Jan Uytenbogaert, 'The Goldweigher'

Jan Uytenbogaert, 'The Goldweigher'
Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669)
Etching, drypoint; State II 
plate: 9-3/8 x 7-15/16 in. (23.8 x 20.2 cm); sheet: 10 1/16 x 8 1/8 in. (25.6 x 20.6 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
On View

Jan Uytenbogaert (1608–1680) was Holland’s Receiver-General, or chief tax collector. Rembrandt may have met him in Leiden in the early 1630s, when Uytenbogaert was studying law and Rembrandt was studying painting. In Amsterdam, they both enjoyed collecting prints.

Rembrandt may have etched this print as a token of gratitude to Uytenbogaert for his intervention on the artist’s behalf. In 1639, the year of this print, Rembrandt sought to purchase a house in Amsterdam but lacked the necessary down payment, as he was still waiting to receive compensation for the paintings he had completed for Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange. Uytenbogaert’s overture on the artist’s behalf was successful, and Rembrandt’s purchase of the house followed soon after.

In this portrait, the artist depicts Uytenbogaert exercising his professional duties. He sits at a carpet-covered table topped with gold-weighing scales and bags of gold, and records payments in a ledger. A kneeling servant accepts one of the bags. To the left, a couple carrying bags of gold are about to enter. Light and dark passages animate the space, with drypoint used to describe the velvety character of his fur coat and hat. One wonders if Rembrandt consulted with Uytenbogaert before composing this conceptually and technically ambitious etching. The profusion of anecdotal detail recalls Northern graphic traditions of a century earlier, reflecting the collecting tastes of both men.

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