The Dutuit Collection

Rose Kingsley and Camille Gronkowski

Burlington Magazine, 5, 1904 pp. 69-72
Related person: Rembrandt
Connoisseurs and collectors of Rembrandt's etchings on both sides of the Channel have long known, by reputation at least, ' the extensive and choice collection' of the brothers Dutuit. In England its value was made manifest at the exhibition of Rembrandt's etchings in 1877, at the Burlington Fine Arts Club. To this exhibition Eugene Dutuit contributed his magnificent first-state impression of The Hundred Guilder Plate, the rare Beheading of St. John Baptist, the Large Tree and a House, Rembrandt on a high and narrow plate, and Four Prints for a Spanish Book.

To the French public, as we pointed out in our former article,[1] many opportunities were afforded, from the year 1869 onwards, of becoming better acquainted with certain examples of those treasures of engraving which Eugene Dutuit was amassing with such unerring taste and knowledge in the old hôtel at Rouen. For in his earnest desire to disseminate among the masses an intelligent love and knowledge of the chef d'oeuvres of engraving, he did violence to his natural tastes, those of the modest and refined collector, and eagerly made advances to the promoters of any exhibition in which the object he had at heart might be furthered. But it was not until December 1902 that it became possible to judge as a whole of the collection-to which Auguste Dutuit had made several additions after his brother's death-when it was exhibited on the walls of the Petit Palais.

Any attempt at a complete catalogue of the Rembrant etchings in the Dutuit collection is obviously impossible within the limits of one article, and would moreover be of little interest to the general reader. We therefore propose to mention only some of the most remarkable of the 396 etchings which call for special notice. When we consider all the pitfalls in the path of any collector of the great master's work-the want of dates, the variations, the different states, the plates retouched by pupils and later engravers, the copies and 'fakes'-we recognize how happy is that iconographer who can lay hands on an absolutely authentic impression of perfect quality. In his arduous endeavour to obtain the very best, Eugene Dutuit was at once singularly sagacious and extremely fortunate. We find very little rubbish among his Rembrandts, very few impressions of doubtful authenticity. So careful, indeed, was he to try for the finest only, that many etchings, especially among the landscapes, which are usually included in great col- lections, are wanting in this one because doubt has been cast upon them. Among these are:--(19)[2] Landscape with a Fisher- man in a Boat, an extremely rare print; (8) Landscape with a Canal, also very rare; (9) Landscape with Ruined Tower, of which the only known impression is in the British Museum; (10) Landscape with ruins on the Seashore, and others.

Dutuit's favourite classification was that of Gersaint, adopted by Bartsch, Claussin, and Wilson, which he considered 'the best and most simple of all,' while he acknowledged the excellence of Mr. Middleton's great work, and was on the best of terms personally with this great iconographer. Therefore, following Dutuit's classification we find among Rembrandt's portraits of himself:--(52) Rembrandt with Broad Hat and Embroidered Mantle, seventh, eighth, and ninth states; for the seventh Dutuit gave 3,000 fr. (137) Rembrandt leang on a Stone Sill, dated I639, first state, for which Dutuit paid 3,000 fr. ; also the second state slightly retouched with Indian ink. (160) Rembrandt drawing, with the white hand and before the landscape. (111) Portrait, unknown, of a man with a sabre; second state with the four projections at the top, bottom, and sides; also the third state without the projections; this is also known as Rembrandt with sabre and aigrette. (I73) Rembrandt on a high and narrow plate ; no other impression of this etching is known; it is on China paper, and came from the Barnard collection, and also belonged to the Harrash collection at Vienna, where it cost 325 fr.; it bears low down on the left the faintly-engraved inscription,'Rembrandt f. 1658.' (91) The Persian, a priceless proof, one of the finest in the Dutuit collection. (247) Four prints for a Spanish Book. These were originally etched on one plate; the plate was then divided and further impressions taken. Those in the collection are in the first state on parchment ; and among the books of the collection is a copy of this rare volume, which is entitled ' Piedra gloriosa de lac estatua de Nabuchadenesar con muchas y diversas authoridades de la S.S. antiguos sabios. Compuesta par el Hacham Menassah Ben Ysrael. Amsterdam: 5415 (1655 A.D.).'

One of the chief treasures of the collection is (224) The Hundred Guilder Plate, known in France as La piece de cent florins, Jesus Christ healing the Sick. As is well known, only nine impressions of this magnificent plate in its first state exist; and one of these, in the museum of Amsterdam, is a 'maculature,' an impression on a sheet of ordinary paper passed over the plate to remove the ink. The eight others, all in fine condition, are on India paper. Two are in the British Museum, the others in Paris, Amsterdam, the Royal Library, Vienna, and the collection oftheDuke ofBuccleuch. The seventh was bought by Danlos for £1,750 at the Holford sale in July I893. The eighth, of which we give an illustration,[3] is one of the very finest, with a wide margin, and was lent by M.Dutuit to the Burlington Fine Arts Club in I877. This print belonged to Jan Petersen Zoomer, with whom Rembrandt made the famous deal, giving the example on India paper now in the Amsterdam museum, which bears the inscription on the back, in exchange for some engravings by Marc Antonio,which Zoomer valued at 100 florins. Whether or not the story, which is told by Bartsch, is true, the print has always been known by this name. At Zoomer's death his collection of Rembrandt's etchings was acquired by Signor Zanetti, of Venice. His descendants sold the whole, including this Dutuit print, to Baron Denon, director of the Louvre under the first Empire. At his sale in 1827 it was bought by Smith at 3,360 fr. for Sir Charles Price, and was exhibited at Manchester in I857. Mr. Palmer bought it in 1867 for £1,180; and in May of the next year, after his death, M. Dutuit secured it for £1,100. The price had augmented considerably in little more than 100 years; for in the catalogue of Amadé de Burgy's sale at the Hague in 1755 we find this entry : 'Pice de 100 florins, extremement rare et si excellente d'épreuve qu'on n'en a jamais vu de semblable, 151 fr. 20 ct. Sur papier de Chine, avec quelques change- ments, 176 fr. 40.'

A fine impression of the second state is also included in the collection; and whatever may be the differences, such as the alteration in the wedge-shaped light on the left, which is such a disputed point among connoisseurs, the second state seems, in early impressions at all events, little, if at all, inferior to the first. Dutuit, indeed, says 'Lorsque les épreuves du 2me état sont bien velouties dans les ombres, elles sont préférables à celles du 1er état.'

Of almost equal importance is the large plate, first state, of (235) The Three Crosses, in which chiaroscuro, with which Rembrandt was becoming more and more occupied, plays an amazing part, the intense light being used with startling and awe-inspiring effect to enhance the horror and pathos of the moment. The same strong effect of light we find in (188) The Resurrection of Lazarus, a large print, a proof in which the terrified man has a bare head.[4] (248) Our Lord before Pilate, first state, from the large plate, on China paper with a strip of India paper pasted along the top, made the following prices during the nineteenth century: Dumesnil sale, 2,692 fr.; Verstolk,1,990 fr.; Howard, 6,225fr.; Galichon, 4,700 fr.; Didot,2,905fr. (187) The Great Descent from the Cross is a proof from the second plate. (205) Joseph Telling his Dreams, first state. Dutuit paid 1,500 fr. for this extremely rare print, of which only two examples of this state are known. (228) The Triumph of Mordecai, the finest known proof of this plate. (243) The Presentation, in Rembrandt's 'dark manner,' is represented by a superb proof which cost 12,000 fr. (210) The Baptism of the Eunuch, an extremely rare print, was bought for 800 fr. (185) The Good Samaritan, signed and dated 1633, first and second states, with the white tail to the horse and the unshaded wall; also the rare fourth state in which the wall is shaded and the branch burnished out. The second state fetched 429 fr. at Dumesnil's sale, 747 fr. at Verstolk's, and 2,100 fr. at Thorel's; while in 1753 the first and second states only reached 37 fr. 80. (207) Death of the Virgin, first state, bought for 3,000 fr. (190) St. Jerome sitting at the Foot of a Tree, first and second states; the proof of the first state was bought in for 20 florins at the Verstolk sale in I847, and sold for 8 florins in 1851. (234) St. Jerome, an unfinished piece, first state. (209) Decollation of St. John Baptist, is one of the only three good impressions in existence, according to Mr. Middleton.

(296) An Allegorical Piece, a rare print, fetched at the Verstolk sale 94 fr. 50; Harrash, 660 fr. ; Didot, 2,820 fr. (291) Dr. Faustus, of which we give an illustration.[5] (286) Medea, or the Marriage of Jason and Creusa, first state, a superb impression on India paper with this inscription at the back, 'd. Medea. Six,' in faded brown ink, and another inscription, but in a later writing, ' selected by Rembrandt for the Burgomaster Six'; also the third state; and the fourth state on a folded sheet of paper, ready to serve as an illustration for Jan Six's tragedy of ' Medea,' printed in 1648, on which is written 'H. Six.' A copy of the first edition of this extremely scarce book is among the books of the Dutuit collection containing this print; the plate may possibly have been engraved for the volume: but, as Dutuit pointed out, the subject does not exactly coincide with any scene in the tragedy, so that it would be rash to affirm it as a fact. (272) The large Lion Hunt, 1641, first and second states. (277) The Hog, first and the rare second state. (66) The Onion Woman, second state. The attribution to Rembrandt of this far from beautiful piece has several times been rejected, but Mr. Middleton and Ch. Blanc both maintain it; and the latter adds, 'If it is to be rejected the same must be done with many other of the master's prints in his first manner.' (79) The Little Polander. This print is excessively rare; only five impressions are known of it, of which the British Museum possesses two; the Cabinet d'Estampes, Paris, one, which in 1809 fetched 252 fr. at the Pole-Carew sale ; Verstolk bought it in 1835 for 1,338 fr., and at his sale it was bought by the French Government for 420 fr. Among the landscapes we find the second and third states of (309) The Three Trees.[6] (303) A large Tree and a House. (325) TheThree Cottages; second and third states. (306) A large Landscape with a Dutch Hay Barn; the superb proof of the extremely rare fourth state fetched at the Dumesnil sale 171 fr., Kalle 800 fr., Didot 1,420 fr., Schloesser 1,825 fr. The Dutuit collection also contains the fifth and ninth. (307) A large Landscape with a Mill Sail, two proofs of the finest quality. (308) A Cottage with White Pales, first and second states. (326) The Goldweigher's Field. (318) Landscape with a Cow Drinking, first state. This was the last etching which Auguste Dutuit bought; he gave 3,000 fr. for it at the Arlaria sale.

The portraits are extremely fine in quality. Among them are the four first states of (164) Clement de Jonghe. (172) Abraham Franz, the rare and fine fourth state, and the fifth and sixth states. (168) Jacob Haring, known as The Old Haring; the second state on vellum, for which Dutuit gave 10,000 fr ; one of the most valuable prints in the collection. (169) Thomas Jacobsz Haring, The Young Haring, first and second states; the first state on vellum was bought for 5,000 fr. (171) Johannes Lutma, two proofs of the first state; one, a duplicate of the Amsterdam impression which Claussin catalogues as a sketch, but which was probably a 'maculature' (see The Hundred Guilders above), was bought for 441 fr. (162) Lieven Willemz van Coppenol, a small plate, known as Le Petit Coppenol, third and fourth states. For (174) Coppenol, a large plate, Le Grand Coppenol, first state on a white background, Dutuit gave 33,000 fr. (158) Ephraim Bonus, Le Juif a la rampe, second state. An impression of the first state fetched 50,000 fr. (£1.950) at the Holford sale, when it was bought by Danlos, with 224, presumably for Baron Edmond de Rothschild. (1 4) Johannes Uijtenbogaerd, third state, with the projections.[7] At Dumesnil's sale this impression fetched 83 fr. 20 ; Verstolk's, 210 fr.; Didot's, 710 fr.; and at Schloesser's, Dutuit gave 1,712fr. for it. (138) The Gold Weigher, or Uijtenbogaerd, first and second states. The prices of the first state have varied curiously on its way through the great sales. Revil, 206 fr.; Dumesnil, 601 fr.; Verstolk, 338 fr.; Didot, 6,500 fr. (108) Study of Saskia called The Great Jewish Bride, first and second states. Dutuit denied with some vehemence that this is indeed a study of Rembrandt's wife, who in all authentic portraits is far more delicate and refined in face. In (107) Rembrandt's Wife with Pearls in her Hair, he raises the same question, but, 'as the piece,' he says, ' is dated 1634, the year of the artist's marriage, it is probable that he made certain studies of his wife's head.' This is an undescribed state before the pearl earrings were introduced. (170) Arnoldus Tholinx. (159) The Burgomaster Six, standing at a window reading a pamphlet, probably his drama of 'Medea,' second and third states. The latter, of which we give an illustration,[8] is a superb impression bought by M. Dutuit at the Chambry sale for 7,500 fr. In the eighteenth century Gersaint attended the sale in Holland of a descendant of Six, when twenty-five of these third-state impressions were sold at 15 to 18 florins each. The exceedingly rare second state fetched 1,924 fr. at Dumesnil's sale, 2,700 fr. at Revil's (1830), 3,000 fr. at Debois'; it was bought by Didot for 6,250 fr., and sold for 17,000 fr. The original plate is still in the hands of the Six family.

Rich and choice as this collection is there are several notable gaps in it. But it is to be hoped that such omissions in so valuable a collection may, as occasion offers, be made good in course of time, thanks to the munificent bequest ofAuguste Dutuit, who, as we have already pointed for the conservation and augmentation of out in this magazine, left ,7,000 a year his noble gift to the city of Paris

[1] Vol. I, page 381 (May 1903).
[2] The numbers are according to Mr. Middleton's catalog
[3] Page 73
[4] Reproduced on page 75
[5] Reproduced on page 79
[6] Second state reproduced on page 77
[7] Reproduced on page 75
[8] Page 79