A travelling medicine vendor. Etching by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1635.
- Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, 1606-1669.
About this work
Adam Bartsch (1757-1821), the great expert on prints at the Imperial Court in Vienna, described this etching by Rembrandt as follows: "A tiny piece, engraved with energy and lightness of touch. Its subject is a medicine vendor, directed towards the right of the print. He holds a basket in front of him, from which he has pulled a packet of drugs that he shows with his left hand. His right hand is placed on his hip, and below hang a shoulder-bag and a sabre. His knees are slightly bent." Since Bartsch was closer to Rembrandt in time than we are, it seems worthwhile to accept his identification of the subject as a man holding up a piece of paper in which a medicinal powder, or perhaps a solid medicine compacted like toffee, is wrapped for sale to passers-by. Rembrandt lived in Amsterdam, having moved there from Leiden only three years previously, so the man portrayed probably sold medicines on the streets of Amsterdam. After a long period standing up and trying to engage the public, no wonder he wearily bends his knees. Bartsch calls him "un charlatan", which means someone who speaks out loud the virtues of his wares: Rembrandt depicts him open-mouthed in order to record the impression of the sound as well as the actual sight of this outlandish character
Rembrandt fe. 1635.
1 print : etching ; image 7.1 x 3.6 cm