The Shell

A work made of etching on ivory laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of etching on ivory laid paper.

Date:

1650

Artist:

Rembrandt van Rijn
Dutch, 1606-1669

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.

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Prints and Drawings

Artist

Rembrandt van Rijn

Title

The Shell

Origin

Holland

Date

1650

Medium

Etching on ivory laid paper

Dimensions

97 × 132 mm (plate); 99 × 134 mm (sheet)

Credit Line

Clarence Buckingham Collection

Reference Number

1938.1805

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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