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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn



Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Leiden 1606 – Amsterdam 1669




About 1652


Etching, drypoint, engraving, state IV/VII


21.5 x 16.5 cm (sheet), 21 x 16 cm (platemark)


Gift of Freda and Irwin Browns, inv. 2018.145


Graphic Arts

The subject of this print remains a mystery. It has been alternately interpreted as an alchemist in his studio and as Dr. Faust, whose legendary pact with the Devil was immortalized in the literature of Christopher Marlowe and, later, Goethe. Yet Rembrandt’s print does not correspond directly to either subject. Surrounded by books and scientific instruments, an elderly man looks up from his work, transfixed by a luminous apparition before him, whose precise meaning, much like faith, is indecipherable. Whatever the exact subject, here Rembrandt portrays two worlds in communion: the earthly, scientific world on the one hand, and the divine, spiritual world on the other.

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