About this artwork
In the 17th century, seashells became popular collectible objects because they were considered rare and exotic. They also became common subjects for still-life paintings known as Vanitas, which symbolically represent the transience of life. The etchings of both Wenceslaus Hollar and Rembrandt van Rijn could represent the simultaneous beauty and fragility of existence. While still lifes in general are exceedingly rare in Rembrandt’s work, Hollar’s etching (1996.609) comes from a series of seashells, consisting of 38 plates. Rembrandt’s shell could have been inspired by Hollar’s work, though Rembrandt’s decision to render the shell in a three-dimensional space represents a marked difference between the two etchings.
Currently Off View
- Prints and Drawings
- Rembrandt van Rijn
- The Shell
- Etching on ivory laid paper
- Recto, in plate, lower left "Rembrandt. f. 1650"; verso, lower right, in red ink, stamp "A.R."; lower right, in blue ink, stamp "C.B."; lower left, in blue ink, stamp "Dethomas"
- 97 × 132 mm (plate); 99 × 134 mm (sheet)
- Clarence Buckingham Collection