Two Thatched Cottages with Figures at a Window
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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Dutch, Amsterdam, about 1640
Pen and brown ink, corrected with white bodycolor
5 1/4 x 7 15/16 in.

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Around 1640, Rembrandt van Rijn made five drawings, similar in setting and technique, of these two thatched cottages. Unlike most of his landscapes, this drawing almost entirely eschews atmospheric effects in favor of building up monumental architectural and textural forms with bold strokes of the quill pen. The larger house's monumentality and detail contrasts with the cursory jottings that compose the neighboring house and the few squiggly lines that indicate the earth.

As always, Rembrandt drew only what was essential. His animated line moved vigorously across the sheet, creating rich and varied effects of texture and surface. At this point in his career, Rembrandt delighted in exploring the visual impact of varied, dense lines, as seen in the moss growing in the thatched roof of the nearest house. Rembrandt's bold quill pen work here brings to mind the work of Vincent van Gogh two-and-a-half centuries later.