Galerie Michael is pleased to present a carefully curated selection of our most exclusive, museum quality works. As the year comes to a close, our team has chosen this select number of masterpieces—arranged by respective artists—to showcase the gallery’s “best ofs.” Galerie Michael is committed to providing our clients with fine art of the highest quality, and we invite you to admire this group of our most extraordinary compositions.

Christ Before Pilate: Larger Plate, 1635 •  REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669)

REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669)
Christ Before Pilate: Larger Plate, 1635 

Etching with engraving on paper
Signed and dated in the plate (partially cut off)
A very good impression of New Hollstein’s fourth state (of five). Shading added with diagonal burin lines to the face of the man with the skull-cap leaning forward just left of Pilate’s outstretched left hand.
B. 77; H. 143; New Hollstein 155
21 1/2 x 17 5/8 in. (54.6 x 44.8 cm)
Framed dimensions: 40 1/2 x 36 in.
077914523 

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 Christ Before Pilate: Larger Plate (1635) by master artist Rembrandt Harmensz Van Rijn survives as a profoundly influential piece in the history of art. Rembrandt, a self-made man of unparalleled talent, is widely celebrated for his unique ability to render theocentric scenes with utmost attention to detail and personal flair. Christ Before Pilate: Larger Plate is inspired by Luke 23, a pivotal chapter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, and it remains one of the artist’s most iconic works. Famous for personalizing his biblical scenes, here, Rembrandt combines the Presentation of Christ to the people and the Mocking of Christ by the people of Jerusalem into a single, visually arresting scene. 

Upon first glance, Christ Before Pilate: Larger Plate appears chaotic—a mass of people swarming towards the central axis of the composition in order to witness Christ confront his fate. However, Rembrandt brilliantly portrays the figure of Christ as the embodiment of a certain quietness amid the chaos as he stands undisturbed, tranquil even, while he directs his gaze towards the heavens. Pilate, the Roman prefect presiding over Christ’s potential death sentence, is also represented as distinct from the buzzing crowd towards the rightward side of the composition. The official, adorned with a luxurious cloak and headdress, desperately attempts to calm the citizens as they relentlessly shout in favor of Christ’s death. The outward position of his arms and panicked expression on his face feel ever so familiar—as if he is too, begging contemporary viewers to refrain from perpetuating the ensuing mayhem of the composition. 

Most notably, Rembrandt inserts himself into the piece—another example of his tendency to include personal touches in his historical scenes. The artist pictures himself slightly to the left of Christ, wearing a velvet cap with a plume (an accessory commonly seen in his self-portraiture). Rembrandt’s insertion of himself in Christ Before Pilate: Larger Plate suggests that the composition transcends space and time—a bold and beautiful artistic statement. Furthermore, the juxtaposition that Rembrandt strikes between incredible light and dramatic darkness in Christ Before Pilate: Larger Plate, perfectly captures the complicated dynamics of this monumental moment in history. Galerie Michael is thrilled to present Christ Before Pilate: Larger Plate, a piece of great historical significance and a precious addition to a private museum quality collection, to collectors worldwide. 

Self Portrait with Saskia, 1636 • Harmensz van Rijn REMBRANDT (1606-1669)

Harmensz van Rijn REMBRANDT (1606-1669)
Self Portrait with Saskia, 1636 

Etching on paper
Signed and dated in the plate
A fine 17th century impression of the scarce second state of three, with narrow margins. Without wear, before the rework under Rembrandt’s cap.
B. 19; H. 144; BB. 36 – A; C2-
4 1/4 x 3 7/8 in. (10.8 x 9.8 cm)
Framed dimensions 21 1/2 x 20 1/2 in.
019404885 

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 Self Portrait with Saskia (1636) by master artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn came to fruition amid a stylistic transition in his art. As exemplified by his work subsequent to 1636-37, Rembrandt’s style discernibly diverges from the Baroque realism of his prior works. During this period, the artist began to gravitate towards a more evolved technique—abandoning his tireless attempts to join engraving and painting and instead, focused on the lucrative practice of etching. Rembrandt’s Self Portrait with Saskia survives as an expression of the impending shift in his career during this period. The composition—designed with striking vitality—also represents a revival and transformation of the Renaissance portrait type that Rembrandt so smoothly captures. 

Self Portrait with Saskia (1636) is an extremely intimate portrait of the artist and his beloved wife, Saskia. Shortly before the time of its conception, in 1631 Rembrandt relocated to Amsterdam to establish a studio. He then received his first commission and within a year, gained great fame as a portraitist. The artist’s abrupt rise to fame lent him an upstanding reputation that ultimately allowed him to marry into the prosperous family of Saskia van Uylenburgh. Saskia, a woman of wealth and elite social stature, contributed to Rembrandt’s prominence and the pair happily enjoyed the trappings of their success. Most notably, in his portraiture, Rembrandt frequently renders nuanced displays of his taste for luxury—usually in the form of 16th-century garbs. In Self Portrait with Saskia, Rembrandt portrays he and his wife in refined garments as they assume aristocratic poses—attire reminiscent of Renaissance costumes. Rembrandt dons a 16th-century plumed beret, playfully tilted towards viewers, complete with a fur-trimmed overcoat. His wife sports an old-fashioned veil that partially obscures her soft curls. Here, the artist’s inclusion of these costumes speaks to his strong sense of stylistic agency and suggests a bold rejection of 17th-century artistic convention. 

In Self Portrait in a Self Portrait with Saskia, Rembrandt illustrates himself on the right side of the composition in three quarter-profile. The artist strikes a commanding pose and steadily stares directly at viewers. Saskia, pictured slightly behind him on the right side of the piece, directs her loving gaze towards her husband. For this, it seems the focus of the piece is to entice and impress viewers—reflecting Rembrandt’s expert grasp of portraiture. The couple appears calm and natural; a wife watching her husband as he casually observes his audience. Here, Rembrandt commands the composition with his implied sense of confidence, self-awareness and vintage charm. Though, despite Rembrandt’s placement of her behind him, Saskia maintains her own sense of self. The artist’s rendering of his wife suggests light washing over her, illuminating her soft face and gentle grin. Alternatively, Rembrandt captures himself in partial darkness, perhaps as a symbolic gesture alluding to Rembrandt’s greater importance in the composition. However, Rembrandt’s use of light and dark as well as the couple’s dressings may suggest that the piece exemplifies a rendition of a marriage portrait—Saskia remaining further away and protected by her husband. Aside from his symbolic nuances, Self Portrait in a Self Portrait with Saskia is an iconic display of Rembrandt’s ground-breaking ability to render his subjects in a most realistic fashion through his harness of color gradients. 

A pioneer in the history of art, Rembrandt’s self-portraits (appropriately) convey the artist’s high-regard for himself and Self Portrait with Saskia exemplifies Rembrandt’s recognition of his accomplishments as both an artist and elite member of society. The composition is displayed in numerous world-renowned museums and survives as a most coveted, original etching (largely due to its reputation as the only etching the artist ever made of he and his wife together). Galerie Michael is proud to present Self Portrait with Saskia, a composition of profound significance and an integral addition to a private museum quality collection. 

Faust, 1652 • Harmensz van Rijn REMBRANDT (1606-1669)

Harmensz van Rijn REMBRANDT (1606-1669)
Faust, 1652 

Etching with drypoint and burin on laid paper
A possible late 17th/probable early 18th century impression of the third and final state, still printing with light burr on the sleeve. Trimmed to the platemark. New Hollstein’s fifth state of seven.
B. 270, New Hollstein 270 H. 260; BB. 52-4
8 1/4 x 6 1/4 in. (21 x 15.9 cm)
Framed dimensions: 25 5/16 x 23 in.
270404865 

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 The dazzling etching titled Faust (1652), by master artist Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt depicts an inspiring moment of spiritual mystery. Produced during the latter part of his career, the composition diverges from Rembrandt’s largely theocentric oeuvre (primarily depicting celebrated religious figures) and instead, features the German folk legend called Dr. Faust. In popular literature, the folklore figure of Faust is based on the German Alchemist, Johann Georg Faust (c. 1480–1540)—a peculiar man also involved in the practices of Astrology and magic during the German Renaissance. Today, the most widely-known portrayal of the quirky Doctor remains Goethe’s Faust (1831), a two-part play exploring themes of morality, spirituality and human error through the lenses of Faust’s unconventional life. A production that majorly contributed to the European Romantic movement in literature, Goethe describes the Doctor’s dealings with the Devil—Mephistopheles—who proposes an offer too magnificent for the disillusioned man to refuse. The proposition suggests that Mephistopheles must serve Faust on earth, facilitating a full life for the Doctor on a single condition—a moment should come that will enthrall Faust; a moment so magical that the man will desire it to last for an eternity—but if Faust is to bid the moment to stay, his soul will forevermore serve Mephistopheles. While the play came to fruition almost two centuries after Rembrandt’s death, interpretations of the folk-legend have remained surprisingly consistent since its emergence sometime in the 16th-century. 

 Rembrandt’s Faust captures the moment that the devil promised to the Doctor. The artist renders Faust in a three-quarter profile, his face turned away from viewers—creating a strikingly voyeuristic element to the piece, as if viewers are witnessing a private moment experienced by a man unknowing of their presence. Faust appears enchanted by a heavenly light hovering before him which encapsulates a disk adorned with symbols and religious abbreviations—one inscription reading, “INRI” (“Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews”) in Latin. Paying utmost attention to detail, Rembrandt inserts a ghostly hand near the bottom right of the orb of light. Attached to the hand is a shadowy arm which fades at the shoulder into an indiscernible, phantom spectacle. 

Goethe describes this seemingly indescribable moment of beauty, 

If ever I to the moment shall say:
Beautiful moment, do not pass away!
Then you may forge your chains to bind me,
Then I will put my life behind me,
Then let them hear my death-knell toll,
Then from your labours you’ll be free,
The clock may stop, the clock-hands fall,
And time come to an end for me! 

As illustrated by the author, Faust is unable to let his special moment pass. He enters into a state of complacency, submitting himself to the wills of Mephistopheles and surrenders his soul. Rembrandt’s use of light and dark to capture this tragically wonderful second of pure ecstasy adds an element of drama to an already dramatic story. While Faust is the protagonist in the story, Rembrandt’s bright rendering of the unearthly disk quite literally demonstrates Faust being overshadowed by the moment of perfection in which he was promised. 

Here, the artist suggests that despite Faust’s genius, the Doctor is ultimately overtaken by his mortal whims and realizes much too late that he is forever unable to match the ghastly power of the devil. Instead, the Doctor must accept his mortal fate and Rembrandt conveys this dilemma through his insertion of earthly objects—a skull shown near the left middle margin of the composition; a globe sitting on the bottom right corner; the work table which Faust leans on—juxtaposed with the transcendent light of the globe. 

In many ways, Faust’s plight is timeless. The Doctor’s quest for knowledge and immortality compels him to make an unfavorable decision that ultimately leads to his demise. Though, he initially makes said decision due to his desire to bring goodness into the world. A rather relatable character, Faust survives as a metaphor concerning the nature of human error and remains a prolific figure in the realms of art and literature. In Faust, Rembrandt illustrates the most important moment in the Doctor’s story with brilliant, lightly etched passages that contrast deeply with the dark, rich areas of dry point. Galerie Michael is thrilled to present Faust, a composition of impeccable quality and fundamental addition to a private museum quality collection, to collectors worldwide.