Rembrandt van Rijn
The Virgin and Child with Cat and Snake
Northern Europe, Dutch
3 3/4 in. x 5 11/16 in. (9.53 cm x 14.45 cm)
Medium and Support:
Etching on laid paper
Gift of Jean K. Weil in memory of Adolph "Bucks" Weil, Jr.
During the 1650s, Rembrandt executed a series of six etchings illustrating Christ’s childhood. Like the others in this series, this print is rectangular in format and representative of the artist’s classical style. The wildly scribbled lines of earlier etchings have become more restrained, though still sketchy. The compositions are often balanced and carefully structured, reminiscent in their harmony and stability of the paintings of the Italian Renaissance. In this work, Rembrandt has evoked a feeling of calm and balance through the use of horizontal and vertical lines that depict the architectural setting. The peaceful composition is given human expression in the tender gestures of the figures. While Joseph peers through the window, the Virgin completely surrounds the Child in a protective embrace, gently pressing her face to his.
See "Rembrandt: Beyond the Brush; Master Prints from the Weil Collection," exh. cat. (Montgomery: Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 1999), 88.