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An original etching and burin printed in black ink on laid paper bearing a “Bunch of Grapes” watermark (Ash/Fletcher 21). Signed in the plate at the center "RHL van Rijn f."
This is a strong, dark and richly printed 18th century impression of Bartsch's tenth and final state, Usticke's eighth state of ten, Printed after the addition of the crosshatching to the outstretched palm of the standing frightened man at the right, in which the back of the man at the lower left is printed very dark, characteristic of early impressions of this state. Bearing an unidentified collector's stamp in black ink verso.
Distinguished by its ambitious size, high finish and baroque drama, the Raising of Lazarus marks a major breakthrough in Rembrandt's early etchings. It is his most important religious etching from the early 1630's, and its large dimensions and etched frame declare his intention to imbue his prints with the presence and impact of his history paintings.
The story of Lazarus, the brother of Mary Magdalene and Martha, occurs in John 11:1-44. Christ was called to heal the sick Lazarus but by the time he arrived Lazarus had been dead for four days. Accompanied by a crowd of disciples and other people, Christ asked for the stone of the burial cave to be shifted and, after beseeching his Father, “he cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound in hand and foot with gravecloths and his face was bound about with a napkin” (John 11:43-44). The event as Rembrandt portrays it carries all the emotional drama of that moment: Christ's commanding presence and gesture, the startled multitude, Mary Magdalene behind the tomb, clutching the napkin with arms outstretched in astonishment, and her sister Martha bent forward amazed in the lower right corner. Miraculous light illuminates the scene and also reveals armor and exotic headgear hanging on the walls of the cave - the dead man's belongings. Rembrandt's treatment of light here is informed by the dramatic modeling in light and shade that characterized the manner of the Utrecht Caravaggisti.
The genesis of the composition is complex due to the great number of state changes - greater than for any other of Rembrandt's prints - and also because of its relationship to his own painted and drawn versions of the subject, as well as to versions painted and etched by his closest colleague at the time, Jan Lievens. Both artists worked on the subject concurrently, apparently in a spirit of friendly rivalry, but the exact sequence in which the works were produced has never been conclusively established. Rembrandt's painting underwent many changes during its creation, presumably throughout 1630-31, and the etching, which is similar in structure to an early “state” of the painting (which has been revealed through X-ray photography), may thus have been started earlier than is usually assumed. However, the form of the signature that appears in the etching was used only in 1632, and the arched format - unique in Rembrandt's prints - is shared by the arched compositions used for the series of paintings of the Passion of Christ commissioned by Prince Frederik Hendrik - the Stadholder of the Dutch Court at the Hague - which Rembrandt worked on for several years from around 1631. For details of the design of the etching Rembrandt drew on earlier representations of apostles preaching, and perhaps also on other portrayals of the subject, however, the placement of the figure of Christ and its scale in relation to the composition overall is entirely An original and arresting in its impact.
Catalogue reference: Bartsch 73 x/x; Hind 96; Biorklund-Barnard 32-4; Usticke 73 viii/x. Literature regarding this artwork: J.P. Filedt Kok, Rembrandt Etchings Drawings in the Rembrandt House, Gary Schwartz, Maarssen, 1972, no. B73, p. 66 (ill.); Hilliard T. Goldfarb, A Humanist Vision: The Adolph Weil, Jr. Collection of Rembrandt Prints, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1988, p. 130, fig. 17 (ill.); Holm Bevers, Peter Schatborn, Barbara Welzel, Rembrandt: The Master his Workshop, Yale University Press, London New Haven, 1990, no. 7, p. 187 (ill.); Albert Blankert, Rembrandt: A Genius and his Impact, Waanders Publishers, Zwolle, 1997, no. 100, p. 393 (ill.); Christopher White, Rembrandt as an Etcher, Yale University Press, New Haven London, 1999, pp. 27-31 (ill.); Eva Ornstein-Van Slooten, Marijke Holtrop, Peter Schatborn, The Rembrandt House: A Catalogue of Rembrandt Etchings, Waanders Publishers, Zwolle, 1999, no. B73, p. 53 (ill.); Erik Hinterding, Ger Luijten, Martin Royalton-Kisch, Rembrandt the Printmaker, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, Chicago London, no. 17, p. 119 (ill.); Friso Lammertse/Jaap van der Veen, Uylenburgh Son: Art and Commerce from Rembrandt to De Lairesse 1625-1675, The Rembrandthouse Museum, Amsterdam/Waanders Publishers, Zwolle, 2006, p. 152, no. 96 (ill.).
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