This portrait is one of a pair commissioned in 1632 to commemorate the friendship of Jacob de Gheyn (1596-1641) and Maurits Huygens (1595-1642). De Gheyn was a successful court artist and Huygens was the Secretary to the Council of State in Holland. An inscription on the back of the panel identifies the sitter and refers to De Gheyn's bequest of his portrait to his friend. Both paintings remained in the Huygens family until the eighteenth century; the companion portrait of Maurits is now in the Kunsthalle, Hamburg.


  • Title: Jacob III de Gheyn
  • Date: 1632
  • Physical Dimensions: w249 x h299 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • null: The companion portrait of Maurits Huygens is at Hamburg, Kunsthalle.UNLIKELY TO BE THE WORK IN THE 1786 SALE: DOESN'T APPEAR IN 1791-2 CATALOGUE, OR 1804 LIST.
  • Work Nationality: Dutch
  • Support: Panel
  • Provenance: J. de Gheyn; bequethed by him to M. Huygens (d. 1642); Huygens family; Utrecht, A. R. van Waay sale, 27 Feb. 1764, lot 123; ?London, Noel Desenfans, ?1786-?1807: ?London, Desenfans private sale, 8ff. Jun. 1786, lot 264 ('Rembrandt, A head, 1ft. by 11 in. on pannel'), not in later Desenfans catalogues; ?Paris, van Leyden sale, 10 Sep. 1804, lot 152; London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Inscriptions: RHL van Ryn
  • Further Information: "This portrait at first looks like the product of an unpromising commission. How could a painter be expected to make much of a single head on such a small scale, especially when his sitter insists on wearing such sombre clothes? Rembrandt accepts that there is nothing much to be done compositionally: he even makes a virtue out of this simple, direct and frontal arrangement. But there are two other vital elements which he uses to infuse life into the image. The first is light. The cheek is so brilliantly lit that the detail appears to have been lost in the glare. A glowing aura surrounds the head like the rings of Saturn. There is no obvious wall or surface reflecting this light, which seems to have a substance of its own. Rembrandt observes that paint has texture as well as colour, and that it can be used to create form by building up a crust, almost like plaster relief. The creases around the right eye are etched in the paint surface, as they were in De Gheyn's face. Jacob Ill de Gheyn (c.1596-1641) was the grandson of a glass painter and miniaturist, and son of a painter and engraver, both of the same name. He was active as an engraver in The Hague by 1614 and also produced drawings and a small number of paintings. After trips to London in 1618 (with Constantijn Huygens) and Sweden in 1620, he settled in Utrecht, where he became a canon of the Mariakerk, and where he died. The sitter is identified by an inscription on the verso. "
  • Artist: Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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