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Raising of Lazarus: Large Plate (B.73)

Raising of Lazarus Large Plate

  • Etching, engraving and drypoint on thick laid paper evenly trimmed around the image border. Signed RHL v. Rijn f. in the rock to the right of Christ (midway up the length of his garment). Proprietary double-wired I. Villedary watermark (Ash and Fletcher Chapter 38, A.b. variant, pg. 215).
  • In Ash and Fletchers commentary, "The French papermaker I. Villedary began to use his full name as a watermark in 1698.
  • Biorklund Barnard's ninth state of nine, White and Boon's tenth state of ten, and Nowell Eusticke's eighth state of ten, after the addition of the nine open vertical lines are added at the top of the back of the crouching woman at right, but before the addition of the long scratches, particularly the one below Lazarus's chin.
  • According to Nowell Eusticke, an intermediate eighth state impression as issued by  P.F. Basan (1785-1797)) showing wear or the burnishing of the shading above the group at right, the shading on the back of Christ's cloak and the back of the man lower left still strong, and the addition of the crosshatching on the palm of the outstretched man's hand and the two faces below.
  • Biorklund Barnard and Nowell Eusticke both concur that it was during the fifth state where the f. was added to the signature.
  • In this, one of Rembrandt's most astonishing and powerful works, he captures the dramatic scene as Jesus commands Lazarus to "come forth" against the dark tomb wall. As Lazarus rises from the dead, Mary and Martha lean in over the edge of the tomb, their praised hands signifying their faith and readiness to embrace their beloved brother. The faces of the onlookers express open-mouthed amazement at Jesus' miracle. Rembrandt uses powerful contrasts in this work to evoke a heightened drama by distinct use of light and shadow. Lazarus and the faces of the onlookers are bathed in the light of Christ, while the surrounding darkness symbolizes the blackness of death.
  • Rembrandt experimented greatly and labored over this work intensely to reach his finished image. It is a perfect example of the Baroque use of chiaroscuro, the strong contrast of light and shadow, to evoke a theatrical and highly emotional image and with the emphasis being on balance through the harmony of parts in subordination of the whole. These qualities of vigorous movement and emotional intensity are the primary constituents of Baroque art.  It was extremely well received by his contemporary collectors, and remains one of the most sought-after etchings of Rembrandt's oeuvre, to this day.
  • This is an illustration from the New Testament, John 11: 1-44
  • According to Schwartz, the signature in the rock to the right of Christ, RHL van Ryn f. is the only occurrence of this form of signature; which would read fully: Rembrandus Hermanni Leidensis van Rijn fecit.
  • At the age of twenty-six, the Raising of Lazarus was the first large plate format that Rembrandt pursued in a career historians would recognize as that of the greatest etcher to ever live.  His attention to detail and technique was only reinforced by sending the plate through four trial proofs before he considered printing a first state.

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