barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Harmenszoon van Rijn Rembrandt (1606-1669)

The Death of the Virgin

Amsterdam, 1639

Etching with drypoint

10.4 x 9.5 cm


This is one of the earliest plates in which Rembrandt used drypoint to any considerable extent. 

The etching by the great master of the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ shows the death of Christ’s mother, the Virgin Mary. From the far corners of the earth, Christ’s followers (the Apostles) miraculously return from their pastoral missions to tend to the Virgin’s side. Curious angels break open the thickness of clouds to bear witness to the sacred sight. Rembrandt achieved a dream-like composition by the mixture of finely drawn lines and deep elements of shading. This imagined account of the Virgin’s death was circulated by The Golden Legend, a popular fourteenth-century compendium of Christian histories. The text was a source of inspiration to many European artists.

Purchased 1939 (No. 39.11)



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