Leon Kossoff

From Rembrandt: A Woman Bathing in a Stream


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Not on display

Leon Kossoff 1926 – 2019
Etching on paper
190 x 150 mm
Presented by the artist 2007


This print

is one of many works executed by the London-based artist Leon Kossoff in response to paintings

from the National Gallery, London, in this case, A Woman Bathing in a Stream (Hendrickje Stoffels?), 1654, by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–69). Rembrandt’s work has a long-standing appeal to Kossoff, whose output includes numerous drawings and prints derived from close study of the Dutch master’s art. Kossoff etched these works in front of the paintings in question and a quality of spontaneity is characteristic of the finished prints. Tate’s collection includes two versions of this image derived from the same plate, acquired at different times. P11686, acquired by Tate in 1999, is a trial proof in black ink. P20303 is a unique proof printed in brown ink. This work forms part of a group of thirty-four unique and proof impressions of prints (P20296P20329) given to Tate by the artist in 2007. Most of the works that made up the gift to Tate were displayed in the 2007 exhibition Leon Kossoff: Drawing from Painting at the National Gallery.

Kossoff’s interpretation follows the composition of the Dutch Master’s painting in that he focuses on the figure of the woman wading in the stream, but draws her in a loose and sketchy style. Eschewing Rembrandt’s atmospheric chiaroscuro, Kossoff evokes the dark setting of the original with economical and apparently rapidly executed strokes.

For Kossoff, studying and interpreting Old Master paintings in new ways provides a way of deepening his understanding of the dynamics at play in their compositions and of the emotions they produce. The artist has commented: ‘[M]y attitude to these works has always been to teach myself to draw from them, and, by repeated visits, to try to understand why certain pictures have a transforming effect on my mind.’ (Quoted in Morphet, p.225.)

Kossoff collaborated on the production of the prints with the artist Ann Dowker.

Further reading:
Richard Kendall, Drawn to Painting: Leon Kossoff Drawings and Prints After Nicolas Poussin, London 2000.
Richard Morphet, Encounters: New Art From Old, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery, London 2000, pp.214–35.
Leon Kossoff: Drawing from Painting, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery, London 2007, reproduced no.26.

Alice Sanger
August 2009

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