Numerous paintings and drawings show that Rembrandt was more interested in himself as a subject, from the earliest times and well into old age, than any other artist of his period. This portrait with a velvet beret is a manifestation of his self-confidence: he had married Saskia Uylenburgh in 1634, and thus above his station. It also shows that he was familiar with the famous Rubens self-portrait (Windsor Castle). But unlike Rubens, Rembrandt does not present himself as an honourable gentleman, but as an established painter, who is basing his self-representation on art, rather then social status. The beret is also one of the painter’s typical attributes, and the alert turn of the head towards the viewer and the thoughtful look out of the picture had been standard to the portraiture of artists since the Renaissance.


  • Title: Self-Portrait with Velvet Beret
  • Creator: Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
  • Date Created: 1634
  • Physical Dimensions: w47.5 x h58.3 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Medium: Oil on oak wood
  • 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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