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"The Kitchen Maid"

Rembrandt1651

Nationalmuseum Sweden

Nationalmuseum Sweden

“The Kitchen Maid” is considered by many to be one of Rembrandt’s most representative works. The warm shades of red, brown and yellow, and the vivid depiction of the girl, make this one of his true masterpieces.

One might assume that Rembrandt had a special person, perhaps someone in his household, as a model, someone he knew well, since he has given her such a distinct character. However it was not his Hendrickje, the woman he was living with in 1651. She was 25 years old by then and the girl in “The Kitchen Maid” is probably somewhat younger. In the middle of the 17th century, Rembrandt painted a series of paintings on the borderline between portraits and genre pictures of young women. Nationalmuseum’s collection includes a series of drawings with a similar composition, where the model is resting on her elbows.

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Details

  • Title: "The Kitchen Maid"
  • Creator: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
  • Date Created: 1651
  • Title in Swedish: "Kökspigan"
  • Signature: Rembrandt. f.1651
  • Physical Dimensions: w640 x h780 cm (without frame)
  • Artist Information: Rembrandt was a Dutch artist who produced paintings, drawings and etchings. He was born in Leiden as the eighth child of nine. He received his grounding in art under historical painter Jacob van Swanenburgh in Leiden and later Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. In around 1625, Rembrandt set himself up as an independent master. He settled permanently in Amsterdam in 1631, becoming a much sought after portraitist, but he also painted historical and religious subjects. His great breakthrough came with the group portrait The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632, now in the Mauritshuis, The Hague). In 1642, he completed perhaps his most famous work, 'Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch'., better known as The Night Watch (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). Rembrandt painted more self-portraits than any other known artist of his time, painting, etching and drawing 80 or so images of himself. Rembrandt married Saskia van Uylenburgh in 1634 and they had four children, although only one, Titus, reached adulthood. Saskia’s death in 1642 hit Rembrandt hard. His output fell dramatically, and for a time he stopped painting altogether, concentrating instead on drawing and making etchings. For various reasons he fell into financial difficulties that led to bankruptcy in 1656. In 1661–1662, he was commissioned to complete the wall-painting The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis (Nationalmuseum, Stockholm) for Amsterdam City Hall. For unknown reasons, the painting was taken down, trimmed and replaced with a work by another artist. Rembrandt died in 1669 in Amsterdam, a year after his son Titus.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Nationalmuseum, Nationalmuseum
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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