The Original Copper Etching Plates of Rembrandt’s


During the artist’s life time 1606-1669 and after his death the original copper plates for the Masters etchings  were sold and resold , to various dealers , some were lost or destroyed .
Many good later impressions of  Several were printed with good results by the Bason’s , Hammerton , Watelet , Lewis and others as late as the Early 19 century. Every Artist and plate has it own history of the publications from the plates and Blocks . Several of Rembrandt’s plates were lost or destroyed in Rembrandt’s life time , others were not printed from in any sizable quality .each work has a separate set of guidelines that you need to follow ,  Keep in mind Old Masters etching plates , has a vast history depending on each copper plate in Rembrandt and other Old Masters Works .
The first period of the plates in 1679 when Rembrandt’s house and most of his possessions were sold at auction to pay his creditor ,Rembrandt pawned his copper plates or gave them to friends to avoid the sale of his treasures by the bankruptcy court. It is documented that the majority of Rembrandt’s copper plates, including the eight plates forming the Millennium Impressions, were owned by Clement de Jonghe after Rembrandt’s death in 1669. Clement de Jonghe, who was a print dealer and friend of Rembrandt’s, recorded the first inventory of Rembrandt’s copper plates in 1679. It is even possible that Clement de Jonghe acquired the 74 plates referenced in his estate inventory while Rembrandt was alive.
Some Time between 1679 through 1767 , Rembrandt’s copper etching plates were obtained by Pieter de Haan of Amsterdam.   In a   rare catalog of the Pieter de Haan sale, which list 76 of Rembrandt’s copper etching plates  76 copper plates at the Rijksprentenkabinet in Amsterdam. These impressions are found among some of the best printed and very close to the quality of some of the ” Life Time Impressions “  These are  NOT any longer printed from ….
From the sale The records  of the estate of Pieter de Haan in 1767 indicate that about 53 of the copper etching plates were sold to Pierre Fouquet, who probably purchased them on a commission basis because they were subsequently sold to Claude Henri Watelet (1718-1786) in 1767, a French engraver, writer, art critic and art collector from Paris who greatly admired Rembrandt.
Again these copper plates l plates  remained in the collection of Claude Henri Watelet. In 1786, the over 78 of Rembrandt’s copper etching plates owned by Watelet were sold at  the sale of Watelet’s estate. In 1786, after Watelet’s death, These works are generally very good strong impressions , Keeping in mind when some prints were not printed as often as others .
  F Y I  , Up to this time regular editions were NOT published BUT impressions were printed on demand , by some one asking the Publisher to for a paticular impression .
Pierre Francois Basan (1723-1797) purchased the entirety of Watelet’s collection en bloc. It is likely that Watelet actually owned 83 of Rembrandt’s copper plates because Basan published a recueil of Rembrandt etchings from 83 Rembrandt copper plates between 1789 and 1797.
At the time of Basan’s death in 1797, Rembrandt’s copper etching plates were inherited by his son, Henri Louis Basan, who published a limited second recueil. Henri Louis Basan subsequently sold the copper etching plates en bloc to August Jean between approximately 1805 and 1810. The size of these editions were small since few have been seen on the market .
Impressions printed by Basan and his son in the late Eighteenth Century and early Nineteenth Century are commonly referred to as “Basan impressions.” These are more often found on the market today and still are acceptable quality impressions and priced fairly .
Some time in 1816 six of Copper plates  were in fact  printed from by Mc Creery  ( Collection of  200 Original Etchings  ) published around 1816-26 ,   Hammerton Published one in ” Etching and Etchers ” (  Three Oriental Figures) with good results . Philip J.  Hammerton saw that this and others Old Masters Plates were printed will good quality impression , unusual for the time of the printing .
A few were also published by lesser remembered Publishers like August & Michael Bernard between 1846 and 1906 when the were sold to Humber . and several plates were either lost or destroyed.
” Keep in mind many copper plates were melted down and reused. Copper were a expensive metal and often re used “
Between 1805 and 1810, August Jean purchased Rembrandt’s copper etching plates from Henri Louis Basan, and issued a small edition of some of Rembrandt’s etchings. At the time of August Jean’s death, his widow, Veuve Jean, inherited Rembrandt’s copper plates, and sold them to Auguste Bernard in Paris in around 1846.
Generally these are much less quality as the plates were wearing out and the etched lines are faint and most dry point ( not re engraved ) are gone .
Among the last  and not final owner ship 1846 until 1906, Rembrandt’s copper etching plates remained in the collection of Auguste Bernard and his son, Michael Bernard. In 1906, Michael Bernard sold Rembrandt’s copper plates en bloc to Alvin Beaumont, who then published a series of Rembrandt etchings. These impressions are commonly referred to as “Beaumont impressions.” Some people refer to Beaumont’s publication of Rembrandt’s etchings as the “modern recueil.”
 At this point most of the Impressions are poor quality and more often found on the Market and even these quality impressions are starting to bring more money since the supply of any Genuine Rembrandt’s Etchings are very scarce ..Later impressions are for the most part poor quality , with a very exception of the stronger etched plates .
From approximate 1906 through  1916, Beaumont applied a layer of ink and varnish to protect Rembrandt’s 78 copper etching plates and placed them in green leather mounts with their titles in French in gold letters and set them in 10 large black frames.
Alvin Beaumont owned Rembrandt’s copper etching plates until 1938, when he sold all 78 of them to his friend Robert Lee Humber, an American then living in Paris. Before Rembrandt’s copper plates were placed in their individual leather mounts,
Andre-Charles Coppier examined each plate and published his study under the title Les Reliques de Rembrandt. In addition, in the 1920’s Rembrandt’s copper plates were on loan to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam for seven years during which time Beaumont attempted to negotiate the sale of the plates to the Rijksmuseum. Beaumont also offered Rembrandt’s copper plates to the British Museum of Art, but he was unable to reach an agreement with either of these museums.
Robert Lee Humber returned to the United States to live in his native North Carolina, and the copper etching plates remained in his collection until approximately the early 1960′s. At that time, all 78 of the plates were loaned to the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina. Rembrandt’s copper etching plates were stored at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh for over thirty years, from the early 1960′s until 1993.
At the time of Humber’s death in 1970, Humber’s heirs inherited Rembrandt’s copper etching plates. In 1993, Artemis International in London and R.M. Light, a noted Rembrandt expert and art dealer, were engaged to sell Rembrandt’s 78 copper plates in the Humber collection.
In 1993, Rembrandt’s copper etching plates were sold on the world wide auction , Several museums throughout the world and a select number of art dealers
Sadly greedy gallleries issued very poor quality impressions  under the . These eight Rembrandt’s eight copper etching plates from which the” Millennium Impressions” were printed and are flooding the market , since the acknowledge edition size are 2000 impressions( questionable ) and of poor quality , when examined against what the artist had in mind .
I suggest that the collector and student study each work of Rembrandt with a good catalog resume of his works , Among the best works are Catalog Resumes by Bartsch ,Hollstein , Biorklund , and my favorite ” Etchings True and False by O. H. Barnard & Biorklund . The Volumes of Hollstein and  O. H. Barnard & Biorklund are great works , there you will see the history of each Plate … Various states and which works were retouched ( re re engraved by engraver-publishers  publication .
 Visit our vast selections of Rembrandt etched Works by and after the Dutch Master  on paper at ;

James Stow & Anthony Yau
Candlewood Yankee Fine Arts






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