Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (Dutch, Leiden 1606 - 1669 Amsterdam)
Landscape with Three Gabled Cottages beside a Road, ca. 1650
Signed and dated in the plate, lower left: Rembrandt f 1650
Plate: 6 5/16 x 8 in. (16.1 x 20.3 cm)
Sheet: 6 11/16 x 8 7/16 in. (17.0 x 21.4 cm)
Etching and drypoint
B., Holl. 217; Hind 246 iii/iii
Gift of the Max Kade Foundation, N.Y., 1967
Many of Rembrandt's landscape etchings depict simple farmhouses and cottages engulfed by trees, within a typically flat, rural setting. The elusive effects of weather and atmosphere are enhanced through the use of varied printmaking techniques; here, drypoint accents create rich, dark shadows.
Rembrandt produced landscape etchings from about 1640 to 1652. Although he also created imaginary landscapes, town views, river scenes, and panoramas, the farmhouses and cottages indigenous to the Dutch countryside are the most common subject in his landscape prints. The farm buildings depicted in this print are the traditional Dutch langhuis (literally, long house): thatch-roofed, wooden structures that combine living areas with stable and barn.1
Landscape with Three Gabled Cottages beside a Road represents Rembrandt's most mature treatment of a theme he explored in numerous landscape drawings and prints during this period: a view down a road lined with cottages. Here, the powerful diagonals of the road and the upper contours of the houses and trees converge in a dramatic sweep towards the distant horizon; the spatial recession is emphasized by the imposing height of the tree in the foreground. In composing his etching, Rembrandt was not attempting a precise topographical record, but a tightly organized pictorial construction. A pen drawing by the artist from about 1648-50 (Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett; Benesch no. 835) may represent the same site as the etching, but is not necessarily a preparatory study for it.2 Aside from certain compositional differences, the drawing places a greater emphasis on the atmospheric effects of wind, and individual forms are more summarily drawn
In his landscape prints, Rembrandt "mastered an increasingly complex combination of techniques as he sought the most effective means to evoke spatial recession and atmospheric effects of the outdoors."3 Landscape with Three Cottages is the first landscape etching in which Rembrandt made extensive use of drypoint; here, the technique is used most strikingly to create the blurred, dark accents in the tree at the right. He apparently first lightly etched the tree, then substantially and dramatically altered its appearance with the bold addition of these drypoint lines. Traces of an earlier stage in the evolution of the image are faintly visible in the sky just below the dead branch of the tree, where there are some imperfectly burnished-out remnants of delicately etched foliage. Landscape with Three Cottages is known in three states; minor changes in the second and third states add shading to the foreground, to the roofs of the cottages, and the side wall of the first cottage to create greater visual unity with the dense black areas of drypoint.
M. E. Wieseman
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn was born in Leiden in 1606. After training briefly with Jacob van Swanenburg (ca. 1571-1638) and with Pieter Lastman (1583-1633) in Amsterdam, he was working as an independent master in Leiden by 1625. The artist settled permanently in Amsterdam in 1631/2. He quickly established himself as the leading portraitist in the city, infusing the genre with an unprecedented vivacity. By the 1640s Rembrandt focused more on religious subjects and landscapes; his style became less flamboyant and more introspective. His late works are remarkable for their depth and range of emotion, which is matched by a complete expressive mastery of technique. Rembrandt was not only a sublime painter, but also a prodigious draftsman and uniquely gifted etcher. In all media, he experimented continually with new techniques and visual effects, and with new approaches to traditional subject matter. Rembrandt also had a profound impact as a teacher, training dozens of artists in his atelier, including Ferdinand Bol (1616-1680), Gerrit Dou (1613-1675), Arent de Gelder (1645-1727), Nicolaas Maes (1634-1693), and Philips Koninck.
Benesch, Otto. The Drawings of Rembrandt: First Complete Edition in Six Volumes. London 1954-57. Enlarged and edited by Eva Benesch, London, 1973.
Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings, revised by H. Gerson. London, 1969.
Collection John Webster (1810-1891), Aberdeen (Lugt 1554, 1555)
His sale, London (Sotheby's), 9 May 1889, lot 50
Collection Albert W. Scholle, N.Y. (Lugt 2932a)
Collection Joseph H. Seaman
Collection Max Kade (1882-19??), N.Y. (Lugt 1561a)
Gift of the Max Kade Foundation, 1967
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Graphische Sammlung, 1963-64. Sammlung Max Kade. (Also shown at Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung.) Cat. no. 102.Northampton, Mass., Smith College Museum of Art, 1969. Rembrandt Prints. 7 April - 4 May. No cat.
Sammlung Max Kade. Exh. cat., Graphische Sammlung Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, and Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, 1963-64, pp. 74, 85 ill.
Stechow, Wolfgang. "Seventeen Great Prints: A Gift of the Max Kade Foundation." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 25, no. 1 (Fall 1967), p. 10.
Bartsch, Adam. Catalogue raisonné de toutes les estampes qui forment l'oeuvre de Rembrandt... Vienna, 1797. B. 217.
Hind, Arthur M. A Catalogue of Rembrandt's Etchings. 2d ed., vol 1. London, 1923.
H. 246.Münz, Ludwig. Rembrandt's Etchings. London, 1952. Mz. 163.
Björklund, George, with the assistance of Osbert H. Barnard. Rembrandt's Etchings True and False. Stockholm/London/New York, 1955. B.-B. 50-D.
White, Christopher, and Karel G. Boon. Rembrandt van Rijn (Hollstein's Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts, vol. 18). Amsterdam, 1969. Holl. 217.
General Literature (mentioning this print but not this impression)
Schneider, Cynthia P., et al. Rembrandt's Landscapes: Drawings and Prints. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1990, pp. 38, 112-13.
Welzel, Barbara. In Rembrandt: The Master and his Workshop, Drawings and Etchings. Exh. cat., The National Gallery, London, 1991-92, pp. 256-57.
The Oberlin impression of Landscape with Three Cottages is of the third state of the print, with additional shading on the side wall of the first cottage. The sheet is richly inked, with no discernible wear in the burr of the drypoint lines. It is printed on European paper with a watermark of a Strasburg Lily in a Shield Surmounted by a Crown, with the letters "P R" below (cf. Heawood nos. 1663-67).4 Another impression of the third state, in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam, is printed on paper with a closely related watermark.5
1.See Boudewijn Bakker, "Langhuis and Stolp: Rembrandt's Farm Drawings and Prints," in Cynthia P. Schneider et al., Rembrandt's Landscapes: Drawings and Prints (exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., 1990), pp. 37-40.
2. E. Haverkamp Begemann, "Rezension: Otto Benesch, The Drawings of Rembrandt," Kunstkronik 14 (1961), p. 57; see also Cynthia P. Schneider, in Rembrandt's Landscapes: Drawings and Prints (exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.,1990), p. 113.
3. Cynthia P. Schneider, in Rembrandt's Landscapes: Drawings and Prints (exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1990), p. 24.
4. Edward Heawood. Watermarks, Mainly of the 17th and 18th Centuries (London, 1950).
5. See Nancy Ash and Shelly Fletcher, "Watermarks in Rembrandt's Landscape Etchings," in Rembrandt's Landscapes: Drawings and Prints (exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1990), pp. 269, 279 ill. Rembrandt used the same or similar paper in prints dating from 1637 to 1652.