Rembrandt van Rijn, ‘THREE ORIENTAL FIGURES (also known as “Jacob and Laban”)’, 1641, Galerie d'Orsay

In excellent condition, printed on a sheet with thread margins all around. 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.

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

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.

Ex-collection Jan Baptist de Graff (Dutch, 1742-1804), the Amsterdam attorney who assembled a spectacular collection of prints from all schools including 187 etchings by Rembrandt, a number of which now reside in the collections of the Rijksmuseum, the British Museum and the Fondation Custodia (Frits Lugt Collection), bearing his blindstamp [Lugt 1120] lower center recto.

About Rembrandt van Rijn

A prolific painter, draftsman, and etcher, Rembrandt van Rijn is considered the greatest artist of Holland's Golden Age. He worked from direct observation, and despite the evolution of his style over the course of his career, Rembrandt’s compelling descriptions of light, space, atmosphere, modeling, texture, and human affect are the result of intense perceptual study. A prominent portraitist, Rembrandt is most famous for The Night Watch (1642), a monumental painting of militia guards that features Rembrandt’s distinctive use of chiaroscuro.

Dutch, 1606-1669, Leiden, Netherlands, based in Amsterdam and Leiden, Holland