Landscape with an Obelisk, c. 1650

In 1624 the city of Amsterdam erected the obelisk pictured here to mark its expanded boundary along the Spaardammerdijk River toward the town of Haarlem. Rembrandt romanticized the view of the relatively barren landscape, adding features and making the obelisk appear considerably larger than it actually was. Look closely to see that he initially drew it with an orb on top, just reaching the top of the image. Giving the etching needle greater dimension, he more firmly anchored the entire image.

To the right is a farmhouse. The big peaked, thatched roof covers the animal barn, and the gabled section is the farmer's residence. The two structures were contiguous in order to preserve precious warmth during the cold, damp Dutch winters. Rembrandt shows it is time to prepare for another winter, for the roof of the hayrick-just behind the marker-is lowered, indicating the hay has been used up. A tiny figure in the distance carries a scythe for cutting hay to refill the rick.

Landscape with an Obelisk
Artist Life
1606 - 1669
Accession Number
[Heinrich Eisemann, London, until 1957; sold June 14, for $1,250, to Mia]
Catalogue Raisonne
Hind 243 ii/ii; B. 227; Mz.157 ii/ii; Holl. 227 ii/ii; B-B. 50-3 ii/ii
Curator Approved

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