Rembrandt art of etching
History of Rembrandt's Copper Plates
About the Millennium Impressions
The market for Rembrandt etchings
Millennium Impression images
Biography of Rembrandt Van Rijn

Park West Links

Park West Website

Park West Blog

Customer Service Blog

Park West Foundation

Tour Park West

Learn About Park West Artists

View the Park West Collection

Park West Gallery
29469 Northwestern Hwy.
Southfield MI 48034

Customer Service:
(877) 440-0630

Provenance of the Plates | Types of Prints
History of Catalogers and Publishers

17th Century and Posthumous Impressions

Etchings made during the 17th century, the century during which Rembrandt lived may actually have been created during Rembrandt’s lifetime. However, perhaps with rare exception there is no provenance information which would insure that the impression was pulled while Rembrandt was alive. These rare early etchings are typically referred to by auction houses and Rembrandt dealers as 17th Century Impressions, and include a description of the state. For example, “17th Century Impression, Early First State” would indicate an etching that may have been created while Rembrandt was alive. You will sometimes see the term “Lifetime Impression” used by dealers and experts, who are able to determine the authenticity of this statement. These are considered extremely rare and are typically attributed to plates where only trial proofs exist and Rembrandt printed only very few.

17th Century Impressions are rare but can be found in museums around the world, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the British Museum of Art in London. They may also be found in private collections and appear on the international market at auction and in galleries that focus on high quality, rare "old master" prints. Park West has a substantial collection of 17th Century impressions, offering our clients the opportunity to collect these rare Rembrandt etchings. The Park West Collection of these etchings and later, posthumous examples has been built over many years and acquired through respected and established international auction houses including Sotheby's, Christies, Swann Galleries, Hauswedel & Nolte, Ketterer Kunst, Galerie Gerda Bassenge, and others.

Although early 17th Century Impressions may have been printed by Rembrandt himself, rather than assistants, with rare exceptions experts cannot always be certain of this. Since the whereabouts of Rembrandt's plates was initially unknown after his bankruptcy and death, it is possible that impressions were printed from the plates by others without his presence, or after he died, even perhaps using some of his own paper stock.

Posthumous Impressions

After Rembrandt’s death in 1669, a select number of publisher-printers upheld and continued the artist’s rich etching legacy. These later impressions—pulled from the original Rembrandt plates which survived—are known as "posthumous" impressions. Rembrandt’s posthumously printed etchings are also highly desirable by collectors and fetch significant prices.

The Millenium Impressions—published and printed from 1998 to 2008 from eight original plates that had been preserved at the turn of the 19th century—have offered collectors a more recent opportunity to acquire posthumously printed etchings from Rembrandt’s plates. The edition of these etchings was limited to 2500 examples. This is the only case of the printing of Rembrandt's etchings from existing plates, with a specified and limited number of impressions printed.

How Many Rembrandt Prints Exist?

A common question asked about Rembrandt’s etchings is, "How many were printed?" or "How many exist?" As many of Rembrandt's etchings were certainly lost over the centuries by floods, fires, wars or the general ravages of time upon delicate sheets of paper, no one can ever know how many were made and exist.

Rembrandt scholar and cataloger, G.W. Nowell Eusticke made an attempt to answer these questions. In his 1967 catalog raisonne he estimated the number still in the hands of collectors by observing the London auctions over a period of 20 years. He came up with the following "rating" system, which he employed in his catalog.

RRRR   3-25 prints Exceptionally rare and practically unobtainable 
RRR 30-50 prints Very rare
RR 50-75 prints Rare
R 75-125 prints Very uncommon
C1 125-225 prints Uncommon
C2 225-500 Most common

It is important to point out, however this was just his estimate, as the precise information is impossible to ascertain.

(Source: Nowell Eusticke; Rembrandt's etchings, States and Values, 1967)

The Demand for Rembrandt Etchings

The demand for Rembrandt etchings has increased in recent years; this includes both 17th Century impressions and posthumous impressions. The vast majority of Rembrandt etchings sold worldwide today are posthumous impressions.

All Rembrandt works fetch strong prices, typically selling at the very minimum for thousands of dollars, with many fetching tens of thousands of dollars or more. For example a 10th state etching of "The Raising of Lazarus,The Larger Plate (B. 73)" sold for $46,337 in November of 1996 at Galerie Gerda Bassenge. This impression was printed by Bernard or Beaumont between 1846-1906.

"Recueils" (collections assembled in albums) of posthumous Rembrandt impressions have also fetched significant prices at international auctions in recent years.

In June of 2005 an incomplete recueil of 75 (out of 78) posthumous Rembrandt etchings (including various other antique prints) sold for $238,603 at Christies, London. The previous year, June 2004, a recueil containing 78 posthumous Rembrandt etchings (and various other antique prints) sold for $238,279 also at Christies, London. Both of these recueils were "Bernard Impressions," which were printed between 1846 and 1906.

Provenance of the Plates
History of Catalogers and Publishers

For more information on the Park West Rembrandt collection: (800)-521-9654 xt. 4 or (248) 354-2343.