Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669)
reed pen and brown ink and wash, heightened with white gouache (in the heads of the kneeling figures), Sheet: 17.5 x 20.8 cm (6 7/8 x 8 3/16 in.); Secondary Support: 17.5 x 20.8 cm (6 7/8 x 8 3/16 in.). Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1962.116
Scholars now consider this drawing a rare, late work by Rembrandt. Here, Christ meets with Martha and Mary after the death of their brother, Lazarus (John 11:30-36). The composed dignity of Christ's face and his calm compassion contrast with the prostrate figure of Mary and the agitated drawing of the kneeling Martha, whose outstretched hands are repeated three times, suggesting a frenzied expressivity. Above Martha, white gouache obliterates the figure of a standing man as well as a first version of Martha's head. The combination of rough power and sublime tenderness that characterizes Rembrandt's late style of drawing is here demonstrated in the dramatic rendering of the sisters' grief and the sensitive portrayal of the bearded old man who dries his eyes with a kerchief (at the right).
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