REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
(b. 1606, Leiden, d. 1669, Amsterdam)

Lieven Willemsz van Coppenol

c. 1657
Oil on wood, 37 x 29 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Catalogue number: Bredius 291.

This panel is most probably Rembrandt's oil sketch made in preparation for his etching known as the "Large Coppenol" of 1658 (and not a copy of it as some scholars assumed). In the etching the composition is reversed, placing the pen in the calligraphers's right hand.

Lieven Willemsz van Coppenol (c. 1599-1671) was a well-known calligrapher. His family originates from the Spanish Netherlands from where his grandparents fled and settled in Haarlem about 1579. Van Coppenol appears to have taken part in the development of calligraphy at every level, from schoolboy competitions to publishing, teaching, corresponding with peers, and finally striving, obsessively, to be recognized as the greatest calligrapher. He was far from achieving that distinction, although he had considerable skill.

The authorship of this painting is questioned by critics, attributing it to a follower of Rembrandt.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.