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Intently interested in the expression of human emotion, Rembrandt often used himself as his own model in his early years as an independent master in Leiden. Here, in a small and freely painted work, he appears in the guise of a soldier, relaxed and engaging the viewer with a laugh.

For this sophisticated self-portrait, painted at age twenty-one or twenty-two, Rembrandt combines a study of character and emotion (known in Dutch as a tronie) with a rare jovial self-presentation. The lively, short brushwork in the face and brisk handling of the neutral background convey a sense of spontaneity and immediacy.

This is one of a small number of paintings by Rembrandt from the late 1620s executed on copper. He signed it in the upper-left corner with his monogram of interlocking letters, "RHL" (Rembrandt Harmenszoon Leidensis), which he used only briefly, from late 1627 to early 1629.

Art + Ideas Podcast: Anne Woollett on Rembrandt Laughing

Details

  • Title: Rembrandt Laughing
  • Creator: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
  • Date Created: about 1628
  • Location Created: Netherlands
  • Physical Dimensions: 22.2 × 17.1 cm (8 3/4 × 6 3/4 in.)
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Oil on copper
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 2013.60
  • Culture: Dutch
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669)
  • Classification: Paintings (Visual Works)

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