This contribution publishes a drawing in the Albertina that shows a skilful copy of Rembrandt’s etched portrait of Jan Six. The drawing’s early context of preservation can be reconstructed on the basis of archival material:
It once formed part of the Rembrandt oeuvre which Jean Mariette and his son Pierre Jean assembled in 1717–18 for Prince Eugene of Savoy. There the drawing was openly declared to function as a substitute for the etching which – because of its great rarity – could not be supplied at the time. The drawing and the related documents thus shed light on the early eighteenth century market for Rembrandt prints, in particular the sometimes frenzied search for the coveted portrait of Jan Six. The presence of this drawing in the Albertina today and an analysis of the extant final draft of the Mariettes’ catalogue for Prince Eugene also show that the interpretation of a document first published in 1969 needs to be revised. Contrary to the conclusion proposed then and in subsequent articles, Eugene’s Rembrandt oeuvre had not been acquired for the Dresden print cabinet in 1743 but entered the imperial library in Vienna in 1738.
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