This Self-Portrait shows Fabritius with a shock of tousled curls, in an open-necked shirt that reveals his chest hair. He portrayed himself against a crumbling wall and scratched his signature into the wet paint. Fabritius was born in the village of Middenbeemster in the Dutch province of North Holland and studied under Rembrandt. This information comes from the Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst (1678) by Samuel van Hoogstraten, another of Rembrandt’s pupils. Fabritius’ earliest known paintings are entirely consistent with his teacher’s style as regards both the composition and his rendering of figures. Like Rembrandt’s, they are vigorously painted, with strong contrasts between light and shade. In 1650, Fabritius moved to Delft, where he developed a more colourful style. In the Self-Portrait Rembrandt’s influence can be seen in the broad manner of painting. The light background, however, suggests that it was made close to, or after 1645. Fabritius painted a second self-portrait in 1654, in which Rembrandt’s influence is less explicit. That work is now in the National Gallery in London.


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