Houses, by Rembrandt

Rembrandt began making landscape drawings in about 1636 and produced many images of the outskirts of Amsterdam on walks during the 1640s and 1650s. His sketching excursions must have included colleagues and students, who often depicted the same motifs. He seems to have been drawn to simple farmhouses and peasant dwellings, preferring rural structures to new buildings.

Researchers at the Topographical Atlas in the Gemeentearchief, Amsterdam, have recently identified the site of the present drawing as a group of three houses on the Schinkelweg southwest of Amsterdam. This path ran south from the Overtoom (a wooden roller bridge that enabled small vessels to be hauled over from the River Schinkel to a second waterway, the Kostverlorenvaart) and the village of Sloten. Rembrandt drew the scene looking north toward the Overtoom, with the river to his right (the mast of a boat is visible) and reclaimed land, known as the Sloterbinnenpolder, stretching away on the left. One of the houses in the scene includes a signboard. Rembrandt and artists in his circle repeatedly sketched other sites in the same vicinity.