"This is the only state which is known of
this Rembrandt etching. It must have a hidden message, for it is neither a
biblical account nor a is it a registration of a normal landscape, both of which
there are many examples in his work. First of all, it is assumed that he drew
this scene on a plate which had been used by Hercules Seghers, a contemporary of
Rembrandt; and he did not remove all of the original drawing. It seems to me
that this was not on account of his incapability to remove or successfully
camouflage the original drawing. Art historians claim that they cannot perceive
any previous renderings. But I can distinctly discern parts of human shapes in
the sky, especially in the lower left hand corner.
Rembrandt - three trees (view from Haarlem to Amsterdam) - drypoint etching - 1643
The rain seems to foretell a less pleasant repose in this seemingly peaceful landscape - it is coming from the west, which is to the left when looking from Haarlem to Amsterdam. The West is where the rain comes from in Holland. That is not where it is going because the people, portrayed in their activities, would not have been there anymore. Aside from the fishing man and the woman, on the lower left and the lovers in the dark thicket on the right edge of the pond, the three trees are the most obvious element of the work. They pose as a safe haven for the approaching storm. But what if it is a thunderstorm?"
Lucien den Arend
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