Two Rembrandt Etchings, ca. 1630

Value (2008) | $50,000 Auction$75,000 Auction

GUEST:
My father and I used to go to the Art Walk on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, and he collected many pieces of art, and he preferred the prints, and these were two that he had given to me.

APPRAISER:
And when was he buying?

GUEST:
Mid-to-late '50s.

APPRAISER:
They're both Rembrandt etchings, first of all. I think you knew that.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Closest to you is, the subject is Christ at Emmaus. And it's an etching that Rembrandt made in 1634, and in the lower part of the image you can see the artist's signature, as well as the date, and next to the date is an ink stamp, which is a collector's stamp. That's from a collector who owned the print in the late 19th century. And they would often put their stamps on the prints as identification. Now, closest to me is a self-portrait of Rembrandt, open mouthed and staring. And you can see in the lower part of the etching Rembrandt's initials in the plate. The etching is also dated just 3-0, for 1630, but it's very, very faint. And I think if there's any doubt that Rembrandt was a master at his game, it's dispelled by a print like this, a self-portrait he made in 1630. He was born in 1606, so he was 24 years old when he made this self-portrait. It's showing him sort of astonished. It's theatrical. And this is something that Rembrandt did again and again. It's not that he was conceited and he wanted to, you know, get his image out there as much as possible. He was interested in picturing emotions and moods, and that's exactly what's going on in this self-portrait. Now, the print closest to you of Christ at Emmaus is an early printing. It's the first state of three. Every time a change is made to the plate from which the etching is made, that denotes a further state. It's a particularly fine impression. All of the lines are there, and you can see in the image that Rembrandt really did not waste a single line. The print next to me, the self-portrait, is extremely scarce. This is a print that comes up to auction maybe once every five years. Self-portraits of Rembrandt are hotly collected. There is, you see on the print, some spotting, some damage. Because of its scarcity, that doesn't affect the value so much. You've had these how many years?

GUEST:
Ooh... 20 years.

APPRAISER:
And have you ever had them appraised or do you have any idea what their value might be?

GUEST:
At one point, this one was appraised, and I believe it was like around $1,000.

APPRAISER:
And the self-portrait?

GUEST:
Never has been. No. Has never been appraised.

APPRAISER:
If your father was buying these in the '50s, I would guess that he spent in the hundreds maybe. The print closest to you, the Christ at Emmaus, at auction, in that condition, superb impression as it is, would conservatively bring $10,000 to $15,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
Now...

GUEST:
I had no idea.

APPRAISER:
Proving the adage that big things sometimes come in small packages is the one closest to me. It's a postage-stamp-size etching. At auction, in this condition, I would estimate it at $40,000 to $60,000.

GUEST:
No way.

APPRAISER:
Absolutely.

GUEST:
Absolutely no way.

APPRAISER:
And that's conservative.

GUEST:
Really? I had absolutely no idea.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Appraised value (2008)
$50,000 Auction$75,000 Auction
Event
Palm Springs, CA (June 07, 2008)
Period
17th Century
Material
Paper

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