Petrus Joh. Arendzen (1846 - 1932)

“The Visitation”

 (Mary meeting Elisabeth - Luke 11:39-42) 

Painting in the collections of Detroit Institute of Art.       

Petrus Johannes Arendzen was acknowledged as one of the finest Dutch etchers in his life time. He is known to have engraved many copies after Dutch Old Masters (Rembrandt, van Dijk, van Ostade), many portraits of famous people and royals but also after paintings by contemporary Dutch and after his immigration to London British landscape and portrait painters. Collections of his etchings were published by Carel Vosmaer (1826-1888) during his life time. His copy of “The Visitation” was used in 1905 in a book by Dutch  Rembrandt (and Old Master) expert Cornelis Hofstede de Groot (1863-1930): “Masterpieces of Dutch Art in English collections”. Only few (2) copies of the actual etching could be traced. 

A fresh short-biography of Petrus Arendzen can be found in the accompanying these collections Book of Biographies.  

In December 2023 Arendzen’s original etching plate of “The Visitation” was found among a bundle of discarded prints. Arendzen had moved from Amsterdam to London in 1887. Since a copy the etching was used in Hofstede de Groot’s publication treating Dutch art in British collections in 1905 its creation can be dated roughly between 1887 and 1904.   

Rembrandt painting was inspired by Aelbrecht Dürer’s 1503 woodblock print rendering of the same meeting. Besides a study by Rembrandt’s hand another etching by Scottish engraver John Burnett (1784-1868) created in 1813 is known. It was obviously created when the painting arrived from France in the British Grosvenor collection. 

Rembrandt followed most compositional ideas by Dürer placing the scene in Hebron but adding the black woman or girl servant, a feature discussed and researched. In 1640 Rembrandt’s mother died (he probably used her portrait for Maria) and his wife Saskia gave birth to his daughter Cornelia(she died 3 weeks later). Just to give an idea of the deeper layers in this intensively studied and researched master piece.        

In 1927 the Detroit Institute of Arts acquired the painting. 

It has been for almost a century considered among its  finest possessions.

Celebrating the Museum’s prised new acquisition and arrival in an article  written by the Museums director (1924-45) and art historian William Reinhold Valentiner (1880-1958) in 1927: 'The Visitation by Rembrandt’ appeared in: Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts (May 1927), p. 86-91:

Valentiner was well acquainted with all the world’s known Rembrandt experts and fellow museum directors and curators: Dutch experts Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, Abraham Bredius, Wilhelm von Bode in Berlin etc.. 

Before the painting was sold to Detroit it had been from 1813 in several British famous art collections: de Rothschild, Grosvenor, Carnarvon and Colnaghi.  Before it came to England it had been in the Paris collection of rich French instrument builder, inventor of the “Hammerklavier” and the father of the modern piano, chevalier (knight) Sébastien Érard (1752-1831). Before Érard it has been in the collections of the King of Sardinia and in the House of Savoy. Its first owner probably was the rich merchant, art collector and  lord-mayor of Goes in province Zeeland Hieronymus van der Straten (d. 1664). 

Provenance of Rembrandt’s (1606-1669) painting the Visitation painted in 1640.

    1927    Detroit Institute of Arts, DETROIT (MICHIGAN).

    1927    Art dealers  M. Knoedler & Co. LONDEN, NEW YORK CITY, PARIJS.

    1924    Art dealers Colnaghi, LONDEN,, NEW YORK.

    1924    Private collection:  Almina Herbert Countess of Carnarvon, LONDEN.

                Private collection: Alfred Charles baron de Rothschild (1842-1918) HALTON (BUCKINGHAMSHIRE) LONDEN.                 

                Private collection: Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor (2nd Duke of Westminster), GROSVENOR HOUSE (LONDEN).

    1813    Private collection: Robert Earl of Grosvenor (1st Marquess of Westminster), GROSVENOR HOUSE (LONDEN).

    1812    Private collection: chevalier Sébastien Érard, CHÂTEAU DE LA MUETTE (PARIJS).

    1808    Art dealers R. Lerondelle, PARIJS

    1802    Private collection: Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia, Turin

    1741   Private collection: Countess Maria Anna Victoria of Savoy-Carignano-Soissons (1683-1763), Turin. 

    1741     Private collection: Prinz Eugen von Savoyen, Turin, Vienna. 

        ?       Private collection of Hieronymus van der Straten, mayor of GOES in Province Zealand (died 1664)

Framed original etching copperplate as found  and some details showing the craftsmanship of the etcher