Rembrandt Etching & Reproductions
Appraised Value: $4,150 - $6,150
IMAGE: 1 of 5
Appraisal Video: (4:33)
Prints & Posters
Director, Works of Art on Paper
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: I grew up going to garage sales and flea markets with my mother. And I have quite a collection of American art pottery.
APPRAISER: So did you feel out of your field collecting something like this?
GUEST: Yes. I don't know much about these etchings at all.
APPRAISER: Well, what if I were to tell you that one of these is actually original, but three of them are reproductions? Would you be able to tell me which one you think is the original?
GUEST: Well, I'm shocked that one of them is original because I really thought they were all reproductions.
GUEST: I know they, today, make prints off of the copper plates that Rembrandt used,
GUEST: which would be a reproduction. And would I be able to tell you which one is original? I would have to go with the oldest one that was bought 30 years ago, and that would be the one closest to you.
APPRAISER: Well, why don't we start with the one closest to you and you can tell me how they were acquired.
GUEST: The one that's closest to me I purchased at an Illinois flea market. And it was less than $100.
GUEST: And that was the second one that I acquired. The one in the middle, the lady, was also a flea market find. That was the third one that I purchased, that was probably about four years ago. The closest to you was bought at an estate sale 30 years ago and it was ten dollars. And the one in the middle is the most recent one, I bought that within the last year and a half at an online auction.
APPRAISER: Okay, let's start with the one closest to you, the landscape. Let me first tell you, that's a reproduction.
APPRAISER: It's very easy for me to tell that 'cause if you look at it, there's no plate mark, the image is completely flat, the ink that should sit on the surface of the paper, does not. It's just completely photographic in the process.
APPRAISER: The largest one right here in the center is also a reproduction.
GUEST: I figured.
APPRAISER: It has a plate mark on it, the impression that a plate would make on the paper...
APPRAISER: That's actually a forged plate mark.
APPRAISER: Everything else about the print is incorrect--the lines are blurred, it just looks photographic.
GUEST: I thought this was probably about 30 years old.
GUEST: Maybe from the 1960s.
APPRAISER: The paper is just way too light.
APPRAISER: And it also is... a tip to people buying online, the best thing to do is really see the thing in person.
GUEST: I-I agree. I mean, I knew it when I bought it. I paid less than 75 bucks for it.
APPRAISER: This print in the center, the portrait of the woman, is also a reproduction. It's tougher to see here, but there is also no plate mark. It's completely flat. If you were to lift the mat up... and you can feel the paper, there's nothing wrong with doing that. There's no impression at all in the paper.
APPRAISER: So I've saved the best for last.
GUEST: The one I thought.
APPRAISER: The one closest to me, the one that you were thinking is the original. And you can tell that A: the paper that it's on…
APPRAISER: The ink sits on the surface of the paper. There is a plate mark. Line for line, I know that it matches up with other
original etchings. The subject, it's “The Circumcision.”
GUEST: Oh, yes.
APPRAISER: It's a print that Rembrandt created later in his career in the 1650s.
APPRAISER: You said something earlier about etchings printed after Rembrandt's death.
APPRAISER: That's true, and those are still original Rembrandt etchings. They're not reproductions.
GUEST: Oh... Okay.
APPRAISER: As long as they're being printed from the plates that he created,
APPRAISER: they are still considered original Rembrandt etchings.
GUEST: I see.
APPRAISER: Now with this I can tell that it's a later printing. Around the late 1700s, his plates were acquired by a Parisian publisher and they were issued in volumes. And this is one of those impressions. The paper that it's on is very clearly from the late 1700s.
APPRAISER: And then if you turn the print around and look at the back of the paper, these impressions were all pasted into volumes. And you can see the glue remains here at the four corners.
APPRAISER: 1790s through the early 1800s is when this was issued.
APPRAISER: So now for the fun part, the value. Reproductions generally are decorative things. So the three closest to you
APPRAISER: may be about $50 apiece. It's the price that somebody would pay to...
GUEST: Hang something on your wall.
APPRAISER: Hang something on their wall.
GUEST: Right. That's kind of what I thought.
APPRAISER: So maybe about $150 in there.
APPRAISER: Now for the good one. At auction, later impressions like this from the late 1700s through the early 1800s, bring about $4,000 to $6,000 at auction.
GUEST: Okay. Very nice.
APPRAISER: So... An early impression from his lifetime would bring around $20,000 to $30,000.
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