Elizabeth Harvey-Lee

Samuel Menassah ben Israel (1636 Amsterdam)



Width 103.00mm wide [4.06 inches wide]
Height 149.00mm high [5.87 inches high]


Ex collection the Australian artist Sir Lionel Lindsay, who purchased it from Colnaghi, his London dealer. It was acquired by the Nelson Gallery in Melbourne in 1970 from Lindsay’s son.


New Hollstein 156 iii/v, Bartsch 269, Hind 146 ii/iii, Usticke 269 iii/iv

Description / Expertise

Original etching, 1636. The plate signed and dated.
A later 17th century impression with the accidental marks at the foot of the plate. (The plate would be mezzotinted in the 18th century and has since been lost.)
When Rembrandt settled in Amsterdam in 1631 he lived and worked until early 1636, in the house of the art dealer Hendrick van Uylenburgh in the Anthonisbreestraat, the same street where he would buy his own house in 1637.
When he had married Uylenburgh’s cousin Saskia in 1634 they remained with him till they moved for a year to rent temporary accomodation in the fashionable Nieuwe Doelenstraat before moving back to the Breestraat, into their own house.
The portrait of Menassah ben Israel was therefore etched either in Breestraat before the move, or in Nieuwe Doelenstraat. The Breestraat area was becoming a centre for Portuguese Jews who had fled the Inquisition. Menasseh ben Israel bridged the Jewish and Christian worlds and was a close friend of Rembrandt and a neighbour on the Breestraat.
Manoel Dias Soeiro (1604-1657), better known by his Hebrew name, Menasseh ben Israel, was a rabbi, scholar, philosopher, diplomat and printer, founding the first Hebrew press in Amsterdam in 1626.