Jan Lutma, the Elder, Goldsmith and Sculptor

Jan Lutma, the Elder, Goldsmith and Sculptor
Artist:
Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669)
Date:
1656  
Medium:
Etching, State I 
Dimensions:
7-5/8 x 5-5/8 in. (19.4 x 14.3 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Museum, Museum purchase with funds donated by Mrs. Edward C. Crossett 
Accession Number:
P.1961.36 
Copyright:
© Norton Simon Museum 
Not on View
Description

Surrounded by the tools of his trade, the esteemed silversmith Jan Lutma (c. 1584–1669) is presented with a sensitive and reverential intimacy. The elderly artisan is posed in a leather-backed armchair decorated with carved lions’ heads finials, and his right hand holds a candlestick—one of his creations. On the table beside him are various tools, including a hammer and a pot containing punches. The silver drinking bowl immediately behind the pot of punches is identifiable as one of his works. Lutma received important official commissions during his lifetime but is best known for the tulip beaker he created in 1652 for Nicolaas Tulp, whose anatomy lesson Rembrandt had painted in 1632. This etching may have been commissioned by Lutma’s son Jan, also a silversmith and printmaker.

In this beautiful etching, Rembrandt has added drypoint over an already dense web of finely etched lines. By altering the direction and strength of the lines, he has created subtle distinctions between the various layers of Lutma’s clothing and between the figure and the chair. A warm, diffuse light illuminates Lutma’s face and hands, providing a sense of space around his chair. In later years, the silversmith’s eyesight deteriorated, and it is possible that his unfocused look in this etching is linked to this affliction.

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