Rembrandt van Rijn, ‘The Great Jewish Bride’, 1635, Galerie d'Orsay

Image: 8 11/16 x 6 5/8, Sheet: 9 x 6 15/16. A superb, richly printed 17th century/lifetime impression of Bartsch and New Hollstein’s fifth and final state, Usticke’s third state of three. In excellent condition, with 1/8 inch margins outside the platemark on all four sides.

The title of this etching is a traditional one, based on an eighteenth-century identification of the subject as the daughter of the Jewish physician Ephraim Bonus (see Bartsch 278). In fact, the woman bears a general resemblence to Rembrandt’s wife, Saskia van Uylenburgh, to whom he was betrothed in 1633 and whom he married in the following year. From 1633, her physiognomy provided him with a model of a female type that came to dominate his portrayal of women.

This portrayal shows the woman in rich costume, seated in an armchair before a table or shelf laden with books. She holds a scroll, and her expression is composed, even steadfast. The architectural background enhances the monumentality of the composition.

No definite identification of the subject has been made, though a number of interpretations have been offered: that the woman is a figure from the stage; Minerva; Esther holding the decree on her people (clad in her “royal apparel” before approaching King Ahasuerus in order to expose Haman’s treacherous intentions, the biblical episode preceding the “Trimph of Mordechai” B. 40); a Jewish bride holding the marriage contract, her hair ritualistically let down and wearing a string of pearls around her head as was the custom during the time in Holland among Jewish women about to be married; or a sibyl.

Collections in which impressions of this state of this etching can be found: Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Museum het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam; Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; Kunstmuseum Basel; Kupferstichkabinett der Staatlichen Museen, Berlin-Dahlem; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig; Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, Brussels; Szépmüvészéti Museum, Budapest; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge; The Cleveland Museumof Art, Ohio; Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen; Graphischen Sammlun des Hessischen Landesmuseums, Darmstadt; Kusferstich-Kabinett des Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden; Gabinetto desegni e estampe degli Uffizi, Florence; Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt-on-Main; Hunterian Museum & Art Galleries, Glasgow; Teylers Stichting, Haarlem; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; Ermitage Museum, Leningrad; The British Museum, London; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; The Morgan Library and Mudseum, New York; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Collection Edmond de Rothschild, Musée du Louvre, Paris; Kulturhistorisk Museum – De Bulske Stuer, Randers; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna; National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Signature: Signed and dated in the plate lower left (in reverse) R / 1635.

Bartsch 340 v/v; Hind 127; Biorklund-Barnard 35-C; Usticke 340 iii/iii; New Hollstein 154 v/v.

A superb, richly printed 17th century/lifetime impression of Bartsch and New Hollstein’s fifth and final state, Usticke’s third state of three (characterized by G.W. Nowell-Usticke in his 1967 catalogue Rembrandt’s Etchings: States and Values as “A rather uncommon portrait, desirable”), printed after the addition of horizontal lines upper right indicating stonework.

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