Although this dramatic study was long considered to be by Bol, and was included by Professor Sumowski in his corpus
of Bol's drawings (see literature
), several scholars who saw it while it was in the Dreesmann Collection felt that the drawing was actually closer in style to some of Rembrandt's drawings of the 1630s than to any studies by Bol. Not only is the sheer massiveness of the figure and the weighty way in which he leans on the window sill fundamentally Rembrandtesque, but the drawing is also closely comparable with Rembrandt's work on a stylistic and technical level. The broad, sculptural wash, applied in places with a rather dry brush, is found in drawings such as the Saskia Sitting up in Bed,
, and the Oxford Saskia asleep in bed2,
while the bold pen-work and strong facial type are also reminiscent of a number of studies of Orientals, which Rembrandt drew in around 1638-9. Furthermore, that was precisely the moment when the artist briefly experimented with the use of iron-gall ink on finely-laid paper, the essential technique seen in the present drawing. Another drawing, in which Rembrandt united all these stylistic and technical elements in a manner closely comparable to what we see here, is the superb Portrait of the Actor Willem Bartolsz. Ruyter
, drawn by Rembrandt in around 1638, and acquired by the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, in 1996.3
To judge by the ink mark in the lower right corner, which seems to represent some sort of cap, this study must originally have been part of a larger sheet, but it has not been possible to trace any other drawing by Rembrandt to which this sheet can be matched up.
1. Dresden, Kupferstichkabinett; Benesch 255
2. Ashmolean Museum, Benesch 281a.
3. See ‘Recent acquisitions at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam’, The Burlington Magazine, CXXXVIII no. 1124, November 1996, p. 777, reproduced p. 778, fig. III, and on the front cover.