Johannes Wtenbogaert, preacher of the Remonstrants., result 1 of 1
During his lifetime, Rembrandt's extraordinary skills as a printmaker were the main source of his international fame. Unlike his oil paintings, prints travelled light and were relatively cheap. For this reason, they soon became very popular with collectors not only within, but also beyond the borders of the Netherlands, and it also explains why, in later centuries, they were affordable to collectors like Bishop Ditlev Monrad and Sir John Ilott.
In this etching, Rembrandt portrays an important political and theological figure of the period, Johannes Wtenbogaert (traditionally Jan Uytenbogaert) (1557-1644), a leader of the Dutch Remonstrants and a former chaplain to Maurice, Prince of Orange. Following the views of Jacobus Arminius, the Remonstrants presented to the States-General in 1610 a 'Remonstrance',' setting forth their points of divergence from stricter Calvinism. Attacked on all sides, they were expelled from the Netherlands by the Protestant Synod of Dort (1618-19), which declared Remonstrant theology contrary to Scripture. Allowed back in the Netherlands by 1630, they were officially recognised in 1798. The movement is still strong, and its liberal school of theology has impacted powerfully on the Dutch state church and on other Christian denominations.
Rembrandt's etching dates from the mid-1630s when he was at the height of his fame and fashionability and had relatively recently moved from Leiden to Amsterdam. Two years previously, he had painted Wtenbogaert, and the portrait survives in the Rijksmuseum. Although the angle of the head, ruff and skull-cap (calotte) are similar, there are important changes in the introduction of a fur-trimmed robe (known as a tabard) and background drapery in the etching. Wtenbogaert is every inch the dignified, sagacious, elderly scholar and theologian.
The inscription, in Latin, is far more extensive than in Rembrandt's other prints, and was composed by the leading Remonstrant Hugo de Groot. It alludes to Wtenbogaert's piety and court service, as well as his 'comeback' to the Hague in 1629.
This impression is from the seventh state of the etching, and dates from the 18th century, but prior to the final reworking of the plate in the Parisian workshop of Henri Louis Basan (c. 1797-1809). Our collection also has a superior, fifth state impression (1955-0012-13).
Reference: New Hollstein Dutch 153, 7th of 9 states; Hollstein Dutch, undescribed state.
Minneapolis Institute of Art, https://collections.artsmia.org/art/108013/jan-uytenbogaert-preacher-of-the-remonstrants-rembrandt-harmensz-van-rijn
Dr Mark Stocker Curator, Historical International Art August 2017
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