Christie’s Presents a Rare Collection of 75 Rembrandt Prints

Christie’s Auction House recently unveiled a remarkable collection of 75 Rembrandt prints, offering art enthusiasts a unique opportunity to acquire these masterpieces.

The prints will be presented across two sales on 7 December in Christie’s London.

In this article, we will explore the highlights of this exceptional collection, shedding light on the diverse aspects of Rembrandt’s artistry.

Christie’s Presents a Rare Collection of 75 Rembrandt Prints
Self-Portrait Leaning on a Stone Sill (1639)
Estimate: £80,000-120,000

The Sam Josefowitz Collection: A Glimpse into Rembrandt’s Genius

This exceptional collection is a testament to the unparalleled expertise of Rembrandt as a printmaker. The Old Masters Part I sale will feature five highly significant subjects, each showcasing different facets of Rembrandt’s exceptional skills. Following this, the Evening Sale of The Sam Josefowitz Collection will present Graphic Masterpieces by Rembrandt van Rijn. This comprehensive display of works offers a survey of the various genres, periods, and working methods that defined Rembrandt’s printed oeuvre.

Sam Josefowitz, one of the most influential print collectors of the 20th century, assembled this extraordinary collection. The sale provides a rare opportunity for art enthusiasts to own works with esteemed provenance. Before the auctions, the prints will be on display at Christie’s Rockefeller Center in Amsterdam from 24 to 27 November, and in Beijing from 5 to 6 November. All 75 prints will be exhibited in London from 1 to 6 December.

Sam Josefowitz: The Visionary Collector

Sam Josefowitz’s fascination with Rembrandt engravings began serendipitously on a flight from Paris to Geneva when he met the prints dealer Ira Gale. His initial purchase of a couple of prints marked the beginning of a lifelong passion. With a growing ardour for Rembrandt’s work, Josefowitz tirelessly acquired some of the finest and rarest Rembrandt prints available.

Christie’s Presents a Rare Collection of 75 Rembrandt Prints
The Shell (1650)
Estimate: £80,000-120,000

What captivated him was the virtuosity, imagination, and profound humanity evident in Rembrandt’s etchings. Rembrandt’s unique approach to printmaking, particularly in his later years, resonated with Josefowitz’s scholarly collecting approach.

Over the years, Josefowitz managed to assemble exceptional examples, sometimes multiple impressions of the same subject, tracing the variations. Today, his collection stands as the most significant ensemble of the artist’s graphic oeuvre in private hands.

Monumental Drypoints: The Three Crosses and ‘Ecce Homo’

Two prints, ‘Christ crucified between the two Thieves’ (commonly known as The Three Crosses) and ‘Christ presented to the people’ (‘Ecce Homo’), both executed in drypoint and dating from 1653 and 1655, take centre stage. These prints exemplify Rembrandt’s ambition and experimentation, blending expressive, sketch-like passages with intricate details. The early states on offer are exceptionally rare, representing the works before Rembrandt made substantial alterations to the compositions on the printing plates.

Christie’s Presents a Rare Collection of 75 Rembrandt Prints

In ‘Saint Jerome in an Italian Landscape’ (1653), we find Saint Jerome, aged and at ease in a pastoral landscape beneath a tree. Rembrandt’s portrayal is unique, omitting the traditional saintly attributes and presenting a broad-brimmed sun hat in place of the cardinal’s hat. The scenery is reminiscent of Venetian landscapes from the likes of Titian and Giorgione. The print, on yellowish-brown Japan paper, exudes the warm light of an Italian sunset.

A Glimpse into Rembrandt’s Self-Reflection

Rembrandt’s self-portraits are an extraordinary facet of his oeuvre. In the collection, we find ‘Self-Portrait leaning on a Stone Sill’ (1639), showcasing Rembrandt’s grandest self-portrait in print. Another gem is ‘Self-Portrait with Saskia’ (1636), a double portrait of Rembrandt and his wife Saskia. These self-portraits offer a unique perspective into the artist’s life, each with its distinct character and charm.

‘The Entombment’ (circa 1654) stands out in Rembrandt’s oeuvre for his experimental approach to printmaking. He altered the plate dramatically between the first and second states and experimented with various supports. Rembrandt manipulated each pull, leaving varying degrees of plate tone and modifying illumination to create different highlights. The result is a series of prints that each possesses a distinct character.

Christie’s Presents a Rare Collection of 75 Rembrandt Prints

Rembrandt’s etched still life, ‘The Shell’ (1650), is a testament to his artistic prowess. The shell is depicted as life-size, with a focus on its structure and sheen. The print, with its theatrical lighting and foreshortening, possesses a unique monumentality and an otherworldly, mysterious quality.

The Christie’s auction featuring the Sam Josefowitz Collection of Rembrandt prints is a unique event in the art world. It allows art enthusiasts to acquire exceptional pieces from one of the most comprehensive collections of Rembrandt’s graphic oeuvre. With rare early states and unparalleled provenance, this collection is an opportunity not to be missed.

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