Clement de Jonghe, Printseller

Clement de Jonghe, Printseller
Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669)
Etching, drypoint and burin, State V 
plate: 8-3/16 x 6-3/8 in. (20.8 x 16.2 cm); sheet: 8-3/16 x 6-3/8 in. (20.8 x 16.2 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

Clement de Jonghe (1634/5–77), a successful Amsterdam print seller, art dealer and publisher, was also an avid collector. De Jonghe owned a large number of Rembrandt’s copper plates, and in later years, made new impressions of them for sale.

Here, still wearing his hat and gloves, de Jonghe appears to have just sat down, if only momentarily so. His frontal, three-quarter, squared silhouette is described in the first state with an open, loose network of etched lines and minimal shading around his face. In subsequent states, six in all, Rembrandt attended to details of tone and shading, using drypoint and burin rather than overall compositional changes. These effects bring added depth and dimension to the sitter’s hat, his collar and particularly the area around his eyes. In the fifth state, Rembrandt burnished a triangular section of the chair back and made further tonal adjustments to de Jonghe’s face and hat.

How could such an informal portrait, lacking information about the sitter’s identity and status, have appealed to de Jonghe or other art collectors in his circle? Clearly Rembrandt directed his efforts to aesthetic challenges—demonstrating his skill and innovation as an etcher by differentiating between states, as opposed to delivering a straight-forward description of the sitter. Perhaps it was precisely this display of Rembrandt’s talents as an etcher that appealed to de Jonghe and other art lovers.

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