The Card Player by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

  • This remarkable etching is the work of the great Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
  • The work displays the artistry and atmosphere for which Rembrandt's prints are known
  • Entitled The Card Player, it is one of the most beloved of all of the artist's etchings
  • Other versions of this etching can be found in museum collections around the world
  • Get complete item description here
Price available upon request Item No. 31-2403

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Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
1606-1669 | Dutch

The Card Player

Etching and drypoint on laid paper
A very early third state
Signed and dated "Rembrandt f. 1641" (middle left); signed "Watelet" (lower left)

Among the very best of the Old Masters stands the revered Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn, arguably the greatest etcher in the history of art. Certainly the most important Dutch etcher of all time, his oeuvre boasts close to 300 authenticated prints, and his innovative techniques in the medium are without precedent. This remarkable etching, entitled The Card Player, displays the artistry and atmosphere for which Rembrandt's prints are renowned.

Though perhaps best known today for his paintings, Rembrandt was celebrated throughout his lifetime as a master printmaker. Emerging in the region in the early 16th century, printmaking experienced increased popularity during Rembrandt’s lifetime, when an affluent new merchant class with money to spare for artworks flourished. Among the many printmakers of the era, Rembrandt stood out as he exploited the medium to its fullest. He often utilizing techniques from his paintings, such as chiaroscuro, and successfully translated it to copper plate. His fluid lines, delicate cross-hatching and subtle tonalities allowed Rembrandt to achieve the sense of atmosphere that set apart his works.

These qualities are all present in this charming scene of a card player. It is among the most beloved of his etchings, capturing a shifty-eyed gambler – likely modeled by one of his students – as he considers his cards. Rembrandt creates a dramatic chiaroscuro effect thanks to the cross-hatching in the background, a detail which was not included in his first state but added by his hand in the second.

The present etching is the third of five states and was printed by Claude-Henri Watelet (1718-1786), an important figure in the pre-revolutionary French art world who was both a collector and a highly competent engraver. In 1767, he acquired 43 of Rembrandt's original etching plates, adding approximately 40 more in the years that follow so that he possessed a majority of the collection. Today he is regarded as a highly important figure in the history of Rembrandt's art.

Versions of this etching can also be found in the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), the Museum of New Zealand and the Morgan Library and Museum (New York).

Conceived in 1641; printed circa 1760

Etching: 3 1/4" high x 3 7/8" wide
Frame: 16 1/2" high x 14 1/2" wide
The Card Player by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Maker: Rembrandt
Period: Pre-18th Century
Origin: Netherlands
Type: Other Fine Art
Style: Old Masters

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