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Pieter Claesz. Soutman

(circa 1580–1657, Amsterdam)

The Last Supper. Engraving and drypoint from two plates, after Leonardo da Vinci. 29.7 x 101.4 cm. Hollstein 4 II, Schneevogt p. 38, 231 IV (VI). Watermark: Strasbourg coat-of-arms with fleur-de-lis.

The eventful biography of the painter, etcher and print publisher, Pieter Claesz. Soutman, was greatly influenced by his close personal relationship with Peter Paul Rubens. Between about 1620 and 1624 Soutman was active as Rubens’ pupil and assistant in Antwerp, where he produced a modest body of prints after designs by the master. In 1624 he entered service in Poland and probably worked as court painter there. After returning to Haarlem around 1629 Soutman was in all likelihood apprenticed to Jacob Matham. In 1633 he was appointed commissioner of the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke and subsequently distinguished himself primarily as a portrait painter.

This impressive, large-scale depiction of The Last Supper is based on a drawing Rubens made in Milan in 1607 after the fresco by Leonardo da Vinci in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. This explains the highly expressive Baroque style of the linework, which is very different from the sublime High Renaissance style of Leonardo’s original. Soutman makes combined use here of burin and drypoint. His surprisingly free and expressive manner of drawing is in full conformity with Rubens’ stylistic canon. No less remarkable is the powerful chiaroscuro effect which bathes the scene of The Last Supper in a restless, flickering light, thereby dramatically heightening the emotional impact of the occasion. The print is extremely rare and on offer here in the edition issued by the Amsterdam publisher and engraver, Frederik de Wit (1610–1698).

A superb, tonal and contrasting impression, trimmed to the platemark. Minor condition problems, otherwise in excellent preservation. From the collection of Kupferstichkabinett Dresden (Lugt 1647), with the sale stamp (Lugt 1618).

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