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Titus van Rijn, the Artist’s Son, Reading

Rembrandt1656/1657

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Titus was born in 1641, the fourth child of the painter and his first wife, Saskia, and the only one to reach adulthood. After 1659, he and his father’s mistress, Hendrickje Stoffels, ran Rembrandt’s business, the father having lost his fortune because of his lavish lifestyle and a bad investment about which the archives do not provide adequate information. A court had previously found the artist to be legally incompetent. The son died, however, in 1668, a year before his father. Titus is seated in an armchair, intently reading a book he holds in his hands. His mouth is slightly open, suggesting great focus of attention and giving the scene a subtle immediacy. He appears relaxed, his full attention turned away from the viewer. The light is concentrated on his forehead, hands and book, further strengthening the intimate immediacy of the moment. Rembrandt often used his son as a model. Although Titus has no particular “role” to play here, there is a strong focus on the act of reading, and this takes precedence over the son’s
physiognomy. © Cäcilia Bischoff, Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery, Vienna 2010

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