Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., “Rembrandt van Rijn/Self-Portrait/1659,” Dutch paints of the ten Century, digital Editions, (accessed October 15, 2021).


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After finding out the fundamentals that drawing and painting in his indigenous Leiden, Rembrandt valve Rijn visited Amsterdam in 1624 to study for six months with Pieter Lastman (1583–1633), a famous history painter. Upon completion of his cultivate Rembrandt returned to Leiden. About 1632 he relocated to Amsterdam, quickly developing himself as the town’s top artist. That received countless commissions for portraits and also attracted a variety of students who pertained to learn his technique of painting.

Rembrandt painted, drew, and also etched so countless self-portraits in his life time that transforms in his figure invite us to gauge his atmosphere by to compare one picture to another. Together a biographical analysis is encouraged by the method in which the artist confronts the viewer directly. Rembrandt painted this self-portrait in 1659, after ~ he had suffered jae won failure regardless of so countless years that success. His spacious house on the Sint-Anthonisbreestraat and also other possessions had been auctioned the ahead year to meet his creditors. In this late work, the deep-set eyes that bore right into those of the viewer seem come express within strength and dignity. Interpreting paintings on the communication of an artist’s story is nonetheless dangerous, specifically with one artist whose life has been romanticized to the extent that Rembrandt’s has.

The light that so effectively illuminates the head likewise accents Rembrandt’s left shoulder and, to a lesser extent, his extensively executed clasped hands. Rembrandt’s pose was motivated by Raphael’s famed portrait of Balthasar Castiglione, which had showed up in an auction in Amsterdam in 1639. Adhering to Raphael’s prototype, Rembrandt used the pose, costume, and also expression to existing himself as a learned painter.


The confront is familiar, together is the penetrating gaze v which the sitter stares directly out at the viewer. No question, it is Rembrandt, so late in his life, at a time once he has actually suffered v the cruel indignities of failure after so numerous years the success. Indeed, this portrait, painted in 1659, dates to the year after ~ Rembrandt’s possessions and his residence on the Sint-Anthonisbreestraat had been auctioned as a result of his insolvency. It might well have been one of the an initial works that painted in the tiny house top top the Rozengracht, in the painters’ 4 minutes 1 of Amsterdam, wherein he had moved once his fortunes and his prospects to be at short ebb. In the adhering to year Rembrandt set up a service agreement with his son Titus and Hendrickje Stoffels, the artist’s companion in the last decades of his life, the prevented that from being sued by any kind of of his dissatisfied creditors for recovery of debts.<1> <1>Walter L. Strauss and also Marjon van der Meulen, The Rembrandt documents (New York, 1979), 462–465, doc. 1660/20.

Rightly or mistakenly it seems almost impossible to ponder this occupational without interpreting it in irradiate of what is known about Rembrandt’s life. This inclination is feeling in component because that the extensive biographical information that has come under to us, with which we we are able to feel a closer contact with the man and his life than we perform with many artists the this period. It additionally seems possible to translate Rembrandt’s the atmosphere in together paintings since he painted, drew, and etched so plenty of self-portraits that transforms in his appearance can be measured and analyzed by comparing one to another. Even an ext significantly, however, we review these photos biographically due to the fact that Rembrandt forces us to execute so. The looks out at us and also confronts us directly. His deep-set eye peer intently. They show up steady, however heavy and also not there is no sadness. As Hofstede de Groot remarked in recommendation to this painting when it was shown in the 1898 Rembrandt exhibition in Amsterdam, “It would certainly be daunting to discover in any of his paints a pair the eyes the peer in ~ us much more sharply or penetratingly.”<2> <2>Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, Rembrandt. Collection des oeuvres des maîtres réunies, à l"occasion de l"inauguration de S. M. La Reine Wilhelmine (Amsterdam, 1898), 13. “Het zou moeilijk wezen in al zijn schilderijen een paar oogen aan dare wijzen, dice ons scherper en doordringender aanzien.” Émile Michel, in his evaluation of the exhibition, to be even much more expressive around the forcefulness the Rembrandt’s gaze with the hefty wrinkles the had concerned age his confront so prematurely.<3> <3>Émile Michel, “L’Exposition Rembrandt à Amsterdam,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 20 (December 1898): 478–480. “Sous l’influence d’une vie trop casanière, une graisse malsaine envahit les chairs flasques et boursouflées; des rides nombreuses et profondes sont creusées sur son big front.... Avec leur paupières épaissies, les yeux, devenus add to petits, ont conservé leur étincelle et sous les sourcils en broussaille, le regard interrogateur et pénétrant du peintre persiste, obstiné, ardent comme le charbon sous la cendre. Sans l’abattre, les soucis et les malheurs n’ont fait qu’épurer en lui la enthusiasm de boy art qui le soutient et cet amour de la nature qui lui permet de découvrir des trésors de beauté et de poésie là où les autres passent indifférents.”

While the monitorings of Hofstede de Groot and Michel it seems ~ entirely proper to the image, too regularly this painting has been subjected to overly romantic interpretations, in i beg your pardon authors have tried come read right into this somber image Rembrandt’s very own reflections ~ above the profound tragedy of his life.<4> <4>Perhaps the most insupportable claims around this painting were said by man Walker (John Walker, nationwide Gallery of Art, Washington , 270), who wrote, in part: “ experienced a mouth and also a chin weak, infirm that purpose, manifesting the flaw in his personality which had destroyed his life. His hands space grasped as though in anguish in ~ the spectacle of a self-ruined man. There exists no painting an ext pitiless in its analysis or much more pitiful in that implications.” Interpreting paints on the communication of one artist’s biography is dangerous, particularly with one artist who life has actually been romanticized to the level that Rembrandt’s has been.<5> <5>For the nature of this myths check out Seymour Slive, Rembrandt and also His Critics, 1630–1730 (The Hague, 1953) and also Jan Ameling Emmens, Rembrandt en de Regels van de Kunst (Utrecht, 1968). In this instance the inclination to interpret this photo as a catastrophic one was reinforced through the thick layers the discolored varnish that had given the portrait a heavy, brooding quality. Through the removal of the discolored varnish during restoration in 1992, the fallacy of together interpretations became particularly apparent. With the rich variety of pinks and also other meat tones top top his face once again visible, Rembrandt’s state of mind seems to have improved remarkably. When the special impastos and bold strokes he provided to version his confront still develop the dynamic vigor that the head, evident now also is the economic situation with which Rembrandt tackled his paint: that has enabled a greenish gray ImprimaturaImprimatura A colored priming layer used to create the tonality of the painting. Great to review as the shadowed area approximately the eyes. Finally, the firmness that his touch is accented by the wiry rhythms in his mustache and in the hair protruding native under his beret, i m sorry he has delineated by scratching the wet repaint with the blunt end of his brush.

An added benefit indigenous the reconstruction was the removed of OverpaintOverpaint A layer of paint that covers original paint. That had actually flattened the appearance of Rembrandt’s torso. V the three-dimensional personality of this section of the painting restored, the head seems far more firmly planted on the body 보다 it had actually previously. The light the so successfully illuminates the head now additionally accents Rembrandt’s left shoulder and, to a lesser extent, his broadly executed clasped hands. The X-radiograph that the head, i beg your pardon reveals the vigorous, practically sculptural personality of Rembrandt’s taking care of of paint, also indicates, v the density of the paint in the beret, that Rembrandt at first painted the beret a different shade  


In Rembrandt’s 1659 Self-Portrait, all compositional referrals to Titian’s portrait have disappeared, specifically the rock parapet upon which the artist rests his eight in the 1639 etching and the 1640 painting.<11> <11>J.L.A.A.M. Van Rijckevorsel, Rembrandt en de Traditie (Rotterdam, 1932), 150, however, did indicate the extr influence of Titian’s Portrait of “Ariosto” (National Gallery, London, list no. 1944) ~ above Rembrandt’s 1659 Self-Portrait. The illusionistic format of self-portraiture was put in the paper definition of the northern portrait heritage by Stephanie Dickey throughout a Rembrandt symposium organized at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, in January 1992. possibly at this later on moment that his life he was drawn to Raphael’s painting due to the fact that of that is self-contained composition, which the must have felt appropriate for express the quiet intensity v which he wished to imbue his self-portrait; perhaps he psychic the subdued colour of Castiglione’s costume or the effective means in i beg your pardon Raphael offered the beret to structure his head. Clearly Rembrandt has adapted all of these aspects of Raphael’s painting in his self-portrait, while at the very same time transforming the nature that his image through dramatic light effects and also the well-off impastos that his paint.

Most fundamentally, however, Rembrandt returned to Raphael’s prototype due to the fact that he found in the a vehicle for expressing his tardy of himself as a learned painter, a template that in one means or another underlies a number of his so late self-portraits, specifically his magnificent paintings in the Frick Collection, c. 1658,<12> <12>See inventory no. 06.1.97, native the Frick Collection, brand-new York. And in the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood, c. 1665.<13> <13>See inventory no. 57, native the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood. In all three of these functions Rembrandt tasks a strikingly positive self-image, in i m sorry allusions come his self-esteem together an artist space conveyed with pose, costume, and also expression.

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<14> <14>For a conversation of various interpretations of these paints see H. Perry Chapman, Rembrandt’s Self-Portraits: A research in Seventeenth-Century identification (Princeton, 1990), 94–95, 97–101.