Rembrandt’s Saul and David at the Mauritshuis: A Progress Report

Rembrandt van Rijn and/or Studio of,  Saul and David,  ca. 1655, Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague

Saul and David was regarded as one of Rembrandt’s great masterpieces in the past, but its attribution has been questioned by experts. The painting, which is currently undergoing conservation treatment, has recently been the subject of intensive technical research. This “progress report” about ongoing research on Saul and David highlights current thinking about the painting’s original format; the use of new technologies to investigate the painting; and the challenges in deciding how to treat the painting. The subject offers a telling perspective on how research and treatment of paintings by Rembrandt has changed since Egbert Haverkamp Begemann was a young scholar.

DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2013.5.2.11

Acknowledgements

Egbert frequently remarked that Rembrandt must have been an extraordinary teacher, because his pupils branched out in such various directions, so often with success. We would say the same about Egbert – both of us studied with him at the Institute of Fine Arts and both ended up at the Mauritshuis, but in different capacities. We would like to thank him for his critical judgment, superb guidance, and continuing interest in our research and careers.

Rembrandt van Rijn and/or Studio of,  Saul and David,  ca. 1655,  Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague
Fig. 1 Rembrandt van Rijn and/or Studio of, Saul and David, ca. 1655, oil on canvas, 130.5 x 164.5 cm (with additions). Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague, inv. no. 621
Fig. 2 Construction of the canvas support with strips labeled A, B, C, D, E, and the later insert F.The large dashed lines represent the notched joins in the canvas and the finer dashed lines the added strips. The finest dashed line marks the original right edge of the painting. The solid horizontal line represents the original seam.
Fig. 2 Construction of the canvas support with strips labeled A, B, C, D, E, and the later insert F. The large dashed lines represent the notched joins in the canvas and the finer dashed lines the added strips. The finest dashed line marks the original right edge of the painting. The solid horizontal line represents the original seam.
Anthony van Dyck,  Isabella Clara Eugenia,  ca. 1628,  Galleria Sabauda, Turin
Fig. 3 Anthony van Dyck, Isabella Clara Eugenia, ca. 1628, oil oncanvas 183 x 121 cm. Galleria Sabauda, Turin, inv. no. 279
Fig. 4 X-ray of Saul and David (assembly of twenty-four films) showing notched vertical join, insert (F) and added strips on three sides (A, B, C, D, E)
Fig. 4 X-ray of Saul and David (assembly of twenty-four films) showing notched vertical join, insert (F) and added strips on three sides (A, B, C, D, E)
Fig. 5a Horizontal (warp threads) weave angle map showing strong cusping along the upper edge; only faint cusping can be discerned at the bottom edge. (from D. H. Johnson and C. R. Johnson Jr.,“Thread Count Report: Saul and David, July 2010, figs. 3 and 5, unpublished report: The Thread Count Automation Project; see http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson)
Fig. 5a Horizontal (warp threads) weave angle map showing strong cusping along the upper edge; only faint cusping can be discerned at the bottom edge. (from D. H. Johnson and C. R. Johnson Jr.,“Thread Count Report: Saul and David, July 2010, figs. 3 and 5, unpublished report: The Thread Count Automation Project; see http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson)
Fig. 5b Vertical (weft threads) weave angle map showing strong cusping along left and right edges (from D. H. Johnson and C. R. Johnson Jr.,“Thread Count Report: Saul and David, July 2010, figs. 3 and 5, unpublished report: The Thread Count Automation Project; see http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson)
Fig. 5b Vertical (weft threads) weave angle map showing strong cusping along left and right edges (from D. H. Johnson and C. R. Johnson Jr.,“Thread Count Report: Saul and David, July 2010, figs. 3 and 5, unpublished report: The Thread Count Automation Project; see http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson)
Fig. 6 Lower right detail of the X-ray showing flattened original tacking edge and added strips B and C
Fig. 6 Lower right detail of the X-ray showing flattened original tacking edge and added strips B and C
Fig. 7 Left: detail of the X-ray showing notched vertical join in the linen support at lower edge. The white rectangle indicates the location of the detail.
Fig. 7-left Detail of the X-ray showing notched vertical join in the linen support at lower edge. The white rectangle indicates the location of the detail.
Fig. 7 Right: high resolution detail showing one of the notches where a weave fault consisting of several thick threads does not continue across the join.
Fig. 7-right High resolution detail showing one of the notches where a weave fault consisting of several thick threads does not continue across the join.
Fig. 8 Possible reconstruction of the original format measuring ca. 145 x 180 cm
Fig. 8 Possible reconstruction of the original format measuring ca. 145 x 180 cm
Fig. 9 Digital infrared reflectogram (Osiris camera, assembly of six images), showing extension of overpaint in the background between the two figures.
Fig. 9 Digital infrared reflectogram (Osiris camera, assembly of six images), showing extension of overpaint in the background between the two figures.
Fig. 10 Location of paint cross-sections
Fig. 10 Location of paint cross-sections
Fig. 11 Cobalt (Co-K) distribution map (XRF scanning) from the pigment smalt in the original curtain; associated nickel and arsenic maps not shown (from Noble et al., Technè 35 [2012]: fig. 3D)
Fig. 11 Cobalt (Co-K) distribution map (XRF scanning) from the pigment smalt in the original curtain; associated nickel and arsenic maps not shown (from Noble et al., Technè 35 [2012]: fig. 3D)
  1. 1. Egbert Haverkamp Begemann, “Rembrandt as a Teacher,” in Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years: An Exhibition of Rembrandt and His Followers, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Detroit Institute of Arts, 1969–70,) 21–30.

  2. 2. D. C. Stam, ed., Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years: A Symposium – Rembrandt and His Followers, October 22–24, 1969 (Art Institute of Chicago, 1973).

  3. 3. On the evolution of the Rembrandt Research Project’s thinking about technical data and connoisseurship, see Ernst van de Wetering, “The Rembrandt Research Project: Past, Present, Future,” in A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings IV, Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project (Dordrecht: Springer, 2005), ix–xxii.

  4. 4. Joshua Bruyn in “Round Table Discussion: Problems of Attribution,” in Stam, Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years, 40.

  5. 5. A. B. de Vries, Magda Tóth-Ubbens, and W. Froentjes, Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis(Alphen aan de Rijn: Sijthoff & Noordhoff International Publishers, 1978), xi, 149–65.

  6. 6. This essay draws on Petria Noble, “Altered Formats of Rembrandt Paintings: Use of Documentary Evidence and Technical Examination for Determining Original Format,”Desipientia Kunsthuistorisch Tijdschrift 16 (2009): 29–33; Petria Noble and Annelies van Loon, “Overview of Cross-Sections and SEM-EDX Results of Rembrandt and/or Studio of,Saul and David” (unpublished report); Petria Noble, “Summary of Technical Findings 2007-2010, Rembrandt and/or Studio of, Saul and David c.1655,” July 9, 2010 (unpublished report); Petria Noble, Annelies van Loon, C. Richard Johnson Jr., and Don H. Johnson, “Technical Investigation of Rembrandt and/or Studio of, Saul and David, from the Collection of the Mauritshuis,”, 16th Triennial Meeting of ICOM Committee for Conservation, Lisbon (2011), Preprints, ed. Janet Bridgland et al., paper 1316; Petria Noble, Annelies van Loon, Matthias Alfeld, Koen Janssens, and Joris Dik, “Rembrandt and/or Studio, Saul and Davidc.1655: Visualising the Curtain Using Cross-section Analyses and X-ray Fluorescence Imaging,”Technè 35 (2012): 36–45.

  7. 7. For a history of the painting and provenance information, see Ben Broos, Intimacies and Intrigues: History Paintings in the Mauritshuis (The Hague: Mauritshuis, 1993), 279–86.

  8. 8. Abraham Bredius, Vereniging tot bevordering van beeldende kunsten: Verzameling ‘Mauritshuis’; met bijschrift van Dr. A. Bredius (N.p., 1903), unpaginated.

  9. 9. Marjolein de Boer and Josefine Leistra, Bredius, Rembrandt en het Mauritshuis!!! (Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers, 1991), 72–75, no. 11.

  10. 10. Abraham Bredius Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings, revised by Horst Gerson (London: Phaidon, 1969), nos. 526, 602.

  11. 11. The little that is known about the treatment history of the painting comes from newspaper articles from the turn of the twentieth century, when the painting was restored in Berlin by Bredius’s favourite restorer, Alois Hauser (1857–1919) between 1900 and 1901. Several articles refer to the removal of a hundred-year old varnish and state that Hauser gave the modern insert in the upper right corner its present dark tone. See Knipselboek 1885–1927, unpublished, Mauritshuis Archives, 19, 31A, 32. For summary of treatment history, see Noble et al., 16th Triennial Meeting of ICOM.

  12. 12. Provenance: Coll. Victor-Louis-Charles de Riquet (1762–1835), Duke of Caraman, Vienna and Paris, until 1830; Caraman auction, Paris, lot 76 (as Rembrandt), May 1830 [“T.h.45 p. l. 67” (= c.121.5 x 180.9 cm]; Coll. Didot de Saint Marc, Paris, until 1835; Coll. Mrs. Abel Vautier (widow Saint Marc), Caen, auctioned Paris, December 1863, lot 31 (as Rembrandt); Coll. Alphonse Oudry (1819–1869), Paris, auctioned Paris, April 1869, lot 52 (as Rembrandt) [“Toile. – H. 1m. 31 c., L. 1 m. 64 c.”]; Dealer Durand-Ruel, Paris; Coll. Fébure, Paris, around 1870; Coll. Saint Bourgeois, Cologne, before 1876; Dealer Durand-Ruel, Paris and New York (exhibited: The World’s Congresses, Art Institute of Chicago, September 1893, no. 27; exhibited: Amsterdam 1898, no. 118); Coll. Abraham Bredius (1855–1946), The Hague (on loan to the Mauritshuis; exhibited: Moscow/Leningrad 1936), 1898; Bequest to Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, 1946. See also:  http://www.rkd.nl/rkddb/dispatcher.aspxaction=search&database=ChoiceImages&search=priref=2912

  13. 13. Gregor J. M. Weber, “Rembrandt Untertan,” Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis (2011): 70–75.

  14. 14. Given the picture’s provenance and  French stretcher, the paste lining using a plain weave canvas was probably done in France. Although Hauser is known to have carried out paste linings, it is unlikely that he also relined the picture, since he normally used twill weave canvas for auxiliary supports. Ute Stehr, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, e-mail message, November 16, 2007.

  15. 15. Depending on the region where the cloth was produced, this could vary between 65.6 and 75.0 cm. In 1725 the Dutch ell was standardized to 69.4 cm. J. M. Verhoeff, De oude Nederlandse maten en gewichten, 2nd ed. (Amsterdam: P. J Meertens-Instituut, 1983), 2, 23, 57, 103. See also Ernst van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support,” in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1997), 91–128.

  16. 16. The X-ray films were scanned into 16-bit grayscale tiff files at high resolution (600 dpi). Automatic thread counting was carried out by C. R. Johnson Jr. (Cornell University) and D. H. Johnson (Rice University) using novel software based on signal processing algorithms. C. Richard Johnson, Ella Hendriks, Petria Noble, and Michiel Franken, “Advances in Computer-assisted Canvas Examination: Thread Counting Algorithms,” paper presented at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Paintings Specialty Group, Los Angeles, 2009). See http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/aic-pap.pdf.

  17. 17. Visible at the left edge extending to a depth of 13 cm, at the (lower) right 18 cm, and along the upper edge to 10 cm into the weave. Only faint remains of cusping are visible at the bottom edge.

  18. 18. D. H. Johnson and C. R. Johnson Jr., “Thread Count Report: Saul and David, July 2010” (unpublished report), The Thread Count Automation Project. See http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/

  19. 19. This conclusion is in contrast to the findings of De Vries, Tóth-Ubbens, and Froentjes,Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis, 149, who concluded it was not possible to ascertain how much of the height or width had been lost.

  20. 20. “One should take into account that the canvas has been cut into two parts. . . . This may partly help to excuse the emptiness of the curtain-motive, but not the superficial handling and the somewhat ‘larmoyant’ interpretation.” Bredius/Gerson, Rembrandt: The Complete Edition, 602.

  21. 21. Second Saul and David commission meeting, Mauritshuis, May 2008.

  22. 22. We are grateful to the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, which lent its Osiris infrared camera (Opus Instruments), July 2009. This camera has a penetration in IR to 1700 nm.

  23. 23. The ground in the Saul and David is consistent with the ground identified in a group of paintings from Rembrandt’s workshop from the 1650s and 1660s, see Karin M. Groen, “Tables of Grounds in Rembrandt’s Workshop and in Paintings by His Contemporaries,” in A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings IV, 674–75. For full technical details of the paint sample analyses see Noble and Van Loon,Overview of Cross-sections and SEM-EDX results of Rembrandt and/or Studio of, Saul and David, MH inv 621, 2010 (see note 6).

  24. 24. Noble et al., “Rembrandt and/or Studio, Saul and Davidc.1655: visualising the curtain using cross-section analyses and X-ray fluorescence imaging,” in Technè 35, 36-45. XRF imaging of late Rembrandt paintings is being explored in a larger study as part of the Science4Arts project: ReVisRembrandt (a joint application of the Mauritshuis and Delft University of Technology, and several [inter]national partners), funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (www.nwo.nl/science4arts).

  25. 25. Jakob Rosenberg, “Lecture: Rembrandt the Draughtsman,” in Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years: A Symposium – Rembrandt and His Followers, 109.

  26. 26. De Vries, Tóth-Ubbens, and Froentjes, Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis, 160.

  27. 27. Henry Adams, “If Not Rembrandt, Then His cousin?,” Art Bulletin 66, no. 3 (1984): 427–41. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3050445

  28. 28. Christian Tümpel, Rembrandt (Antwerp: Mercatorfonds, 1986), 420.

  29. 29. Broos, Intimacies and Intrigues, 288.

  30. 30. Jonathan Bikker, Willem Drost (1633–1659): A Rembrandt Pupil in Amsterdam and Venice (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005), 128–31.

  31. 31. Ernst van de Wetering “‘Principaelen’ and Satellites: Pupils’ Production in Rembrandt’s Workshop,” in., Rembrandt? The Master and His Workshop, by Lene Bøgh Rønberg et al. (Copenhagen: Statens Museum for Kunst, 2006), 109n11, 122. See also Michiel Franken, “Learning by Imitation: Copying Paintings in Rembrandt’s Workshop,” in Rembrandt: Quest of a Genius, ed. Bob van den Boogert (Zwolle and Amsterdam: Waanders, 2006), 153–77; and Jaap van der Veen, “By His Own Hand: The Valuation of Autograph Paintings in the 17thCentury,” in Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings IV, 24, 30.

  32. 32. For various categories of workshop production, see Franken in Rembrandt: Quest of a Genius, 156. Also Van der Veen in Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings IV, 3–44.

  33. 33. Draft entry Br 526, generously shared by the author. A reproduction of the painting is included in the current exhibition of reproductions – Rembrandt: All His Paintings – on view at Magna Plaza, Amsterdam.

Adams, Henry. “If Not Rembrandt, Then His Cousin?” Art Bulletin 66, no. 3 (1984): 427–41. 
http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3050445

Alfeld, Matthias, Koen Janssens, Joris Dik, Wout de Nolf, and Geert van der Snickt. “Optimization of Mobile Scanning Macro-XRF Systems for the in situ Investigation of Historical Paintings.” Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry 26 (2011): 899–909. 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c0ja00257g

Bikker, Jonathan. Willem Drost (1633–1659): A Rembrandt Pupil in Amsterdam and Venice. New Haven and London: Yale University Press,2005.

De Boer, Marjolein, and Josefine Leistra. Bredius, Rembrandt en het Mauritshuis!!! Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers, 1991.

Bomford, David, Jo Kirby, Ashok Roy, Axel Rüger, and Raymond White. Art in the Making: Rembrandt. London: National Gallery Company, 2006.

Bredius, Abraham. Vereniging tot bevordering van beeldende kunsten: Verzameling “Mauritshuis”; met bijschrift van Dr. A. Bredius. N.p., 1903.

Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings. Revised by Horst Gerson. London: Phaidon, 1969.

Broos, Ben. Intimacies and Intrigues: History Paintings in the Mauritshuis. The Hague: Mauritshuis, 1993.

Franken, Michiel. “Learning by Imitation: Copying Paintings in Rembrandt’s Workshop.” In Rembrandt: Quest of a Genius, edited by Bob van den Boogert, 153–77. Zwolle and Amsterdam: Waanders, 2006.

Groen, Karin M. “Tables of Grounds in Rembrandt’s Workshop and in Paintings by His Contemporaries.” In A Corpus of Rembrandt PaintingsIV, by Ernst van de Wetering, with contributions by Karin Groen, Peter Klein, Jaap van der Veen, and Marieke de Winkel, 318–34, 674–75. Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project. Dordrecht: Springer, 2005.

Haverkamp Begemann, Egbert. “Rembrandt as a Teacher.” In Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years: An Exhibition of Rembrandt and His Followers, 21–30. Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Detroit Institute of Arts, 1969–70.

Johnson, C. Richard, Ella Hendriks, Petria Noble, and Michiel Franken. “Advances in Computer-assisted Canvas Examination: Thread Counting Algorithms.” Paper presented at the37th Annual Meeting of theAmerican Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Paintings Specialty Group, Los Angeles, May 21, 2009. See http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/aic-pap.pdf

Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) databases. “RKDimages.” Accessed August 3, 2011. http://www.rkd.nl/rkddb/dispatcher.aspx?action=search&database=ChoiceImages&search=priref=2912

Noble, Petria. “Altered Formats of Rembrandt Paintings: Use of Documentary Evidence and Technical Examination for Determining Original Format.” Desipientia Kunsthistorisch Tijdschrift 16 (2009): 29–33.

Noble, Petria, Annelies van Loon, C. Richard Johnson Jr., and Don H. Johnson. “Technical Investigation of Rembrandt and/or Studio of, Saul and David from the Collection of the Mauritshuis.” In 16th Triennial Meeting of ICOM Committee for Conservation, Lisbon 2011 Preprints, edited by Janet Bridgland et al., paper 1316.

Noble, Petria, Annelies van Loon, Matthias Alfeld, Koen Janssens, and Joris Dik. “Rembrandt and/or Studio, Saul and David, c.1655: Visualising the Curtain Using Cross-section Analyses and X-ray Fluorescence Imaging.” Technè 35 (2012): 36–45.

Rosenberg, Jakob. “Lecture: Rembrandt the Draughtsman.” In Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years: A Symposium – Rembrandt and His Followers,October 22–24, 1969. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1973.

Schwartz, Gary. Rembrandt: His Life, His Paintings. New York, 1985.

Stam, D.C., ed. Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years: A Symposium – Rembrandt and His Followers, October 22–24, 1969. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1973.

Tümpel, Christian. Rembrandt. Antwerp: Mercatorfonds, 1986.

Van der Veen, Jaap. “By His Own Hand: The Valuation of Autograph Paintings in the 17th Century.” InCorpus of Rembrandt Paintings IV, by Ernst van de Wetering et al., ix–xxii. Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project. Dordrecht: Springer, 2005.

Verhoeff, J. M. De oude Nederlandse maten en gewichten. 2nd ed. Amsterdam: P. J Meertens-Instituut, 1983.

De Vries, A. B., Magda Tóth-Ubbens, and W. Froentjes. Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis. Alphen aan de Rijn: Sijthoff & Noordhoff International Publishers, 1978.

Weber, Gregor J. M. “Rembrandt Untertan.” Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis (2011): 70–75.

Van de Wetering, Ernst. “The Canvas Support.” In A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings II, by J. Bruyn et al., 15–43. Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project. Dordrecht: Springer, 1986.

Van de Wetering, Ernst. “The Canvas Support.” In Rembrandt: The Painter at Work, 91–128. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1997.

Van de Wetering, Ernst. “The Rembrandt Research Project: Past, Present, Future.” In A Corpus of Rembrandt PaintingsIV, by Ernst van de Wetering et al., ix–xxii. Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project. Dordrecht: Springer, 2005.

Van de Wetering, Ernst, with contributions by Michiel Franken, Jan Kelch, Bernd Lindemann, Volker Manuth, and Christian Tümpel. Rembrandt: Quest of a Genius, edited by Bob van den Boogert. Zwolle and Amsterdam: Waanders, 2006.

Van de Wetering, Ernst. “‘Principaelen’ and Satellites: Pupils’ Production in Rembrandt’s Workshop.” In Rembrandt? The Master and His Workshop, by Lene Bøgh Rønberg et al., 106–22. Copenhagen: Statens Museum for Kunst, 2006.

List of Illustrations

Rembrandt van Rijn and/or Studio of,  Saul and David,  ca. 1655,  Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague
Fig. 1 Rembrandt van Rijn and/or Studio of, Saul and David, ca. 1655, oil on canvas, 130.5 x 164.5 cm (with additions). Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague, inv. no. 621
Fig. 2 Construction of the canvas support with strips labeled A, B, C, D, E, and the later insert F.The large dashed lines represent the notched joins in the canvas and the finer dashed lines the added strips. The finest dashed line marks the original right edge of the painting. The solid horizontal line represents the original seam.
Fig. 2 Construction of the canvas support with strips labeled A, B, C, D, E, and the later insert F. The large dashed lines represent the notched joins in the canvas and the finer dashed lines the added strips. The finest dashed line marks the original right edge of the painting. The solid horizontal line represents the original seam.
Anthony van Dyck,  Isabella Clara Eugenia,  ca. 1628,  Galleria Sabauda, Turin
Fig. 3 Anthony van Dyck, Isabella Clara Eugenia, ca. 1628, oil oncanvas 183 x 121 cm. Galleria Sabauda, Turin, inv. no. 279
Fig. 4 X-ray of Saul and David (assembly of twenty-four films) showing notched vertical join, insert (F) and added strips on three sides (A, B, C, D, E)
Fig. 4 X-ray of Saul and David (assembly of twenty-four films) showing notched vertical join, insert (F) and added strips on three sides (A, B, C, D, E)
Fig. 5a Horizontal (warp threads) weave angle map showing strong cusping along the upper edge; only faint cusping can be discerned at the bottom edge. (from D. H. Johnson and C. R. Johnson Jr.,“Thread Count Report: Saul and David, July 2010, figs. 3 and 5, unpublished report: The Thread Count Automation Project; see http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson)
Fig. 5a Horizontal (warp threads) weave angle map showing strong cusping along the upper edge; only faint cusping can be discerned at the bottom edge. (from D. H. Johnson and C. R. Johnson Jr.,“Thread Count Report: Saul and David, July 2010, figs. 3 and 5, unpublished report: The Thread Count Automation Project; see http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson)
Fig. 5b Vertical (weft threads) weave angle map showing strong cusping along left and right edges (from D. H. Johnson and C. R. Johnson Jr.,“Thread Count Report: Saul and David, July 2010, figs. 3 and 5, unpublished report: The Thread Count Automation Project; see http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson)
Fig. 5b Vertical (weft threads) weave angle map showing strong cusping along left and right edges (from D. H. Johnson and C. R. Johnson Jr.,“Thread Count Report: Saul and David, July 2010, figs. 3 and 5, unpublished report: The Thread Count Automation Project; see http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson)
Fig. 6 Lower right detail of the X-ray showing flattened original tacking edge and added strips B and C
Fig. 6 Lower right detail of the X-ray showing flattened original tacking edge and added strips B and C
Fig. 7 Left: detail of the X-ray showing notched vertical join in the linen support at lower edge. The white rectangle indicates the location of the detail.
Fig. 7-left Detail of the X-ray showing notched vertical join in the linen support at lower edge. The white rectangle indicates the location of the detail.
Fig. 7 Right: high resolution detail showing one of the notches where a weave fault consisting of several thick threads does not continue across the join.
Fig. 7-right High resolution detail showing one of the notches where a weave fault consisting of several thick threads does not continue across the join.
Fig. 8 Possible reconstruction of the original format measuring ca. 145 x 180 cm
Fig. 8 Possible reconstruction of the original format measuring ca. 145 x 180 cm
Fig. 9 Digital infrared reflectogram (Osiris camera, assembly of six images), showing extension of overpaint in the background between the two figures.
Fig. 9 Digital infrared reflectogram (Osiris camera, assembly of six images), showing extension of overpaint in the background between the two figures.
Fig. 10 Location of paint cross-sections
Fig. 10 Location of paint cross-sections
Fig. 11 Cobalt (Co-K) distribution map (XRF scanning) from the pigment smalt in the original curtain; associated nickel and arsenic maps not shown (from Noble et al., Technè 35 [2012]: fig. 3D)
Fig. 11 Cobalt (Co-K) distribution map (XRF scanning) from the pigment smalt in the original curtain; associated nickel and arsenic maps not shown (from Noble et al., Technè 35 [2012]: fig. 3D)

Footnotes

  1. 1. Egbert Haverkamp Begemann, “Rembrandt as a Teacher,” in Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years: An Exhibition of Rembrandt and His Followers, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Detroit Institute of Arts, 1969–70,) 21–30.

  2. 2. D. C. Stam, ed., Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years: A Symposium – Rembrandt and His Followers, October 22–24, 1969 (Art Institute of Chicago, 1973).

  3. 3. On the evolution of the Rembrandt Research Project’s thinking about technical data and connoisseurship, see Ernst van de Wetering, “The Rembrandt Research Project: Past, Present, Future,” in A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings IV, Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project (Dordrecht: Springer, 2005), ix–xxii.

  4. 4. Joshua Bruyn in “Round Table Discussion: Problems of Attribution,” in Stam, Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years, 40.

  5. 5. A. B. de Vries, Magda Tóth-Ubbens, and W. Froentjes, Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis(Alphen aan de Rijn: Sijthoff & Noordhoff International Publishers, 1978), xi, 149–65.

  6. 6. This essay draws on Petria Noble, “Altered Formats of Rembrandt Paintings: Use of Documentary Evidence and Technical Examination for Determining Original Format,”Desipientia Kunsthuistorisch Tijdschrift 16 (2009): 29–33; Petria Noble and Annelies van Loon, “Overview of Cross-Sections and SEM-EDX Results of Rembrandt and/or Studio of,Saul and David” (unpublished report); Petria Noble, “Summary of Technical Findings 2007-2010, Rembrandt and/or Studio of, Saul and David c.1655,” July 9, 2010 (unpublished report); Petria Noble, Annelies van Loon, C. Richard Johnson Jr., and Don H. Johnson, “Technical Investigation of Rembrandt and/or Studio of, Saul and David, from the Collection of the Mauritshuis,”, 16th Triennial Meeting of ICOM Committee for Conservation, Lisbon (2011), Preprints, ed. Janet Bridgland et al., paper 1316; Petria Noble, Annelies van Loon, Matthias Alfeld, Koen Janssens, and Joris Dik, “Rembrandt and/or Studio, Saul and Davidc.1655: Visualising the Curtain Using Cross-section Analyses and X-ray Fluorescence Imaging,”Technè 35 (2012): 36–45.

  7. 7. For a history of the painting and provenance information, see Ben Broos, Intimacies and Intrigues: History Paintings in the Mauritshuis (The Hague: Mauritshuis, 1993), 279–86.

  8. 8. Abraham Bredius, Vereniging tot bevordering van beeldende kunsten: Verzameling ‘Mauritshuis’; met bijschrift van Dr. A. Bredius (N.p., 1903), unpaginated.

  9. 9. Marjolein de Boer and Josefine Leistra, Bredius, Rembrandt en het Mauritshuis!!! (Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers, 1991), 72–75, no. 11.

  10. 10. Abraham Bredius Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings, revised by Horst Gerson (London: Phaidon, 1969), nos. 526, 602.

  11. 11. The little that is known about the treatment history of the painting comes from newspaper articles from the turn of the twentieth century, when the painting was restored in Berlin by Bredius’s favourite restorer, Alois Hauser (1857–1919) between 1900 and 1901. Several articles refer to the removal of a hundred-year old varnish and state that Hauser gave the modern insert in the upper right corner its present dark tone. See Knipselboek 1885–1927, unpublished, Mauritshuis Archives, 19, 31A, 32. For summary of treatment history, see Noble et al., 16th Triennial Meeting of ICOM.

  12. 12. Provenance: Coll. Victor-Louis-Charles de Riquet (1762–1835), Duke of Caraman, Vienna and Paris, until 1830; Caraman auction, Paris, lot 76 (as Rembrandt), May 1830 [“T.h.45 p. l. 67” (= c.121.5 x 180.9 cm]; Coll. Didot de Saint Marc, Paris, until 1835; Coll. Mrs. Abel Vautier (widow Saint Marc), Caen, auctioned Paris, December 1863, lot 31 (as Rembrandt); Coll. Alphonse Oudry (1819–1869), Paris, auctioned Paris, April 1869, lot 52 (as Rembrandt) [“Toile. – H. 1m. 31 c., L. 1 m. 64 c.”]; Dealer Durand-Ruel, Paris; Coll. Fébure, Paris, around 1870; Coll. Saint Bourgeois, Cologne, before 1876; Dealer Durand-Ruel, Paris and New York (exhibited: The World’s Congresses, Art Institute of Chicago, September 1893, no. 27; exhibited: Amsterdam 1898, no. 118); Coll. Abraham Bredius (1855–1946), The Hague (on loan to the Mauritshuis; exhibited: Moscow/Leningrad 1936), 1898; Bequest to Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, 1946. See also:  http://www.rkd.nl/rkddb/dispatcher.aspxaction=search&database=ChoiceImages&search=priref=2912

  13. 13. Gregor J. M. Weber, “Rembrandt Untertan,” Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis (2011): 70–75.

  14. 14. Given the picture’s provenance and  French stretcher, the paste lining using a plain weave canvas was probably done in France. Although Hauser is known to have carried out paste linings, it is unlikely that he also relined the picture, since he normally used twill weave canvas for auxiliary supports. Ute Stehr, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, e-mail message, November 16, 2007.

  15. 15. Depending on the region where the cloth was produced, this could vary between 65.6 and 75.0 cm. In 1725 the Dutch ell was standardized to 69.4 cm. J. M. Verhoeff, De oude Nederlandse maten en gewichten, 2nd ed. (Amsterdam: P. J Meertens-Instituut, 1983), 2, 23, 57, 103. See also Ernst van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support,” in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1997), 91–128.

  16. 16. The X-ray films were scanned into 16-bit grayscale tiff files at high resolution (600 dpi). Automatic thread counting was carried out by C. R. Johnson Jr. (Cornell University) and D. H. Johnson (Rice University) using novel software based on signal processing algorithms. C. Richard Johnson, Ella Hendriks, Petria Noble, and Michiel Franken, “Advances in Computer-assisted Canvas Examination: Thread Counting Algorithms,” paper presented at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Paintings Specialty Group, Los Angeles, 2009). See http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/aic-pap.pdf.

  17. 17. Visible at the left edge extending to a depth of 13 cm, at the (lower) right 18 cm, and along the upper edge to 10 cm into the weave. Only faint remains of cusping are visible at the bottom edge.

  18. 18. D. H. Johnson and C. R. Johnson Jr., “Thread Count Report: Saul and David, July 2010” (unpublished report), The Thread Count Automation Project. See http://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/

  19. 19. This conclusion is in contrast to the findings of De Vries, Tóth-Ubbens, and Froentjes,Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis, 149, who concluded it was not possible to ascertain how much of the height or width had been lost.

  20. 20. “One should take into account that the canvas has been cut into two parts. . . . This may partly help to excuse the emptiness of the curtain-motive, but not the superficial handling and the somewhat ‘larmoyant’ interpretation.” Bredius/Gerson, Rembrandt: The Complete Edition, 602.

  21. 21. Second Saul and David commission meeting, Mauritshuis, May 2008.

  22. 22. We are grateful to the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, which lent its Osiris infrared camera (Opus Instruments), July 2009. This camera has a penetration in IR to 1700 nm.

  23. 23. The ground in the Saul and David is consistent with the ground identified in a group of paintings from Rembrandt’s workshop from the 1650s and 1660s, see Karin M. Groen, “Tables of Grounds in Rembrandt’s Workshop and in Paintings by His Contemporaries,” in A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings IV, 674–75. For full technical details of the paint sample analyses see Noble and Van Loon,Overview of Cross-sections and SEM-EDX results of Rembrandt and/or Studio of, Saul and David, MH inv 621, 2010 (see note 6).

  24. 24. Noble et al., “Rembrandt and/or Studio, Saul and Davidc.1655: visualising the curtain using cross-section analyses and X-ray fluorescence imaging,” in Technè 35, 36-45. XRF imaging of late Rembrandt paintings is being explored in a larger study as part of the Science4Arts project: ReVisRembrandt (a joint application of the Mauritshuis and Delft University of Technology, and several [inter]national partners), funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (www.nwo.nl/science4arts).

  25. 25. Jakob Rosenberg, “Lecture: Rembrandt the Draughtsman,” in Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years: A Symposium – Rembrandt and His Followers, 109.

  26. 26. De Vries, Tóth-Ubbens, and Froentjes, Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis, 160.

  27. 27. Henry Adams, “If Not Rembrandt, Then His cousin?,” Art Bulletin 66, no. 3 (1984): 427–41. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3050445

  28. 28. Christian Tümpel, Rembrandt (Antwerp: Mercatorfonds, 1986), 420.

  29. 29. Broos, Intimacies and Intrigues, 288.

  30. 30. Jonathan Bikker, Willem Drost (1633–1659): A Rembrandt Pupil in Amsterdam and Venice (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005), 128–31.

  31. 31. Ernst van de Wetering “‘Principaelen’ and Satellites: Pupils’ Production in Rembrandt’s Workshop,” in., Rembrandt? The Master and His Workshop, by Lene Bøgh Rønberg et al. (Copenhagen: Statens Museum for Kunst, 2006), 109n11, 122. See also Michiel Franken, “Learning by Imitation: Copying Paintings in Rembrandt’s Workshop,” in Rembrandt: Quest of a Genius, ed. Bob van den Boogert (Zwolle and Amsterdam: Waanders, 2006), 153–77; and Jaap van der Veen, “By His Own Hand: The Valuation of Autograph Paintings in the 17thCentury,” in Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings IV, 24, 30.

  32. 32. For various categories of workshop production, see Franken in Rembrandt: Quest of a Genius, 156. Also Van der Veen in Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings IV, 3–44.

  33. 33. Draft entry Br 526, generously shared by the author. A reproduction of the painting is included in the current exhibition of reproductions – Rembrandt: All His Paintings – on view at Magna Plaza, Amsterdam.

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DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2013.5.2.11
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Emilie E. S. Gordenker, Petria Noble, "Rembrandt’s Saul and David at the Mauritshuis: A Progress Report," Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 5:2 (Summer 2013) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2013.5.2.11