Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (Dutch, Leiden 1606 - 1669 Amsterdam)
The Hundred Guilder Print (Christ Preaching), ca. 1649
Etching, drypoint and burin, on Japanese paper
11 1/16 x 5 5/16 in. (28.1 x 38.9 cm, trimmed just inside plate line)
B., Holl. 74; Hind 246 ii/ii
Mrs. F. F. Prentiss Bequest, 1944
Rembrandt's famed Hundred Guilder Print incorporates a series of episodes, described in chapter 19 of the Gospel of Saint Matthew, which convey the essence of Christ's ministry. Rembrandt worked on the plate over a period of several years; the finished print demonstrates his unparalleled mastery of diverse printmaking techniques.
Rembrandt's monumental image of Christ preaching has been referred to by its popular title, The Hundred Guilder Print, since the early eighteenth century. Although the origin of this title is obscure, various apocryphal explanations allude to the print's rarity and aesthetic quality.1 A contemporary poem written on the back of an impression of The Hundred Guilder Print in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, confirms that Rembrandt's ambitious composition combines several episodes from chapter 19 of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which describes Christ's activities after his arrival in Judaea. In Rembrandt's print these successive events coexist and interpenetrate to convey the essence of Christ's ministry; the Savior's calm, impressive figure dominates and unifies the scene.
The right portion of the scene, with a crowd of sick and crippled followers flocking to Christ in hopes of a miraculous cure, illustrates Matthew 19:2: "great multitudes followed Him; and He healed them there."2 The cluster of Pharisees seated in the background at the left is an allusion to Matthew 19:3-12, in which the Pharisees attempt to provoke Christ in a debate over divorce. Several women and children approach from the left; a balding and bearded Peter pushes them aside but is rebuked with a gesture from Christ: "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:13-15). Immediately to the left of Peter, the pensive, richly dressed man is a reference to the wealthy young man who was challenged to give up his riches and follow Christ (Matthew 19:16-24). Christ's pronouncement, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God," is whimsically represented by the camel silhouetted in the doorway at the right. The unmistakable focal point of the scene is Christ himself, positioned slightly left of center, his divine presence emphasized by a shaft of radiant light.
Although the Hundred Guilder Print is not dated, Rembrandt probably worked on the plate over a period of several years, completing it in about 1649.3 The print is a technical tour de force, incorporating an enormous diversity of printmaking styles and techniques. The group of figures at the left side of the print, for example, is deftly indicated with a minimum of lightly bitten lines; in contrast, the evocative richness of the blacks and the depth of tone in the right half of the print represents Rembrandt's experimental competition with the newly discovered mezzotint technique.4
Aside from demonstrating his entire vocabulary of printmaking techniques, Rembrandt also varied the appearance of each individual impression by using different papers and by manipulating the inking of the copper plate. A number of impressions of The Hundred Guilder Print--including the example in Oberlin--are printed on thick Japanese paper.5 Rembrandt was among the first Western printmakers to use Japanese paper.6 The warm tan or buff tones of the paper soften the black/white tonalities of the etching, creating an atmospheric, painterly effect. The smooth, silken surface of the paper also contributes to the appearance of the print: the printing ink is not absorbed into the fibers of the paper but remains on the surface, so that every line of the etching is clear and distinct. Finally, the soft surface of Japanese paper receives ink under minimal pressure, and so does not wear down delicate lines on the etching plate as quickly as other papers. The Oberlin impression is particularly fine and crisply printed, before the plate became worn through overprinting.
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 <H Koninck > (1619 - 1688, q.v., inv. 43.248).
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.
Bruyn, Josua, Bob Haak, Simon H. Levie, P. J. J. van Thiel, and Ernst van de Wetering. A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings. Vols. 1-. The Hague, Boston, and London, 1982
Schwartz, Gary. Rembrandt, his Life, his Paintings. Harmondsworth, 1985.
Rembrandt: The Master and his Workshop. 2 vols. Exh. cat., Staatliches Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz at the Altes Museum, Berlin; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; and The National Gallery, London, 1991-92.
General References on Rembrandt as Printmaker
White, Christopher, and Karel G. Boon. Rembrandt van Rijn (Hollstein's Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts, vol. 18). Amsterdam, 1969.
White, Christopher. Rembrandt as an Etcher. 2 vols. London, 1969.See also the several catalogues raisonnés listed under Literature.
Possibly collection Alfred Morrison (1821-1897; cf. Lugt 144)Collection, Caldwell, Pittsburgh (purchased from a private collection in London, ca. 1890)With Frederick Keppel & Co., New York, from whom purchased by Mrs. Dudley P. Allen (later Mrs. F. F. Prentiss, 16 September 1914 ($9000)Bequeathed by her to the museum, 1944
Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1960. Rembrandt Prints. 23 October -20 November. Cat. no. 36.
The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1970. Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years. 25 February - 5 April. No number (ex-catalogue).
Bartsch, Adam. Catalogue raisonné de toutes les estampes qui forment l'oeuvre de Rembrandt.... Vienna, 1797. B. 74.
Hind, Arthur M. A Catalogue of Rembrandt's Etchings. 2d ed., vol. 1. London, 1923. H. 236.
Münz, Ludwig. Rembrandt's Etchings. London, 1952. Mz. 217.Björklund, George, with the assistance of Osbert H. Barnard. Rembrandt's Etchings True and False. Stockholm/London/New York, 1955. B.-B. 49.1.
White, Christopher, and Karel G. Boon. Rembrandt van Rijn (Hollstein's Dutch and Flemish Etching, Engravings and Woodcuts, vol. 18). Amsterdam, 1969, pp. 39-40. Holl. 74.
The Oberlin impression of The Hundred Guilder Print is printed on thick Japanese paper, possibly made by laminating two sheets together. The smooth surface of the paper enhances the fine detail of this rich early impression. The sheet is in excellent condition, with some slight abrasions and glue residues on the verso, especially at the perimeter.On the verso is the collector's mark "A. M." in pink ink, possibly that of Alfred Morrison (Lugt 144). Another inscription, at the lower left edge, verso, is partially visible under ultraviolet light: ---any Le Rou-e.
1. See Christopher White, Rembrandt as an Etcher, vol. 1 (London, 1969), pp. 55-56.
2. The most concise overview of the subject matter, iconography, and creative genesis of The Hundred Guilder Print is Christopher White, Rembrandt as an Etcher, vol. 1 (London, 1969), pp. 55-65. On the several preparatory drawings associated with the print, see Otto Benesch, The Drawings of Rembrandt: First Complete Edition in Six Volumes (London, 1954-57; enlarged ed., ed. Eva Benesch, London, 1973), nos. 183-85, 188, 388, 543, and 1071.
3.Although most scholars concur that the print was completed about 1649, there is some disagreement as to when Rembrandt actually began work on the print; for a recent overview see Barbara Welzel, in Rembrandt: the Master and his Workshop, Drawings and Etchings (exh. cat., The National Gallery, London, 1991-92), pp. 242-44.
4. See Barbara Welzel, in Rembrandt: the Master and his Workshop, Drawings and Etchings (exh. cat., The National Gallery, London, 1991-92), p. 242.
5. See Christopher White and Karel G. Boon, Rembrandt van Rijn (Hollstein's Dutch and Flemish Etching, Engravings and Woodcuts, vol. 18) (Amsterdam, 1969), p. 40.
6.On Rembrandt's use of Japanese paper, see Andrew Robison, in Paper in Prints (exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., 1977), pp. 13-14; Clifford S. Ackley, in Printmaking in the Age of Rembrandt(exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1980-81), p. 151; and Sue Reed, in Rembrandt: Experimental Etcher (exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1969-70), p. 180.