Rembrandt and Religion at Notre Dame

Rembrandt van Rijn, David and Goliath from Piedra gloriosa (1655), etching and drypoint on vellum, 10.1 x 7.2 cm. Snite Museum of Art: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jack F. Feddersen, 1991.025.008.

“Rembrandt’s Religious Prints: The Feddersen Collection at the Snite Museum of Art”
Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
3 September– 26 November 2017

Rembrandt’s Religious Prints: The Feddersen Collection at the Snite Museum of Art
By Charles M. Rosenberg
496 pages, 243 color illustration
Published by Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2017.
$70

The Snite Museum of Art is marking the University of Notre Dame’s 175th birthday this fall with an exhibition of 70 prints by Rembrandt from the collection of Jack and Alfrieda Feddersen, as well as two Rembrandts and nine works by other artists also held in the museum’s collection.

Rembrandt van Rijn, Daniel’s Vision for the Four Beasts from Piedra gloriosa (1655), etching and drypoint on vellum, 10.2 x 7.4 cm. Snite Museum of Art: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jack F. Feddersen, 1991.025.009.

Much of this material, which represents about 80 percent of Rembrandt’s religious prints, has been displayed in various iterations since it was first shown at the museum in 1981 soon after the building opened. This is, however, the first time it has been the subject of a comprehensive scholarly catalogue (written by Charles Rosenberg, emeritus professor of art history). The deeply devout Feddersens focused on the artist’s religious images and built much of the collection after Jack’s retirement in 1974 as the president of the Selmer Company, a manufacturer of musical instruments, in Elkhart, Indiana. It was donated to the museum in 1991.

Jack Feddersen immersed himself in the scholarly literature on Rembrandt and sought advice from dealers in the United States and Europe. The earliest records we have of his purchases date to 1966 when he bought Christ and the Woman of Samaria among Ruins (1634; cat. no. 44) and The Stoning of St. Stephen (1635; cat. no. 67) from Associated American Artists in New York. He also bought from New York dealers David Tunick (nine prints, including Abraham Entertaining the Angels [1656; cat. no. 3] and Abraham’s Sacrifice [1655; cat. no. 7]) and Kennedy Galleries (seven prints, most notably Christ Presented to the People: Oblong Plate [1655; cat. no. 51]). In London he frequented Colnaghi’s, where in 1976 he found three of the four illustrations to the Piedra gloriosa de la estatua de Nebuchadnesar (1655; cat. nos. 8–10), a mystical tract by Rabbi Samuel Menasseh ben Israel. Feddersen also made acquisitions from London Arts Gallery and Craddock & Barnard. The records show that between 1973 and 1981 he purchased no fewer than 15 prints from Harrods department store, among them La Petite Tombe (ca. 1652; cat. no. 41) and a fine impression of The Hundred Guilder Print (ca. 1649; cat. no. 48). Helmut Rumbler of Frankfurt sold him one sheet, Presentation in the Temple with the Angel: Small Plate (1630; cat. no. 25) in 1976. Feddersen seems to have purchased at auction only twice: in 1975 when he acquired Flight into Egypt: Crossing a Brook (1654; cat. no. 30) at Sotheby Parke Bernet in New York, and in 1982 when he bought Adam and Eve (1638; cat. no. 2) at Christie’s, New York.

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