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Rembrandt van Rijn original etching "Jacob and Laban"
Rembrandt van Rijn etching Jacob and Laban

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Medium: original etching. Catalogue reference: Bartsch 118 ii/ii. Jacob and Laban is also known as Three Oriental Figures. Executed in 1641, this impression on watermarked laid paper is from the 1868 Hamerton edition. Plate size: 5 3/4 x 4 1/2 inches (144 x 114 mm). Sheet size: 9 7/8 x 6 5/8 inches (250 x 170 mm). Signed and dated in the plate.

Condition: previously framed. There is some discoloration to the paper, creasing in the margin and a small tear in the margin near the right edge of the sheet (not affecting the etching itself). On the back are penciled annotations from a previous owner and the remains of old tape mounts.

This etching was removed from the rare first volume of P. G. Hamerton's "Etching and Etchers", printed in London in 1868 (later volumes were published but only the 1868 volume contained the Rembrandt etching, in addition to original etchings by other European artists. Philip Gilbert Hamerton (1834-1894) was a British artist, scholar and art critic, and he wanted to provide collectors with an original Rembrandt etching.

By the mid-nineteenth century, most of the original Rembrandt copper etching plates still in existence were in poor condition because only a limited number of impressions can be pulled from a copper plate before it becomes worn down from overprinting. Hamerton was a perfectionist, and he searched for an original Rembrandt etching copper plate that could be printed from with quality results. Thus we have the 1868 edition of Jacob and Laban, printed from Rembrandt's original plate.