Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Liverpool, United Kingdom

Rembrandt painted self-portraits regularly throughout his life. In his early years especially, he used them as opportunities to experiment with different techniques of handling paint, different lighting effects, costumes and facial expressions. In this example, painted when the artist was aged about 24, the lighting is soft and the face is made mysterious by the areas of shadow around the eyes and mouth. This is one of the very first works by Rembrandt to have entered Britain. It was acquired by Charles I, one of the greatest art collectors of the age, in 1633, but was sold after the King’s execution.


  • Title: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Creator: Rembrandt van Rijn
  • Creator Lifespan: 1606/1669
  • Creator Nationality: Dutch
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Creator Birth Place: Leiden, The Netherlands
  • Date Created: 1630/1631
  • tag / style: Portraiture; Rembrandt van Rijn; self portrait; shadows; man; Rembrandt van Rijn; hat; smile
  • Physical Dimensions: w570 x h697 cm (Without frame)
  • Artwork History: Previously in the collection of King Charles I
  • Artist biographical information: Once Rembrandt had moved to Amsterdam, in the winter of 1631, he quickly established himself as the leading portrait painter of the cosmopolitan city’s business and professional establishment and its religious leaders of different faiths - Calvinist, Catholics and Jews. He used his painted self-portraits to explore the effect on the overall mood on an image of the fall of light and shade over the face, before embarking on commissioned portraits. Later self-portraits from the 1650s and 1660s, painted after his bankruptcy sale in 1656, seem often to have had a personal symbolism of particular significance to Rembrandt. 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' was painted shortly after the young Rembrandt’s career prospects improved greatly. Towards the end of 1628 he and his close friend and rival Jan Lievens (1607-74) were ‘discovered’ by Constantijn Huygens, the Secretary to Prince Frederik Hendrik, the Stadholder, or hereditary president, of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. One of Huygens’ tasks was to scout out artists for the court of his employer. To learn more about Rembrandt’s life please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=2&id=300
  • Additional artwork information: This painting was the subject of an ‘Artwork Highlight’ talk given by curator Xanthe Brooke at the Walker Art Gallery in 2006. To read the notes from this talk please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=2&id=300 To listen to a podcast of this talk please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/podcasts/rembrandt_self-portrait.aspx
  • Type: Oil on panel
  • Rights: Presented by the Ocean Steam Ship Co., P.H. Holt Trust in 1953

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