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A woman is leaning on the half-open door, looking at the viewer with her head slightly inclined. The informal pose and dress – a housecoat, glowing deep red in places and tied casually over the low-cut white undergarment – suggest a familiar relationship between painter and model. For this reason the woman was identified as his later companion Hendrickje Stoffels. The fact that Rembrandt also had her sit for other paintings supports this interpretation. The pictorial type reveals his familiarity with Palma Vecchio’s portraits of courtesans. This is confirmed by scientific investigations showing that the movement of the right arm originally corresponded with the Venetian model, but was then increasingly modified. While the ring on Hendrickje’s chain gives her the status of a married woman, the courtesan’s pose reflects the extramarital relationship disapproved of by the church.

Details

  • Title: Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels
  • Creator: Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
  • Date Created: around 1656
  • Physical Dimensions: w67.0 x h88.5 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Style: Netherlandish
  • Copyright Text: Text: © http://www.prestel.com, Prestel Verlag / Claudia Banz // Photo: © http://www.bpk-images.de, b p k - Photo Agency / Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Collection: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist information: Rembrandt has gone down in history as one of the greatest painters, printmakers and etchers in the whole of European art and the most important Dutch artist to date. Even at an early age he gained a very high reputation as a portrait painter and in his most active period, during the Dutch Golden Age, he executed a spectacular array of works. In 1627 he began to accept students in his big workshop and became master of several artists, including Carel Fabritius and Ferdinand Bol. Some years later he moved on to Amsterdam, where he started his professional career as a portraitist. His focus would always remain on portraiture, but he also created landscapes and narrative paintings. His style was initially quite 'smooth' and fine, later though it became 'rough' due to his variegated paint surfaces which gave a highly tactile quality to his paintings. He is also considered a master of chiaroscuro due to the contrasts of light and dark which so characterize his works. The themes he took up in his paintings served many artists as inspiration, during his lifetime but also after death. The last years of his life were dominated by serious poverty due to high debts. In 1656 he was even declared bankrupt. Rembrandt is best known for such works as 'The Night Watch' (1642) or 'The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp' (1631).
  • Artist Place of Death: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Artist Place of Birth: Leiden, Netherlands
  • Artist Gender: male
  • Artist Dates: 1606-07-15/1669-10-04

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