THREE ORIENTAL FIGURES (also known as “Jacob and Laban”)

Rembrandt Van Rijn
THREE ORIENTAL FIGURES (also known as “Jacob and Laban”)

An original Rembrandt Van Rijn Etching.


Original etching printed in black ink on laid paper bearing the “Seven Provinces” watermark (Ash/Fletcher 34; Hinterding 2006 C.a.b).

Signed and dated in the plate upper right (in reverse) Rembrandt f. 1641.

A superb, richly printed 17th century/lifetime impression of Bartsch, Usticke and New Hollstein’s second and final state, printed after the addition of the foliage to the right of the porch.

Catalog: Bartsch 118 ii/ii; Hind 183; Biorklund-Barnard 41-F; Usticke 118 ii/ii; New Hollstein 190 ii/ii

5 11/16 x 4 7/16 inches

Collections in which impressions of this state of this etching can be found: Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Kupferstichkabinett der Staatlichen Museen, Berlin-Dahlem; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Teylers Stichting, Haarlem; Ermitage Museum, Leningrad; The British Museum, London; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Duthuit Collection, Petit Palais, Paris; Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna.
The subject of this 1641 etching is unclear.  It shows three oriental figures in front of a house, one of whom is an old woman, talking to a man who leans on the bottom half of the door.  In early inventories like that of Clement de Jonghe and Valerius Rover the composition was not clearly recognizable, and later authors do lot explain the image.  Both Gersaint and Bartsch catalogued it among the genre scenes.  It was not until 1859 that Blanc suggested it might be a biblical scene with Jacob and Laban, showing the moment when the unwilling Laban, who refuses to allow Jacob and his family to depart, is being lectured by the latter about his obstinacy (Genesis 30:25-34).  This not convincing, because at the time of this event Jacob and his wife Rachel (or Leah) were considerably younger than Rembrandt’s characters.  Because of this Coppier thought of “Job et ses trois amis” (Job and his three friends), but this hypothesis is equally unconvincing.