Cottage with White Paling among Trees, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Drawing in quill and reed pen in brown ink with brown wash and touches of opaque white and gray wash; roughly 7 x 10 inches (17 x 25 cm); in the collection of the Rijksmuseum. Image is zoomable on their page, you can also download it with the creation of a free “Rijksstudio” account.
The Rijksmuseum describes the gray wash as being added later, along with the framing line. I suspect the opaque white may have been added by a later hand as well, all in an effort to make the drawing more of a salable piece somewhere along the way, but the nature of the original shines through.
I just love Rembrandt’s landscape drawings, and my impression of them has always been that he drew them for his own pleasure, and not as presentation pieces.
Look at the beautiful way his seemingly casual lines indicating the foliage not only give the masses shape and texture, but a sense of motion as well, as if being stirred by wind across the landscape.
The little details like the hay wagon and the man sitting at the edge of the water give the drawing additional life and a sense of place.
The slats of the fence (the “white paling” of the title assigned to the drawing) are a visual treat, their thickly delineated rough edges contrasted by thinner strokes suggesting the wood’s weathered texture. The fence slats, along with some of the shapes of the foliage behind it, are beautifully set off by the tone applied to the cottage and the darker foliage.
Look at the quick indications of flowers in front of the fence — this isn’t just a building, it’s someone’s home.
The reflections in the pond-like depression in front of the fence and the soft indication of the larger body of water and shore and buildings beyond are marvels of suggestion.
I don’t know anyone, with the possible exception of Shakespeare, who can say so much in so few lines.