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Abraham Francen, Apothecary

Abraham Francen, Apothecary, c.1657

Rembrandt van Rijn
Dutch, 1606-1669
Etching, drypoint and burin
plate: 6-1/4 x 8-3/16 in. (15.9 x 20.8 cm); sheet: 6-5/8 x 8-5/16 in. (16.8 x 21.1 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on View

Abraham Francen (1612–after 1678) was an apothecary with a passion for collecting prints and other objects of art. Francen was a good friend to the artist, assisting him during financial crises and, after Rembrandt’s death, accepting guardianship of Cornelia, the artist’s daughter with his second wife, Hendrickje Stoffels. Given their close relationship, this print may be seen as an expression of friendship and gratitude.

The format of this oblong portrait etching is ideal for depicting the variety of objects that were dear to the collector. The subject sits near an open window that illuminates his studio and the print he is presently examining; other collectibles are visible, including paintings on either side of a triptych depicting the Crucifixion, a Taoist sculpture of a seated deity and a skull. An open album on the carpet-covered table contains additional prints. Though his friend is portrayed informally, absorbed in a connoisseur’s reverie, Rembrandt has taken care to use rich chiaroscuro effects and toning to convey details of the room, the frames around the paintings and Francen’s attire.

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