Rembrandt School, circa 1650-1660
Composition Study, possibly Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple
Pen and brown ink, brown ink framing lines, 150 x 121 mm (5.9 x 4.8 inch)
Private collection, The Netherlands
This recently discovered powerful study sheet immediately recalls the drawings of Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669), the most influential artistic personality of the Dutch Golden Age. As is well known, Rembrandt’s studio attracted a host of students, pupils and collaborators, who paid annual tuition fees to the master. Drawing was enormously important to Rembrandt, whose creative thought processes can often be followed by studying his surviving drawings. Rembrandt impressed the importance of drawing upon his students, who strived to emulate the master’s drawing style as closely as possible.
Because of the number of students, the rarity of signed sheets and the dependence on Rembrandt’s own technique, it is sometimes difficult to securely attribute drawings produced in Rembrandt’s orbit – as is also the case here. Stylistically, the drawing can be dated to c.1650-1660. So far the identity of the artist has remained elusive, but the name of the Antwerp-born Karel van Savoy (1619–1665) has been suggested, who studied in Rembrandt’s studio during this period.1 A good example of a drawing by Van Savoy is preserved in the Frits Lugt Collection in Paris, Christ and his Apostles (fig.).2
As is often the case with sketches by Rembrandt and his circle, it is sometimes difficult to correctly identify the iconography. This also applies here, although this vigorous sketch may well be a primo pensiero for a Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple. Interestingly, the as yet unidentified artist commenced with a vertical composition, showing much of a Classical columned building in the background, but then redefined, or ‘cropped’, the pictorial image with a few vigorous lines of the quill, turning it into a more powerful horizontal composition, with greater focus on the main protagonists of the scene.
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1. See W. Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, New York 1981, vol. 10, pp. 5239-5255.
2. Pen and brown ink, brown wash, 84 x 126 mm, inv. no. 5323; P. Schatborn, Rembrandt and his circle. Drawings in the Frits Lugt collection, Bussum/Paris 2010, cat. no. 159, pp. 371-73. The subject is only tentatively identified as Christ and his Apostles.Request more information »