In Rembrandt's work, genre subjects are to be found almost exclusively among the drawings and etchings. An unruly child is depicted here: his mother or wet nurse is apparently carrying it out of a room. The child is screaming and kicking so much that his garment has ridden up above his waist and he has lost a shoe. An old woman gives him a few words of admonishment for his way, and two children interestedly observe the scene. At first glance, Rembrandt seems to have drawn the scene from life. At one time, it was even believed that Rembrandt's wife Saskia and his children were to be seen in such depictions of family life. However, the schematic repetition of faces and gestures is particularly characteristic of the artist’s images of children. Rembrandt recorded the same boy from this sheet multiple times, e.g. in the drawing in Dresden of Ganymede abducted by the eagle. Surely, he observed this type of everyday scene very precisely, but it is only logical that he carried them out on paper from memory – the Dutch used the term van onthout for this concept. It was presumably an ancient statuette owned by Rembrandt that provided the model for the unusual motif of a screaming boy. Rembrandt's artistry consisted in nonetheless preserving the appearance of observed reality.


  • Title: The Unruly child
  • Creator: Rembrandt
  • Date: c. 1635 - 1636
  • Physical Dimensions: w14.2 x h20.7 cm
  • Type: Paper
  • Medium: Pen and brown ink on paper with brown wash, white lead; contours indented for transfer to an etching plate
  • Inv.-No.: KdZ 3771
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Jörg P. Anders │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Holm Bevers
  • Collection: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist Place of Death: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Artist Place of Birth: Leiden, Netherlands
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 1606.07.15 - 1669.10.04

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