Rembrandt's Etching of Faust to Auction


Rembrandt's etching of Faust

An etching by Rembrandt which is supposed to depict Faust in his study goes under the hammer next week at Kiefer.

Inspired by the German legend based on the historical alchemist Johann Georg Faust, Rembrandt never gave the puzzling c. 1652 etching a name but it has come to be known as A Scholar in His Study ('Faust'). It features an elderly learned figure in his robes, standing by the desk of his study, surrounded by various items including a skull and a glob, and looking towards a radiant disk-shaped apparition on which are inscibed various letters.

Although the scene does not appear in the popular literary works by Christopher Marlowe (performed in the painter's home city of Amsterdam two years earlier) and Johann von Goethe which are based on the story, it has generally been assumed that the subject is indeed the searcher knowledge who makes a pact with the Devil. The letters spell INRI (the inscription above Christ’s head during the crucifixion) and also reflect Kabbalistic writings and acronyms.

The etching will be auctioned on December 13.