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 Age of Rembrandt etching? (Prodigal Son)
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Vietato
Gold Member

Denmark
1817 Posts

Posted - Oct 19 2011 :  08:17:12  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I need some help determining the age of this Rembrandt etching: The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1636 (on the back described as etching no. 38).
Plate size: 153 x 134 mm (6.12 x 5.36 inch), paper size 165 x 145 mm.

The paper looks very old to my eyes; it doesn't resemble my oldest etchings, from the late 19th century, from which time I have seen later imprints of Rembrandts etchings.

Pictures here, the paper photographed from different angles to bring out the texture:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/OWHnfqsAzABPGWe33

I hope for replies from our old art experts in old art!
Vietato

PS: It is beautifully framed in a gold leaf coated frame. I really had to work on the glass to get a heavy nicotine coating off. Anybody know how to clean the frame without hurting the gold?

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Edited by - Vietato on Jan 10 2018 17:03:39

Vietato
Gold Member

Denmark
1817 Posts

Posted - Oct 25 2011 :  05:46:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am now waiting for the Nowell-Usticke book about Rembrandt etchings and their different states.
I have also looked at several auctions with this etching, but the information is difficult to deal with, because the quality of photos are so different.
Some auctions tell about one print that it's "the only state", but in the next sentence that it's "Usticke's fourth state", for example. That's very confusing to me.

I have taken my etching out of the frame and taken new photos (available through the link above).
I can see that it is on laid paper, but I don't know how to judge how old it is.
There are no watermarks. I have put up some photos of the etching taken against the light (they are a bit blurry).

Still hoping some members will share their expertise.

Regards,
Vietato

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hercules brabazon
Senior Member

United Kingdom
901 Posts

Posted - Oct 25 2011 :  08:31:45  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I can't pretend to have any expertise to share, but I did find some useful illustrations on the British Museum database. (Go to http://www.britishmuseum.org/research.aspx and type Rembrandt return prodigal into the "search collection" box)

Here's Rembrandt:
http://www.britishmuseum.org/collectionimages/AN00022/AN00022493_001_l.jpg

There's no mention of any other states from Rembrandt's lifetime - if they exist, the BM doesn't have them.

They do however have this; Rembrandt's plate reworked by Pierre François Basan in 1810
http://www.britishmuseum.org/collectionimages/AN01033/AN01033256_001_l.jpg

The most striking difference between the two is the patch of shading on the paving on the left hand side, present in the Basan reworking, and in yours, but absent in the Rembrandt.

But there may have been intermediate states (and later ones), so that doesn't necesarily prove anything.


Edited by - hercules brabazon on Oct 25 2011 08:32:43
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hercules brabazon
Senior Member

United Kingdom
901 Posts

Posted - Oct 25 2011 :  08:42:42  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A snippet from google book search:

The history of Rembrandt's copperplates: with a catalogue of those...
Erik Hinterding (1995)

"A clear example of this is The return of the Prodigal Son (b. q1). The impression in Basan's Recueil has parallel horizontal lines at the top of the lowest step which are not present in impressions from Rembrandt's time. ..."
'
There's some more about the Basons, and their use of Rembrandt's plates on page 212 of this book on "The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt" (full view available)

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=N0dVqAsR5k0C&dq=rise+of+the+cult+of+rembrandt&source=gbs_navlinks_s


Edited by - hercules brabazon on Oct 25 2011 08:53:03
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Vietato
Gold Member

Denmark
1817 Posts

Posted - Oct 25 2011 :  09:21:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks a lot Hercules,

This is extremely helpful for the process of ruling out certain periods and printers.
You are so good at finding relevant information through Google Books! (I had used it briefly myself)
I will look into your links.

Thanks again,
Vietato

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TLWilliams
Gold Member

United Kingdom
1213 Posts

Posted - Oct 25 2011 :  10:45:28  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'd suggest it was either the Basan or Beaumont impression, probably the latter as the inking isn't as strong, there's a build up of excess ink in the margins, and moreover the paper 'chain lines' are very regular suggesting a more modern paper, additionally the rag content appears low (although hard to tell from photographs). Nowell-Usticke should hopefully clarify this.

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Vietato
Gold Member

Denmark
1817 Posts

Posted - Oct 25 2011 :  11:03:51  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Tim,

Very good information. I would not have thought of the build-up of excess ink as an indication of a later impression.

This fine article
http://www.fineartadvocacy.com/articles/2009/05/survey-of-market-and-values-of-rembrandt-etchings-millennium-impressions.php
mentions this line of plate owners:
Clement De Jonghe (by 1669)
Pieter De Haan (before 1767)
Charles Henri Watelet (1767)
Pierre François Basan (1786)
H. L. Basan (1797)
August Jean (1805)
Veuve Jean (August's widow) (1820)
Michel Bernard (1846)
Alvin Beaumont (1906)
Robert Lee Humber (1938)

So there seems to be a 100 years between Basan and Beaumont. Do you think my print can be as late as 1906?
I have found examples of auctions with all of Usticke's four states, where none of these had the horizontal shadowing on the top of the low step (as mine).
But also one (attached) that has these, and is labeled Usticke's 1st state!

It is not quite clear to me if Basan reworked Rembrandt's plate, or if he did his own "imitation"? (I think he worked the plate, but then the last state can't be without that extra shadowing).

Regards,
Vietato

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ATTACHMENTS:
Feb14, 2001_the only state.jpg
April 28, 2011_no info.jpg
April 27, 2010_Usticke 1st state.jpg

Edited by - Vietato on Oct 25 2011 14:02:56
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Vietato
Gold Member

Denmark
1817 Posts

Posted - Oct 25 2011 :  11:19:02  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
And here's some auctions adding more to the mystery.
Sotheby's description is:
"Etching, a good impression of the only state, before the extra shading in the shadows of the steps, possibly slightly later, with small margins"
- the only state, before … or maybe a little later than before

Bonhams has the "fourth (final) state" without the extra shading.

Swann has a print estimated at 8-12,000 USD with no mention of state, but it looks like there is yet another type of shading on the step (but maybe that's not deliberate, but "dirt")

Regards,
Vietato

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ATTACHMENTS:
Sothebys_Before the extra shading.jpg
Bonhams_4th state_no shading.jpg
Swann_other shading of steps.jpg

Edited by - Vietato on Oct 25 2011 11:44:51
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hercules brabazon
Senior Member

United Kingdom
901 Posts

Posted - Oct 25 2011 :  12:39:11  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A nice big image of a 1929 impression
http://www.originalprints.com/printview.php?dx=3&page=1&id=28493&sid=ca19ec3e663c612d84ac2fd24fc545c8
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Vietato
Gold Member

Denmark
1817 Posts

Posted - Oct 26 2011 :  02:00:11  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks,

I'll get back with my findings from the Nowell-Usticke book. I have ordered the Erik Hinterding book from the library too.

Regards,
Vietato

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Vietato
Gold Member

Denmark
1817 Posts

Posted - Oct 27 2011 :  06:56:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Nowell-Usticke's description of The Return Of The Prodigal Son's different states is only one page, with only one photo.
That is attached below with my underlinings of description that fits my sample, and commentaries on what does not. And also a photo of my etching with the mentioned areas encircled (they are also uploaded to the other photoes, linked in my first post)

It seems that Tim Williams was right about it being a Beaumont impression (4th state), and that would be from 1906-1938.
I believe mine is an early impression, because of additions Beaumont made, that isn't apparent in mine (the arch, top left - as seen in the 1929 impression, and - although not mentioned by Usticke - some light reworking of the sparse area under the arch.
But it does have the clear horizontal lines of shading on the top of the lower step left, that must have worn out in previous states.

So that should settle it. But please respond if you think my deduction has flaws!

Regards,
Vietato


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ATTACHMENTS:
Nowell-Usticke_The Prodigal Son_(notes)_i.jpg
Rembrandt_ The Return Of The Prodigal Son_with notes_d.jpg

Edited by - Vietato on Oct 27 2011 11:43:51
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Vietato
Gold Member

Denmark
1817 Posts

Posted - Oct 27 2011 :  07:04:19  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
TLWilliams mentioned that the inking on my etching isn't as strong, and Usticke says that the Beaumont is a strong impression: I think mine is rather strong; in your hands the lines are pitch black and you can see the ink standing up a little in many of the lines.
I didn't "treat" my first photos in any way, so they were a little flat, seeming less strong. I have added new photos with some of the spots in question, and photos taken from the sides so you might get an impression of the "blackness".

The etching would also seem stronger if the paper wasn't so yellow. Anybody have a recipe for bleaching laid paper? saintluc is usually good for advice on all kinds of repairs!
(not that I'm going to do this right away - I have some old etchings on modern, ordinary paper that I plan to experiment with first)

Regards,
Vietato

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Edited by - Vietato on Oct 27 2011 11:46:09
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Vietato
Gold Member

Denmark
1817 Posts

Posted - Oct 27 2011 :  08:32:23  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Many sales in reputable auction houses do not mention the state at all.

I would like to know what Sotheby's (and others) mean by "only state" in several sales?

Attached below are examples of "only state", possibly followed by a "(x) state out of four".
Plus some clearly wrong state attributions by Swann and Bonhams (and Christie's if "only state" can be called wrong, when it's a 4th).
They seem to focus on a single bit of Usticke's descriptions, overlooking the rest.
The worst is Swann's 1st state attribution that is clearly a 4th and yielded a 4,000 USD sale.

Regards,
Vietato

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ATTACHMENTS:
Sothebys_the only state_3,700 USD.jpg
Sothebys_only state, 1st of four_4,500 USD.jpg
Sothebys_only state, 1st of four_10,000 USD.jpg
Christies_Feb14, 2001_the only state (=4th) 2,000 USD.jpg
Swann_April 27, 2010_Usticke 1st state_Wrong (is 4th) 4,000 USD.jpg
Bonhams_4th state_WRONG_no shading, no wall retouch.jpg

Edited by - Vietato on Oct 27 2011 08:43:58
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TLWilliams
Gold Member

United Kingdom
1213 Posts

Posted - Oct 27 2011 :  14:10:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Vietato,

Apologies for the lack of reply, I'm in the process of moving to Somerset and my Rembrandt books are currently in boxes stacked up :(

Judging by your most recent photograph, the impression isn't as weak as I initially observed. I still think it the Beaumont impression, certainly by 1929 the plate had been altered losing a couple of mm off the top from yours.

Auction houses go by which raisonne they've got a copy of. Usticke catalogues more states than Hind, White + Boon, Bartsch etc. They also make mistakes, often. Some cataloguers don't include post lifetime impressions as states too. Basically, no one is using a clearly defined protocol. Until we get some regulation (also some proper connoisseurs in auctions would help) in the art market there will be no cataloguing standardisation. It's the Wild West out there.

You can wash it - basically there's two methods. With bleach or without bleach. A conservator would do it with no bleach or chemical additives. My dad does it with like 1/100 bleach mix. Basically you need a tub that you can run water through. Once you've done it a few times your confidence grows and you start becoming skilled. Practise on some heavily foxed engravings first. It helps if you have a book press or a vacuum press too, as they don't dry evenly and tend to fight their shape.

When I have time I'll make a step by step guide.

Best wishes, Tim

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eytan
Average Member

Israel
481 Posts

Posted - Oct 27 2011 :  16:39:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A step by step set of bleaching instructions would be very highly appreciated by many. Can you do this also for colored lithographs, or will the colors fade in the process? How about the signature (pencil)?

Thanks & have a smooth move





Eytan

Edited by - eytan on Oct 27 2011 16:40:37
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Carisi
Average Member

France
312 Posts

Posted - Oct 27 2011 :  16:57:51  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey Vietato
Your etching probably is a copy from the end of 18th century. It's not an original from the 17th century. I used to have one The Strolling Musicians etching Signed by Rembrandt
Cheers

quote:
Originally posted by Vietato

I need some help determining the age of this Rembrandt etching: The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1636 (on the back described as etching no. 38).
Plate size: 153 x 134 mm (6.12 x 5.36 inch), paper size 165 x 145 mm.

The paper looks very old to my eyes; it doesn't resemble my oldest etchings, from the late 19th century, from which time I have seen later imprints of Rembrandts etchings.

Pictures here, the paper photographed from different angles to bring out the texture:
https://picasaweb.google.com/vialarus/RembrandtTheReturnOfTheProdigalSon?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCMymp9nmxYKrKA&feat=directlink

I hope for replies from our old art experts in old art!
Vietato

PS: It is beautifully framed in a gold leaf coated frame. I really had to work on the glass to get a heavy nicotine coating off. Anybody know how to clean the frame without hurting the gold?

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Vietato
Gold Member

Denmark
1817 Posts

Posted - Oct 28 2011 :  02:06:50  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
@ Tim: Thanks a lot for your reply; It was less than six hours after my last post, so no need to apologize for the delay : )
You cleared up the matter about "the only state" (I should have thought of that).
And it seems I was right about the wrong attributions I attached.

Looking forward to the "washing instructions". Another person has told me what he does: water and bleach in a dish. I can see the purpose of having the water run through to avoid streaks of dirt as you pull up the paper.
I have a grate that is a large plastic sheet I would use to lever the paper, since I thought the paper might be very fragile when wet.
I would like to know if some bleachers are more gentle to the paper than others (chlorine vs. ?)

@ Carisi: Before my first post I had found an article about the Amand-Durand reproductions (i.e. new plates from his hand), and I could see that mine is not one of them.

http://www.fineartathome.com/2011/05/rembrandt-prodigal-son-academical.html

If you read my attachments in the post of Oct. 27 - 06:56 you can see that my etching has evidence of the reworking of the plate throughout the centuries, most noticeably the retouching of a spot in the wall from the 3rd state. The conclusion is that mine is a Beaumont 4th state from around 1906-10 (or thereabouts).

And I have much confidence in Tim Williams' expertise on this matter!

Regards,
Vietato

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Edited by - Vietato on Oct 28 2011 06:01:37
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TLWilliams
Gold Member

United Kingdom
1213 Posts

Posted - Oct 28 2011 :  06:10:27  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
There were also copies done by David Deuchar, I'm not sure whether he copied this image but the ones I've had of his have been on wove paper, so I'm sure we can count him out. Durand usually stamps the back of his prints with AD in red, though I don't know if he did that to all of them. I'm certain this is from the Rembrandt plate, no matter how good the copiests were they could never match the lines perfectly.

Fortunately laid paper is fairly robust when wet - if you're using a bleach water mix, be sure to wash the print in pure water afterwards - running water is best, like a hose pipe into a tray with somewhere for the water to escape ie the bath. You will be impressed with the results, literally looks like the day its printed. Careful not to touch the areas of ink, the ink becomes wet and will easily smudge. The print will sort of float in the water but the grate is a good tool for removing it evenly.

Off to pack some more stuff! There's a 3m painting in the other room, lord knows how I'm gonna fit that in a box!

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www.pietafineart.com
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TLWilliams
Gold Member

United Kingdom
1213 Posts

Posted - Oct 28 2011 :  06:22:09  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Oh just saw the other post - no don't try with anything that has water fugitive media like coloured prints!

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www.pietafineart.com
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David Qwerty
Junior Member

United Kingdom
169 Posts

Posted - Jan 19 2018 :  16:41:28  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Vietato
Did you buy a copy of Nowell-Usticke? If so is it especially useful? I am considering it but at £300 plus it would be quite an investment. I have numerous copies but a few possible later Rembrandt etchings that I'd like to investigate.
David
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Vietato
Gold Member

Denmark
1817 Posts

Posted - Jan 19 2018 :  18:39:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi David,
No, I borrowed the Nowell-Usticke book from the library.
It is a very useful reference, but I would look into the other reference books as well before deciding on one of them.

Usticke has only one photo for each of the prints. It would be very helpful to have photos of all the states described.

Nowell-Usticke was the only one I borrowed at the time.

Regards,
Vietato

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