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Lot 2

REMBRANDT VAN RIJN (1606-1669) 'The Descent from the Cross'

second plate, etching and engraving, 1633, 51cm x 40cm

Estimate: £8,000 - £12,000
Bidding ended. Lot is unsold.

The Descent from the Cross, dated 1633, is an etching from a series highlighting classic religious scenes, titled The Passion of Christ, commissioned by the secretary of the Prince of Orange, Constantijin Huygens.  It is believed that Rembrandt produced his version of this iconic scene in response to Peter Paul Rubens’ painting of the same scene from 1612–14.

In contrast to Rubens’ composition, Rembrandt allows this piece to be more responsive. He creates a genuine sense of suffering through the detailed expression on all of the figures’ visages causing viewers to feel a compelling involvement. From Christ’s pained expression to the way in which his body twists rather unsettlingly, this scene shies away from an often-idealised depiction. While the men pull Christ off the cross they bring forward a sense of weight as they cling onto his lifeless form. Rembrandt also uses complex lighting to enforce the importance of the occurring scene; rays of light shine down onto the central figures casting bystanders into the shadows and creating a hierarchy of importance.

Provenance: Mrs Ernest Innes, 4 Audley Square, London, sold Winkworths [auctioneers], 9 April 1918, lot 503, where purchased by Mrs Arthur Colvile, and by descent to the present owner. 

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