For Rembrandt van Rijn, simple honesty of vision and sureness of line were far more important than the classical glorification of the nude. He focused on this subject only during certain phases of his career, and very few of the resulting studies, which he used to prepare biblical or mythological representations, survive today. This strong form is a late work, and one of the only four extant drawings of the female nude attributed to Rembrandt with certainty. Unlike the almost scientific realism of his earlier nudes, his late studies are less detailed and more painterly. He attained a maximum of expression with a minimum of means. Rendered with a swift treatment by brush and the blunt reed pen favored by the artist in his late years, this ample figure projects a forceful presence. Her face is generalized, and her feelings are suggested through her contemplative pose. Her simple shape and external immobility seem to increase the viewer’s sense of her inner vitality. In “Nude Woman Seated on a Stool,” Rembrandt’s penstrokes and brushwork are integrated with the utmost lightness and perfection; the pen stresses structural features, while the brush provides a transparent, atmospheric tone linking figure and space.


  • Title: Nude Woman Seated on a Stool
  • Creator: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669)
  • Date Created: 1654/56
  • Physical Dimensions: 212 × 174 mm
  • Type: Drawing and Watercolor
  • External Link: The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Media: Pen and brown ink and brush and brown wash on ivory laid paper, laid down on cream laid card
  • Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, Clarence Buckingham Collection, 1953.38
  • Artist: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669)

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