Painted in 1645 when Rembrandt was thirty-nine, this image - falling somewhere between genre and portraiture - remains as mysterious and full of ambiguities as ever. A frequently quoted account by the French art theorist and early owner of the work, Roger de Piles (1635-1709), claims that passers-by, seeing it in a window, mistook it for a real flesh and blood girl. The identity of the girl has also been shrouded in uncertainty, with suggestions including servant (the most universally accepted), family member, courtesan and historical figure.

During the conservation of this painting, the discoloured varnish was carefully removed, revealing an astonishingly bold mixture of colours in the model’s face.


  • Title: Girl at a Window
  • Date: 1645
  • Physical Dimensions: w662 x h818 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • null: Drawing: executors of Count Seilern.
  • Work Nationality: Dutch
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: ?Paris, Roger de Piles, 1693; In France early 18th century (copy by Santerre); Paris, M. Angran, Viscount de Fonspertius sale, 1748; Paris, Blondel de Gagny sale, 10 Dec. 1776, lot X; J.-B.-P. Le Brun; sold to unknown Englishman; probably in England by late 1770s (Lord Polwarth Collection? A. Grenville Scott pastel, dated ?1779 and copy by Reynolds, c. 1780, St Petersburg, Hermitage); London, Noel Desenfans, 1786-1807: London, Christie's, Desenfans private sale, 8ff Apr. 1786, lot 390 ('Dutch Woman'). £10.10 (bt in); 1804 Insurance List, no. 88; London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807-1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Inscriptions: Rembrandt ft.
  • Further Information: " Falling somewhere between genre and portraiture, the painting remains mysterious and full of ambiguities. More than three hundred and fifty years after she was painted - Rembrandt's ability to conjure up the sense of a living being out of paint can still astound, while the warmth and humanity in the girl's unsentimental gaze continues undiminished. Cleaning also permitted a clearer appreciation of Rembrandt's confident sweeps of the brush and thickly applied 'impasto' paint (see, for example, the smeared areas laid on around the girl's left eye and temple)."
  • Artist: Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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