Monday, July 29, 2013

Mutants need love too

Rembrandt's etching Ledikant
Rembrandt's Ledikant
Het Ledikant (The Bedstead) also called Le Lit A La Française (the French Bed)  by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1646
etching, height 125mmx width 224 mm

The subject matter is pretty unambiguous to most people. The book Rembrandt and His Work (1899) describes it as "A very rare plate, which need not be described".  The dutch genre was apparently called "boelering" which is dutch for "cohabitation." Rembrandt was 40 years old at the time so I would suggest he qualifies as a dirty old man.

The alternate title, "French bed," is the name curtained beds were known by.  The open bed curtains add to the voyeurism. Hanging off the end of the bedpost is his hat with a large feather in it. On the left is an arched doorway and to the right is a table with a glass and plates on a bedside table.

Both sixes in the date are printed backwards. That is to say they were not etched onto the plate backwards.

There are several different states to the etching. With each revision was it unnoticed that she has 3 hands (one right and 2 left hands)? Assuming, she doesn't have 4 arms and that the second right hand simply isn't shown. Or maybe the intent was to imply a kind of motion.

From a Descriptive Catalogue of the Prints of Rembrandt (1836) :
First impression There is a margin at top and the plate measures 6 in by 8.9 in
At the bottom of the door leading from the recess is written Rembrandt f 1646
Second impression The margin is cut off it is extremely rare and measures 5 in by 8.9 in
There is much of the bur in this impression
Third impression It is very scarce the recess and door with the name are cut off it measures 5 in by 6.9 in

It has been suggested that the final state was trimmed out of shame to take off Rembrandt's name.

The British Museum says there are at least 4 states to the plate. The Rijksmusuem possesses at least 3 different states of the print :

  • RP-P-1961-1093 
  • RP-P-OB-633
    • man's arm burnished 
    • add a bit of smile to the woman's face 
    • (animation showing the differences between RP-P-1961-1093  and RP-P-OB-633)
  • RP-P-1961-1092 
    • darkened the leftmost bedpost
    • crosshatching on the side table
    • add shadow of the plate on table
    • altered the bedding hanging down
    • refined the curtain rod
    • (This is the image shown at the top of the post. Animation showing the differences between  RP-P-OB-633 and RP-P-1961-1092. Or an animation comparing all three).
an attempt to show the size and scale of Rembrandt's Ledikant
an attempt to show the size and scale of the etching

No comments: