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Sheet of Studies with the Head of the Artist, a Beggar Man, Woman and Child, 1651

Rembrandt van Rijn

Dutch, 1606-1669
Etching; only state
plate: 4-1/2 x 3-3/4 in. (11.4 x 9.5 cm); sheet: 4-3/4 x 4 in. (12.1 x 10.2 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on view

Studies of whole figures and parts of the body are a traditional part of drawing practice. On such model sheets, the artist can sketch several motifs as preparation for depicting a particular scene. Here Rembrandt has used his etching needle much like a pencil, creating schematic impressions of the three forms. A beggar wearing a cap and carrying his begging bowl appears to the left of Rembrandt’s straightforward self-portrait; below his head, and horizontally oriented, a woman stands with her child. The change in orientation of the last two figures indicates that the artist turned the copper plate around as he worked.

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