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After learning the fundamentals of drawing and painting in his native Leiden, Rembrandt van Rijn went to Amsterdam in 1624 to study for six months with Pieter Lastman (1583–1633), a famous history painter. Upon completion of his training Rembrandt returned to Leiden. Around 1632 he moved to Amsterdam, quickly establishing himself as the town’s leading artist, specializing in history paintings and portraiture. He received many commissions and attracted a number of students who came to learn his method of painting.


Although this painting was once highly regarded as a famous self-portrait, technical and stylistic evidence indicates that it was created by an unknown artist in Rembrandt’s workshop. The paint mixtures, types of pigments used, and presence of a double ground—a red lower ground covered by a dark gray upper layer—are all consistent with the materials and practices used in his workshop.


This painting is unusual in that the costume is executed in a manner quite different from the face; whereas the features are modeled with delicate nuance, the costume is hinted at with a variety of bold techniques. Rembrandt’s portraits generally do not show such markedly different techniques in the face and the costume. This and other stylistic considerations are sufficient to remove the painting from Rembrandt's own oeuvre. It may well be that Rembrandt, after having posed for this painting, approved its concept and manner of execution before allowing its sale. To judge from the number of self-portraits Rembrandt painted and etched, and from the numerous portraits of him made by members of his workshop, there was a ready market for images of the artist.

Details

  • Title: Portrait of Rembrandt
  • Creator: Rembrandt Workshop
  • Date Created: 1650
  • Physical Dimensions: overall: 92 x 75.5 cm (36 1/4 x 29 3/4 in.) framed: 125.1 x 107 x 11.4 cm (49 1/4 x 42 1/8 x 4 1/2 in.)
  • Provenance: Chevalier Sébastien Érard [1752-1831], Château de la Muette, near the Bois de Boulogne, Paris; (his estate sale, at his residence by Lacoste and Coutelier, 7-14 August 1832 [originally scheduled for 23 April and days following], no. 119, as _Portrait de Martin-Kappertz-Tromp_). William Williams Hope [1802-1855], Rushton Hall, Northamptonshire, by 1836;[1] (his sale, Christie & Manson, London, 14-16 June 1849, 2nd day, no. 116, as a _Portrait of Admiral Van Tromp_); Sir Anthony Nathan de Rothschild, 1st bt. [1810-1876], London, and Aston Clinton House, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire; by inheritance to his wife, Lady Anthony de Rothschild [née Louise Montefiore, 1821-1910], London and Aston Clinton House; (Thos. Agnew & Sons, London); sold 13 May 1908 to Peter A.B. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania;[2] inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; gift 1942 to NGA. [1] John Smith, _A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters_, 9 vols., London, 1829-1842: 7(1836):86-87, no. 211. [2] A transcript of Agnew's bill, from the Widener Collection records, is in NGA curatorial files.
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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