Christ healing the Sick: 'The Hundred Guilder Print'
etching with drypoint and engraving, circa1648, on warm ivory silk, a fine and rich impression of New Hollstein's third state (of four), with Captain Baillie's re-work, printing with strong contrasts, with the silk support adding a luminous quality to the image
Plate 283 x 397 mm.
Sheet 328 x 448 mm.
Bartsch, Hollstein 74; Hind 124; New Hollstein 239
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Lot Essay

...'also here is the rarest print published by Rembrandt, in which Christ is healing the sick, and I know that in Holland [it] has been sold various times for 100 guilders and more; and it is as large as this sheet of paper, very fine and lovely, but ought to cost 30 guilders. It is very beautiful and pure.'

So states Jan Meyssens of Antwerp to Carolus van den Bosch, Bishop of Bruges, in a letter dated 9 February 1654. This extract provides the clue as to how this print gained its famous sobriquet: the print was so desirable that only a few years after its creation it was exchanging hands for the exceptionally high price of 100 guilders.

Christ healing the Sickwas a significant turning point in Rembrandt's development as an etcher; it is his first major work in which light and shadow were used to obtain such expressive power. By depicting four separate strands of the narrative of Matthew 19 in one composition, Rembrandt was embarking on the ambitious task of uniting all elements harmoniously. The image is almost at the risk of falling into two discrete halves: the left sketchy and bright, the right densely worked and dark. Yet through careful composition and the introduction of a halftone, Rembrandt managed to balance the image and created a continuous tableau, with Christ as the focal point of this highly complex composition. It is his most 'painterly', most ambitious and possibly most sought-after print.

The present impression was printed by Captain William Baillie (circa1724-1810), who in 1775 acquired the heavily worn plate and, being an engraver himself, skilfully reworked it before printing a limited run of one hundred impressions, before cutting the plate into three pieces from which he printed separate images. The quality of Baillie's impressions is remarkable and his reworking of the 'Hundred Guilder Print'is one of the rare cases of a successful restoration of a printing plate.

Of the limited edition of one hundred impressions from the complete plate, Baillie used a variety of supports. There was a distinct price difference, with the most expensive impressions printed on silk or Japan paper at a cost of 5 guineas (£5-5), almost double the price of the impressions on French paper at £2-12. As the impressions printed on this support were so costly it is clear that few were made. Indeed New Hollstein records only two impressions of this state printed on silk (Baltimore Museum of Art; Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar). To our knowledge only two other impressions on silk have been offered at auction in the last thirty years, including the most recent one, sold at Christie's in New York on 29 January 2019 (lot 147, $25.000).
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