About This Artwork

Rembrandt van Rijn
Dutch, 1606-1669

The Monk in the Cornfield, c. 1646

Etching with drypoint on ivory laid paper
47 x 66 mm (image/plate);51 x 69 mm (sheet)

Clarence Buckingham Collection; Amanda S. Johnson and Marion Livingston Endowment, 2001.119

Rembrandt was never shy about showing naked bodies or erotic subjects in a realistic way. In the 1640s he created several scenes of courting couples outdoors, and The Monk in the Cornfield is one of the most sexually charged of these prints. Despite the print’s tiny size, the graphic depiction of an unchaste monk and an enthusiastic milkmaid coupling surreptitiously makes for a powerful sculptural grouping. The etched suggestion of a farmer with a scythe in the background reinforces the temporary nature of their haven in the wheat field and emphasizes the voyeurism of the viewer.

Interpretive Resources

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