In 1930 the Groninger Museum received a number of drawings from collector and Rembrandt expert Cornelis Hofstede de Groot. The Rembrandt year 2019 gives reason to take a closer look at a few of those drawings: is it really created by Rembrandt or was it made by one of his students?
Actor in the character of Pantalone
Experts agree: this is a real Rembrandt. Out of several quick but effective pen strokes arises Pantalone, a character from the Italian theatrical tradition Commedia dell’Arte. The artist has miraculously created a sense of depth without any further suggestions of space. If you take a closer look, you will notice that the lines that make up the face are much finer than those that make up the body. This is “typically” Rembrandt. He used a goose feather for the finer lines and a reed pen for the thicker ones. This drawing was most likely created in the late 1630s. Rembrandt drew several other actors that are very similar in style during this time.
Farm with large group of trees
Rembrandt drew several landscapes during his meanderings around Amsterdam. This farm that lies hidden behind the trees is believed to be one of them. The thicket is masterfully depicted: it almost looks like there is a firm breeze blowing through. A key factor in the attributing of this drawing is the collector’s stamp in the left bottom corner, which was placed there by Jan Pieterszoon Zomer (1641-1724), a collector from Amsterdam. A contemporary inventory showed that Zomer was in possession of an album with about 60 of Rembrandt’s ’drawn to life’ landscapes. It is very likely that this landscape used to be part of this collection.
Elisha fed by the ravens
This is a depiction of the biblical tale of Elijah who is fed by ravens in the desert (1 Kings 17: 1-16). The man half-leans against the hill and lifts his arms towards the birds. Because of some weaker spots, this drawing is generally not attributed to Rembrandt. You can’t really tell what Elijah is sitting on, for example. His left arm also appears to be shorter than his right. If you follow the contours of the landscape, you will notice that these are composed out of very small pen stokes, instead of long, powerful ones. This reveals an uncertain hand that was probably copying a drawing made by the master – or even by another student.
Boatyard on the island near the Overtoom
In the 1640s, Rembrandt often set out to draw the fields surrounding Amsterdam. This way he could practice depicting the landscape while collecting motifs to use at a later time. This drawing shows “the Island”, where Overtoom and the Kostverlorenvaart meet. The composition is balanced. The depiction has depth due to the way a transparent wash is added to the drawing with a fine brush. This creates the impression of a reflection in the water. Because of all these clever ‘tricks’ seen in this drawing, art historians don’t question its authenticity.