Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Rembrandt: Chaumière au grand arbre.

Barn with large tree 

("Chaumière au grand arbre") 
(Cat. B.226) 

Some time ago I (a flying crow....) stumbled over this battered, glued and browned impression of an etching in a broken frame. As in before posting it had evoked a "deja vue": I was sure I'd seen this composition before. Besides falling in love instantly (as a romantic it happens to me all the time), the frame told it was fabricated in a well known, posh, shop and it held an old (auctioneers) price tag. But even without those indicators....................... 

It measures roughly 25 x 42 cm. and it is (part of) an interpretation (not a copy !) of Rembrandts "La chaumières au grand arbre" (the barn with the big tree), catalogued as B.226. It's roughly twice the size of the known original. The right side is missing (I think, or maybe it was left out....). But even so it's very decorative and I would dearly like to know who made it, and when.  

In 1640 Rembrandt made this drawing, below, an etching of Amsterdam (catalogued B.210). Small as it is (a tiny 11,3 x 15,5 cm.) it shows the city with church towers, the harbor with ships, and the landscape with mills surrounding the city seen from the north side of the Y. 

In 1641 he drew two separate landscapes with a farm: one to the left and one to the right of his earlier vantage point in an oblong (13 x 32 cm.) format. Put together they form a wide angle view or panorama of Amsterdam. (B.226 and B.225), something like this:

Master engraver Amand Durand (1831-1905) who was commissioned by the Louvre Museum director to restore its collection of worn Rembrandt plates used a revolutionary "reversed method" invention. A fine and original paper print was used to produce an etched image in a fresh copper plate with the help of an electric light: the Heliogravure. It could take up to 6 months to create an image. But then it was accurate within 1/100 of cm. to the lines drawn by the hand of Rembrandt himself. Needles to say these limited Durand (re)prints are highly sought after and recognizable from a red seal on the back. 

The Heliogravure technique, after Durands epic mission, was quickly abandoned: it had been used to prints stamps and it was so good it could also be used to forge paper money. 

After Charles rapid comment (thanks) I found this: William Baillie (1723-1810) known for his many "after" Rembrandt etchings................. 

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.


  1. Wasn't this the kind of work that C19th students were asked to do? As you say, it's obviously skilled and not an exact copy but Rembrandt's etchings were held in such high regard in Britain, for instance, his influence was almost everywhere. But could it even be someone like Alphonse Legros? He copied frescoes by Raphael in Rome. Or even his student William Strang who also drew on Rembrandt freely?

    1. Following your suggestions I found this new to me information: William Bailie (1723-1810), Irish engraver known for his many etchings after Rembrandt (see the article for the link)

  2. Thanks for the suggestions and interesting thoughts Charles. I have really no idea about the maker and will go into it. I have this volume of "Modern Master of Etching". This is for me "collateral catch" in search of woodblock "material". But one cannot live by woodblock prints alone and leave such nice and orphaned works behind. And there's much to learn !