Rembrandt’s self-portraits: problems of authenticity and function

  • Ernst Van De Wetering
Part of the Rembrandt Research Project Foundation book series (RRSE, volume 4)


Surely, a self-portrait is autograph by definition. After all, only the painter, draughtsman or etcher can be responsible for registering his own image as observed in the mirror. Yet the issue of authenticity is as pressing with respect to Rembrandt’s self-portraits as it is with other paintings long attributed to the master. There are a number of reasons for this. The first is obvious: like any other painting, a self- portrait can be copied. This could take place in Rembrandt’s workshop or elsewhere, in the seventeenth century or later. We know that a number of copies of Rembrandt self-portraits were made in his workshop.1 Some early copies may have originated in other seventeenth-century workshops,2 while a far greater number must have been painted after his death and even into the twentieth century. As a rule, the later copies are more faithful than the earlier ones.3 Copies from Rembrandt’s workshop are free copies in the sense that they were painted more or less freehand and usually not made with the help of tracing or other methods of transferring an image. They can also be called free because the makers did not try to literally imitate the brushwork of the prototype, as one finds in later copies. The brushwork in such paintings can be spontaneous, so much so, in fact, that should the prototype be lost (or erroneously considered a copy), a copy may have taken its place (see figs. 1 and 2 and IV Corrigenda I A 22, see also I A 14).
Fig. 1.

Rembrandt workshop, copy after fig. 2, c. 1629, panel 37.9×28.9 cm. The Hague, Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen, Mauritshuis (IV Corrigenda I A 21). For a colour reproduction see fig. 136.

Fig. 2.

Rembrandt, ‘Tronie’ with Rembrandt’s features, c. 1629, panel 38×30.9 cm. Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum (IV Corrigenda I A 21). For a colour reproduction see fig. 135.


National Gallery Metropolitan Museum Portrait Painter Function Chapter Present Painting 
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    See E. Norgate, Miniatura or the art of limning, 1627/28, revised in 1648, ed. 1997 J.M. Muller and J. Murrell, esp. p. 109, notes 67, 311, Appendix 2, p. 238; Van de Wetering 1997, Chapter III, pp. 46-73.Google Scholar
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    There are several characteristics of the Amsterdam Bust of a young man laughing that argue strongly against an attribution to Rembrandt. These concern both the stylistic aspects (particularly the handling of light and the way of dealing with contours) and the features of physiognomy. In addition, there is a puzzling technical aspect. In the handling of light it is striking that the highlights on the forehead have virtually the same intensity as the light on the chin; whereas it is characteristic of Rembrandt that he reliably ensured that the light intensity decreased from forehead to chin. (This is the case even in the Indianapolis painting, see fig. 123, where the head is so tilted that the chin projects prominently.) In the Laughing soldier in The Hague (see fig. 128), this gradient in the light value is emphasized, ensuring that the effect of the light as a whole is intensified. The manner in which the highlights in the Bust of a young man laughing, dabbingly applied, are evenly and, as it were, superficially attached to the flesh tones in the lit part and not, as in Rembrandt, integrated with the brushwork, thus also argues against the attribution to Rembrandt. The treatment of light on the lit shoulder in the Amsterdam painting similarly suggests that it has been ill thought out. There is no evident logic in the way the light value diminishes from the brown collar to the shoulder, while the indifferent contour of the shoulder in question also contributes to a general lack of any effect of plasticity in this passage. As far as the physiognomy is concerned, the large chin with its short beard is conspicuous, as is the knob of the nose. These are features that point more in the direction of Jan Lievens as the figure portrayed than toward Rembrandt. The same physiognomic features are evident in the large London Self-portrait of Lievens from the late thirties in which, furthermore, one can also see on the lit side the almost horizontal fold of skin running from the eye socket and bending upwards in the middle of the forehead (Sumowski Gemälde III, no. 1289). The first two of these features and the small beard can also be clearly seen in Lievens’ early Self-portrait in profile in Copenhagen (Sumowski Gemälde III, no. 1258). The posture of the figure in the Amsterdam painting under discussion with its outstretched neck and prominent Adam’s apple would appear to have been typical of Jan Lievens. Compare the self-portraits already mentioned and the portrait of Jan Lievens by Antonie van Dyck for the Iconographie. The young man playing the harp in Rembrandt’s Musical Allegory in Amsterdam (I A 7), convincingly identified by Henry Defoer as Jan Lievens in O.H. (91) 1977, p. 18, in addition to several other physiognomic features mentioned earlier also displays this idiosyncratic posture. This is also true of the painter in the drawing of a painter in his studio in the J.P. Getty Museum (Ben. 390) who, the present author is convinced, can be identified as Jan Lievens, see E. van de Wetering, ‹Leidse schilders achter de ezel›, in: exhib. cat. Geschildert tot Leyden anno 1626, ed. M.L. Wurfbain et al, Leiden De Lakenhai, 1976, pp. 21-31, esp. 29. The figure in this drawing, with its thrust foreward head and long chin, is also indicated as having a short beard. With regard to a technical singularity of the painting, in the Corpus text relating to this painting (I C 34), under Ground: scientific data Karin Groen observes that the top layer of the ground (the bottom layer is a normal chalk/glue layer) clearly deviates from the type of ground that one usually finds on Rembrandt’s panels, both in composition and colour. With this painting, the ground contains more chalk than usual and, as well as lead white, crude black pigment grains. One can only infer that this ground was grey and not the yellow-brown colour that was normal for Rembrandt’s panels (see Table II Grounds on panel, pp. 660 ff). As well as the physiognomic arguments, the stylistic arguments outlined above also argue for an attribution of the painting to Jan Lievens. The remarkable indifference to the potential of contours to suggest plasticity (which Rembrandt habitually employed so effectively and sensitively) is rather characteristic of Jan Lievens. Compare for example Sumowski Gemälde III, nos. 1236, 1255, 1259, 1260. This also holds for the latter’s usually unrefined use of the possibilities of the light. We know too little about Lievens’ preferences regarding the colour of the grounds of his panels to be able to draw any conclusion from the grey ground on this panel. The relation established by dendrochronology between the panel and the one on which the Nuremburg Self-portrait is painted makes an early dating (c. 1629/30), of the Amsterdam Bust of a young man laughing virtually unavoidable, but it does not exclude the possibility that we might be dealing here, if not with a work by Lievens himself, perhaps a copy originating in Lievens’ or Rembrandt’s studio (or their shared studio; see E. van de Wetering, ‘De symbiose van Lievens en Rembrandt’, in exhib. cat. Rembrandt & Lievens in Leiden, Leiden De Lakenhai 1991/92, pp. 39–47) of a lost prototype by Jan Lievens. In view of the above, we maintain our original standpoint that the Amsterdam Bust of a young man laughing was not painted by Rembrandt.Google Scholar
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    See also E. van de Wetering, ‘Rembrandt und das Licht’, in: exhib. cat. Rembrandt, Albertina, Vienna 2004, pp. 26–39, esp. 35–37.Google Scholar
  295. 365.
    Van de Wetering 1997, p. 188.Google Scholar
  296. 367.
    1655, dem Jahr vor dem finanziellen Zusammenbruch, Rembrandt im Pelzmantel mit goldener Kette. Er reckt sich auf wie jemand, der sich nicht beugen will. Es entsteht das majestätischte Rembrandtbildnis, aber nicht gebieterisch, sondern sein Schicksal verschlossen in sich tragend — weitab wie ein Berg im Abendschatten. Es ist als ob Rembrandt in eine Versammlung tritt, deren Teilnehmer eben noch mit Geschrei und Gelächter über ihn gespottet. Und plötzlich verstummen alle und erheben sich von den Sitzen.’ R. Hamann, Rembrandt, Berlin 1948, p. 122; F. Erpel quoted Hamann’s text with approval in his Die Selbstbildnisse Rembrandts, Berlin 1973, p. 190.Google Scholar
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    A notable exception is the Portrait of Catherina Hooghsaet (Br. 391).Google Scholar
  299. 370.
    Compare p. 16, figs. 18 and 17 of exhib. cat. Rembrandt by himself, 1999/2000.Google Scholar
  300. 371.
    Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit. 57, pp. 237/38 and 280; see also JA. Emmens, Rembrandt en de regels van de kunst, diss. 1964; edition used: Amsterdam 1979, pp. 165-169; see also H.W. Janson, ‘The “Image made by chance” in Renaissance thought’, in De Artibus Opuscola XL, Essays in honor of Erwin Panofsky, 1961, pp. 254-266.Google Scholar
  301. 372.
    E. van de Wetering, ‘Opmerkingen over de relatie tussen techniek, stijl en toeval bij Arent de Gelder; een vergelijking met Rembrandt’ in exhib. cat. Arent de Gelder, Rembrandts laatste leerling, Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht/Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Keulen, Gent (1998), pp. 18–35.Google Scholar
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    Houbraken, op. cit. 53, I, 1718, p. 269.Google Scholar
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    See for instance Strauss Doc, nos. 1642/10 and 1668/5.Google Scholar
  304. 375.
    K. van Mander, The lives of the illustrious Netherlandish and German painters, Vol. I, H. Miedema (ed.), Doornspijk 1994, fol. 214v/0. 117. ‘…[Lukas] was overal vergheselschapt met den verhaelden Jan de Mabuse den welken hem seer statigh en prachtigh droeg, hebbende aen een cleedt van goude laken en Lukas hadde aen eenen rock van ghele syden Cameloot, dat in de sonne oock eenen glans hadde als van gout’ (‘everywhere he was in the company of the aforementioned Jan de Mabuse, who acted in a very stately manner, resplendent in a garment of gold cloth, and Lucas wore a jerkin of yellow silk camlet which in the sunshine also had the lustre of gold’).Google Scholar
  305. 376.
    Van de Wetering 1997, pp. 173–179.Google Scholar
  306. 377.
    Tümpel 1986, cat. no. A 70 ‘from Rembrandt’s workshop’. Haverkamp Begemann expressed his doubts in an oral communicationGoogle Scholar
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    J. Boomgaard and R.W. Serieller, ‘A delicate balance: a brief survey of Rembrandt criticism’, in exhib. cat. Rembrandt. Paintings, 1991/92, p. 117.Google Scholar
  308. 380.
    Werner Sumowski, the most insistent of all the advocates of the authenticity of this painting, once apprised of a summary of our insights published in the IFAR Journal in a letter of 29.4.2002 wrote: ‘Your results regarding the Stuttgart painting are convincing. The reasoning leading to proof is compelling. I enjoy the fact that you have found the truth.’ (‘Ihre Ergebnisse zum Stuttgarter Gemälde sind überzeugend. Die Beweisführung ist zwingend. Ich freue mich, dass Sie die Wahrheit gefunden haben’.); E. van de Wetering ‘Thirty years of the Rembrandt Research Project: The Tension Between Science and Connoisseurship in Authenticating Art.’ in: IFAR Journal, International Foundation for Art Research, New York, vol. 4, no. 2, 2001, pp. 14–24.Google Scholar
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    C. Müller Hofstede, ‘Das Stuttgarter Selbstbildnis von Rembrandt’, Pantheon 21 (1963), pp. 65–90.Google Scholar
  310. 382.
    Es kann im Hinblick auf unsere Kenntniss von Rembrandts Spätstil nicht überraschen, daß jedes der Beispiele vom anderen abweicht und natürlich auch vom Stuttgarter Bild. Es ist der große Spielraum für verschiedenartige Ansätze bei seinen Konzeptionen, den sich Rembrandt in diesen Jahren geschaffen hat. Sie bewirken jene, den Betrachter oft verblüffende oder gar mißtrauisch stimmende Verschiedenheit. Seine von einigen Objekten gebildete Vorstellung paßt nicht zu neu auftauchenden Bildern: sie erweist sich als erstarrt und unelastisch.’, Das Stuttgarter Selbstbildnis von Rembrandt’, Pantheon 21 (1963) Müller Hofstede, op. cit. 381, pp. 82–83.Google Scholar
  311. 383.
    Dank der malerischen Eindringlichkeit strahlt von dem Stuttgarter Selbstbildnis eine alle anderen Schöpfungen überbietende Gegenwärtigkeit aus.’, Das Stuttgarter Selbstbildnis von Rembrandt’, Pantheon 21 (1963) Müller Hofstede, op. cit. 381, p. 86.Google Scholar
  312. 384.
    Eine ungewöhnlich gesteigerte Gelöstheit des Vortrags.’, Das Stuttgarter Selbstbildnis von Rembrandt’, Pantheon 21 (1963) Müller Hofstede, op. cit. 381, p. 79.Google Scholar
  313. 385.
    der Nachdruk, die Energie, womit die Physiognomie durchgeformt ist.’, Das Stuttgarter Selbstbildnis von Rembrandt’, Pantheon 21 (1963) Müller Hofstede, op. cit. 381, p. 79.Google Scholar
  314. 386.
    In kurz absetzenden und immer wieder ansetzenden Zügen, mehrfach überein-anderliegend oder den Malgrund freilassend und in die Bildwirkung mit einbeziehend, mit tiefen Dunkelheiten im Gefolge, haben wir ein pflügendes, knetendes Impasto vor uns, das, unterstützt durch das hier kulminierende Licht, mit ungewöhnlich plastischer Eindringlichkeit das Gesicht zum Bildnisdokument und Schwerpunkt eines vielfältigen und vertieften Ausdrucks macht.’, Das Stuttgarter Selbstbildnis von Rembrandt’, Pantheon 21 (1963) Müller Hofstede, op. cit. 381, p. 79.Google Scholar
  315. 387.
    etwas Schwermütiges, Sorgenvolles, wenn nicht Verhärmtes.’, Das Stuttgarter Selbstbildnis von Rembrandt’, Pantheon 21 (1963) Müller Hofstede, op. cit. 381, p. 86.Google Scholar
  316. 388.
    Das Kölner Bild ist in seiner Pinselschrift nicht so abwechlungsreich, gegenüber dem Stuttgarter eher monoton.’, Das Stuttgarter Selbstbildnis von Rembrandt’, Pantheon 21 (1963) Müller Hofstede, op. cit. 381, p. 84.Google Scholar
  317. 38.
    Houbraken, op. cit. 53, I, 1718, p. 269.Google Scholar
  318. 390.
    seine Bedeutung in unserem Zusammenhang ergibt sich aus einer völlig anderen Verhaltensweise des Künstlers. Statt sich abzuschliessen, öffnet sich Rembrandt dem Betrachter. Dazu gehört schon die zwanglose Art, wie er ins Bildfeld tritt, in schiefer Haltung, ohne Kontrapostische Wendung, als ob es soeben geschähe, und ohne daran etwas ändern zu wollen so wie es jeden Tag passieren könnte.’, Das Stuttgarter Selbstbildnis von Rembrandt’, Pantheon 21 (1963) Müller Hofstede, op. cit. 381, p. 86.Google Scholar
  319. 393.
    Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, p. 176. ‘De rechte meesters brengen te weeg, dat haer geheele werk eenwezich is, gelijk Clio uit Horatius leert: Brengyder werkstuk, zoo’ t behoort, / Slechts enkel en eenweezich voort.’Google Scholar
  320. 394.
    Horace Epistula ad Pisones (Ars Poetica) 23: ‘Denique sit quidvis, simplex dumtaxat et unum’. I am very grateful to Prof. Dr. D. den Hengst for his help.Google Scholar
  321. 395.
    A. Blankert, ‘Rembrandt, Zeuxis and ideal beauty’, Album Amicorum J.G. van Gelder, The Hague 1973, pp. 32–39. See also A. Blankert, in: exhib. cat. Rembrandt. A genius and his impact, 1997/98, pp. 38/39 and A. Blankert, Selected writings on Dutch painting: Rembrandt, Van Beke, Vermeer and others, Zwolle 2004.Google Scholar
  322. 396.
    See Strauss Doc., 1661/5 in which document only the canvas for the painting is mentioned; 1662/11, in which document the painting is referred to as ‘half complete’; the finished painting was signed and dated 1663.Google Scholar
  323. 397.
    Ernst H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion. A study in the psychology of pictorial representation, London 1960 (1990), part III, p. 153.Google Scholar
  324. 398.
    Hans-Jörg Czech, Studien zu Samuel van Hoogstratens Malereitraktat ‘Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst: Anders de Zichtbaere Werelt (Rotterdam 1678)’, doct. diss. Bonn 1999, pp. 9–11.Google Scholar
  325. 399.
    McKim-Smith noticed the same phenomenon in her study of the relationship between Spanish treatises on painting and the studio practice of the painters concerned. See ‘Writing and painting in the age of Velasquez’ in Gridley McKim-Smith et al., Examining Velasquez, New Haven/ London 1988, pp. 1–33.Google Scholar
  326. 400.
    Mayerne in: E. Berger (ed.), Quellen für Maltechnik während der Renaissance und deren Folgezeit, Munich 1901, reprint 1973, p. 95.Google Scholar
  327. 401.
    Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, pp. 26–30, esp. 27/28.Google Scholar
  328. 402.
    Gombrich, op. cit.397, p. 153.Google Scholar
  329. 403.
    Maar boven al dient zy tot de Schilderkonst, waer van zy zoo onafscheydelijk is, dat de Schilderkonst, zonder haer, niet alleen gebrekkelijk, maer geheelijk doot en gansch niet is.’ Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, p. 26.Google Scholar
  330. 404.
    ‘… vermits het oud en algemeen gevoelen is, datter meer Schilders zyn, die’t aen’t wel teykenen, als aen’t wel koloreeren gebreekt.’ Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, p. 26.Google Scholar
  331. 405.
    Want gy zulfer [in een schetsmatig opgezet werk] deelen in vinden, die rondachtich, vierkantich, driehoekich, langwerpich, of schuins van form zyn. Merk deeze gedaentens dan met een half schermerend oog aen, zonder op eenige kleinicheden te letten.’ Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, p. 27.Google Scholar
  332. 406.
    ‘… deeze manier van in’tgros te schetssen’ Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, p. 27.Google Scholar
  333. 407.
    ‘… even gelijk men zijn vriend van verre bespeurende, of by schemerlicht ontmoetende, strax als met het verstant zijn gedaente ziet, en bevat, zoo geeft een ruwe schets dikwils aen den kenders zoo grooten indruk, dat zy’er meer, dan dieze gemaekt heeft, in zien kunnen.’ Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, p. 27. Given Van Hoogstraten’s scepticism regarding the connoisseurs and art-lovers of his time, one is tempted to read a certain irony into the last words of this passage. See Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, S. van Hoogstraeten, Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst, Rotterdam 1678, in ‘aen de lezer’ also pp. 2, 3, 35, 76, 85, 127, 171/72, 183, 196/97, 216, 234,241, 309–21, 360; see also E. van de Wetering, ‘Rembrandt’s’ Satire on Art Criticism’ reconsidered’, in: Shop Talk. Studies in Honor of Seymour Slive, (eds. Cynthia P. Schneider, William W. Robinson, Alice I. Davies e.a.), Cambridge, Mass. 1995, pp. 264-270. It is more likely, however, that he is describing in a neutral fashion a property of human perception.Google Scholar
  334. 408.
    Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, pp. 307–308.Google Scholar
  335. 409.
    E. van de Wetering, ‘Rembrandt’s method — technique in the service of illusion’, in exhib. cat. Rembrandt. Paintings, 1991/92, pp. 12–39, esp. 32–37; Van de Wetering 1997, pp. 173-179.Google Scholar
  336. 410.
    See Van de Wetering 1997, p. 185–186.Google Scholar
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    See, for instance, B. Schnackenburg, ‘Young Rembrandt’s ldRough Manner”. A painting style and its sources’, in exhib. cat. The mystery of the young Rembrandt, 2001/02, pp. 92–121.Google Scholar
  338. 412.
    Wat is % als gy op blaeuw papier een blaeuwen Hemel met drijvende wölken in’ t veld na’ t leven tekent, dat uw papier zoo na by u schijnt te zijn, en het Hemelsch lazuur zo oneindelijk verre?’ Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, p. 307.Google Scholar
  339. 413.
    ’t Is om dat uw papier, hoe effen gy’ t ook oordeelt, een zekere kenbaere rulheyt heeft, waer in het oog staeren kan, ter plaetse, daer gy wilt,’ t welk gy in’ t gladde blaeuw des Hemels niet dorn en kunt.’ Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, pp. 307–308.Google Scholar
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    According to the Dictionary of the Dutch Language/Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (WNT), in the seventeenth century the word ‘staeren’ (to stare) carried more the meaning of looking with concentrated atten-tion than it does today, when ‘stare’ tends to suggest a fixed, somewhat unfocused looking. Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie, Leiden, Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (WNT), 29 vols., The Hague 1864–1998, lemma ‘staren’.Google Scholar
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    Dr. Jan Walraven, Senior Research Fellow of the TNO-Human Factors Institute, Soesterberg, The Netherlands, was kind enough to give the following information: ‘Studies on visual attention and space perception suggest various explanations for the effect of a Ifelike, almost forced (spatial) presence in the Kenwood Self-portrait. First, one of the various, so-called monocular cues that the visual system employs to derive the relative distances of objects in a visual scene, is the degree of detail by which these are registered in the retinal image.’ (See C.H. Graham, ‘Visual space perception’, in C.H. Graham (ed.), Vision and visual perception, New York 1965, pp. 504–547.) ‘This is particularly true for the loss of detail in surface texture with increasing distance. Second, in attempting to focus the optical image properly, the eye will hunt for critical details in the visual scene, a similar process that occurs when one tries to get a slide focussed on a projection screen. Last, but not least, there is also the aspect of mental focus, the mind’s eye, which is attracted by details contrasting with the more roughly painted surround. All these effects work in the direction of locking the viewer’s eye on to the face in the portrait, and making this face manifest itself in an inescapable manner.’Google Scholar
  342. 416.
    Van de Wetering 1997, pp 182–186.Google Scholar
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    Berger (ed.), op. cit.400, p. 289.Google Scholar
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    P. Taylor, ‘The glow in late sixteenth and seventeenth century Dutch painting’, in Hermens (ed.), ‘Looking through paintings: The study of painting technique and materials in support of art historical research’, Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarhoek 11 (1998), pp. 159–178. See also Eric Jan Sluijter, ‘Goltzius, painting and flesh (…)’, in: The learned eye (…). Essays for Ernst van de Wetering, Amsterdam 2005, pp. 158–177.Google Scholar
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    ’t Is dan niet genoeg, dat men schoone kleuren menget, maer men moet de waere natuerlijkheyt naspeuren.’ Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, p. 227.Google Scholar
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    ’Ik zwijge van Rembrant en andere, die dit konstdeel [een natuerlijke karnatie] wonderlijk hoog achten. Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, p. 228.Google Scholar
  347. 421.
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  348. 422.
    See E. van de Wetering 1997, pp. 173–186.Google Scholar
  349. 423.
    Compare also: exhib. cat. Rembrandt/not Rembrandt, 1995/96, I figs. 68 and 70.Google Scholar
  350. 424.
    Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Mit Haut und Haaren, Jan van Eycks Adam und Eva Tafeln in Gent — Rezeption, Bedeutung und Maltechnik des Aktes in der frühniederländischen Malerei, doct. diss. Utrecht 2004, pp. 78–85.Google Scholar
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    In the French translation by Hubeaux and Puraye the relevant passage reads: ‘Cette ingénieuse imitation des différentes couleurs ne va pas sans donner quelque dureté aux pigments, laquelle rugosité doit être appropriée à la brillante figuration des pores de chacun des corps qu’il s’agit de représenter’. See Jean Hubeaux, Jean Puraye, ‘Dominique Lampson, Lamberti Lombardi … Vita. Traduction et notes’, Revue Belge d’Archéologie et d’Histoire de l’Art 18 (1949), p. 71. Lehmann raises the question of whether Lambert Lombard (or Lampsonius) could have based these ideas (on the mimetic rendering of the skin by means of pigment granules ground to a size corresponding to that of the epidermal pores) on Titian, who was highly admired in the sixteenth century for his ability to render the human flesh. She concludes, however, that the written sources give no indication that Titian might have availed himself of this method. Investigation of Titian’s paintings also yield no evidence for his having entertained this possibility as explicitly as did Lampsonius/Lombard. See Lehmann, op. Cit.424, Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Mit Haut und Haaren, Jan van Eycks Adam und Eva Tafeln in Gent — Rezeption, Bedeutung und Maltechnik des Aktes in der frühniederländischen Malerei, doct. diss. Utrecht 2004, pp. 78–85 p. 80 and notes 416–419.Google Scholar
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    Vasari, Le vite … (the life of Leonardo da Vinci).Google Scholar
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    ‘… men speurde de zueetgaetjes in het teedere vel’. Van Hoogstraeten, op. cit.57, p. 239.Google Scholar
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    A. Bredius, ‘Uit Rembrandt’s laatste levensjaar’, O.H. 27 (1909), pp. 238–240.Google Scholar
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    For Dirck van Cattenburgh and other art-lovers mentioned below who knew Rembrandt personally, see J. van der Veen, ‘Het netwerk van verzamelaars rondom Rembrandt’, in B. van den Boogert (ed.), Rembrandts schatkamer, Amsterdam/Zwolle 1999, pp. 141–145.Google Scholar
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  357. 431.
    Strauss Doc., 1658/22. The date of the document is mistaken by Strauss and Van der Meulen. According to Jaap van der Veen it should be 1685 (oral communication).Google Scholar

Early references to self-portraits by Rembrandt N.B. Where references to e.g. ‘een conterfeytsel van Rembrandt’ (‘a portrait of/by Rembrandt’) are not further identified, these are not included.

  1. [1]
    In the inventory of the collection of Charles I of England drawn up by Abraham van der Doort in 1639 there is mentioned: ‘The picture done by Rembrant. being his owne picture & done by himself in a Black capp and furrd habbitt with a litle goulden chaîne uppon both his Shouldrs In an Ovall and a square black frame.’ I A 33; Strauss Doc., 1639/11. (See Chapter III fig. 143) Google Scholar
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    In the will of Abraham Bartje(n)s: ‘Twee efigien van den constrijcken schilder Rembrandt met sijn vrouw’ (Two portraits of the artistic painter Rembrandt and his wife) GAA, not. P. van Velsen, NA 1785, fol. 396, dd. 14th December 1648; Strauss Doc. 1648/7.Google Scholar
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    In the inventory of the Amsterdam merchant, art dealer and collector Johannes de Renialme of 1657: ‘[No.] 292 Rembrants contrefeytsel anteycke f 150:-:-’ (No. 292 Rembrandt’s portrait à l’antique f 150:-:-) III A 139; GAA, not. F. Uyttenbogaert, NA 1915, pp. 663–692, dd. 27th June 1657, esp. 671; Strauss Doc., 1657/2. [N.B. Estimated by the painter Adam Camerarius and the collector-dealer Marten Kretzer] (See Chapter III fig. 242) Google Scholar
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    The inventory of Rembrandt’s daughter-in-law, Titus’ widow Magdalena van Loo, of c. 21th October 1669 lists: ‘Een conterfeytsel van des overledens schoonvader’ (A portrait of the father-in-law of the deceased) HdG Urk., no. 310.Google Scholar
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    In the list of paintings purchased by Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici between 1663 and 1671 mention is made of a: ‘Ritratto di Rembrans Fiammingo’ (Portrait of Rembrandt the Fleming) In the Inventario Generale de Quadri […] and K. Langedijk, Die Selbstbildnisse der holländischen und flämischen Künstler in der Galleria degli Autoritratti der Uffizien in Florenz, Florence 1992, p. 151. (See cat. no. IV 28) Google Scholar
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    In the inventory drawn up on 3rd January 1677 at Alkmaar listing the contents of the house of the painter (and possibly Rembrandt’s pupil) Lambert Doomer, there occurs: ‘Rembrants conterfeytsel’ (Portrait of Rembrandt) Th. Wortel, ‘Lambert Doomer te Alkmaar’, O.H. 46 (1929), pp. 171–187, esp. 176. [N.B. This entry occurs among a number of works by Doomer; so that the portrait concerned could therefore be from the latter’s hand.]Google Scholar
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    In the inventory of the house contents of Adriana van Gheyn, the widow of Louis Crayers [guardian of Titus]: ‘Een conterfeytsel van Rembrand van Rijn en zijn vrouw’ (A portrait of Rembrandt van Rijn and his wife) GAA, not. A. Lock, NA 2262(B), pp. 1090–1116, dd. 4th August 1677, esp. 1100; HdG Urk., no. 336.Google Scholar
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    Among the copper plates in Clement de Jonghe’s (d. 1677) print shop, under the heading ‘Rembrants’ were found: ‘[No.] 13 Conterf. van Rembr.’ ‘[ No.] 71 Rembrant selvs’ GAA, not. J. Backer, NA 4528, pp. 117–146, dd. 11 februari 1679, i.h.b. pp. 137 and 138; HdG Urk., no. 346.Google Scholar
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    In 1683 recorded in the collection of the French King Louis XIV in Paris as purchased in 1671 from Sr. de la Feuille. No. 318: ‘Un tableau de Raimbault représentant son portrait tenant une pallette de la main gauche et son appuy main de la droite avec une coëffe sur la teste’. (A painting of Rembrandt, showing his portrait holding a palette in his left hand and his maul-stick in the right, with a cap on his head) M. Le Brun, Inventaire des Tableaux du Cabinet du Roy, Paris 1683. (See cat. no. IV 19) Google Scholar
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    Dirck van Cattenburgh in 1685 was in possession of: ‘Een stuck schilderij sijnde een tronye door Rembrant nae hem selven geschildert, daerom is een platte gestroyde vergulde lijste’ (A painting, being a tronie by Rembrandt painted after himself, surrounded by a flat, sprinkled, gilt frame) GAA, not. J. de Hué, NA 5528(B), dd. 1st December 1685; Strauss Doc., 1658 [sic]/22.Google Scholar
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    At an anonymous sale in Amsterdam on 9th April 1687, was sold: ‘No. 100. Van Rembrant, zyn eygen Conterfeytsel f 6:-:-’ (Rembrandt’s self-portrait 6 guilders) Hoet I, p. 10, no. 100; HdG Urk., no. 362.Google Scholar
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    In the inventory of house contents of Willem Spieringh in Delft: ‘No. 48 Een trony van Rembrant sijnde sijn contrefeytsel’ (A tronie by Rembrandt being his portrait) GADelft, not. W. van Ruyven, NA 2290, deed 18, dd. 31st March 1689; HdG Urk., no. 364.Google Scholar
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    In the inventory of the collector from Cologne, Eberhard Jabach, Paris 17th July 1696: ‘Nr. 123 Portrait de Rimbrands, ayant un linge blanc autour de sa teste, 1/2 figure grande comme le naturel, de luy-mesme. 100 livfres]’. (Portrait of Rembrandt by himself, with a white linen cloth round his head, half-figure, life-sized. 100 pounds) Vicomte de Grouchy in Memoires de la Société de l’Histoire de Paris 21 (1894), p. 255. (See cat no. IV 24) Google Scholar
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    At an anonymous sale on 10th June 1705 was sold: ‘Rembrants Conterfeytsel, op zijn Persiaen, door hem geschildert f 59:-:-’ (Portrait of Rembrandt in Persian costume, painted by himself, 59 guilders) Hoet I, p. 79, no. 30; probably indentical with Br. 16 (Corpus I A 40) Google Scholar
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    In the printed sale catalogue of Jan de Wale, heer van Ankeveen (Amsterdam 12th May 1706) is found: ‘Nr. 27 Rembrants Conterfeytzel, door hem geschildert’ (Portrait of Rembrandt painted by himself) Lugt 200, p. 2, no. 27.Google Scholar
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    On 18th March 1711 the German Zacharias von Uffenbach saw at Sieuwert van der Schelling in Amsterdam: ‘ein unvergleichlich Porträt ganz gross von Rembrandt durch ihn selbst gemahlt, welches gewiss bewunderns werth ist, und nicht genug kan betrachtet werden’ (an incomparable, very large portrait of Rembrandt painted by himself, so admirable one cannot gaze on it enough) Z.C. von Uffenbach, Merkwürdige Reisen durch Niedersachsen, Holland und Engeland, 3 vols., Frankfurt/Leipzig/Ulm 1753-1754, esp. vol. III, p. 647; HdG Urk., no. 393.Google Scholar
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    At an anonymous sale on Amsterdam on 6th May 1716 was sold: ‘Zijn eygen Portrait van dito [Rembrandt] f 20:-:-(His own portrait by the same [Rembrandt] 20 guilders) Hoet I, p. 198, no. 91.Google Scholar
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    Arnold Houbraken mentions in 1718: ‘Onder een menigte van roemwaardige pourtretten die hy [Rembrandt] gemaakt heeft, is’ser een geweest by den Heere Jan van Beuningen, dat hy naar zyn eigen wezen had geschildert,’ t geen zoo konstig en kraftig uitgewerkt was, dat het kragtigste penceelwerk van Van Dyk, en Rubbens daar by niet kon halen, ja het hooft scheen uit het stuk te steken, en de aanschouwers aan te spreken.’ (Among many portraits deserving of fame that he [Rembrandt] made, there was one belonging to Heere Jan van Beuningen that he had painted of himself, which was so skilfully and artfully worked out that even the best brushwork of Van Dyck and Rubens could not match it; yes, the head seemed to emerge from the painting and speak to the viewers.) A. Houbraken, De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschildersen schilderessen, 3 vols., Amsterdam 1718-1721, esp. vol. I, p. 269.Google Scholar
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    On 6th August 1722, at the sale of William van Huls: ‘Rembrandt-His own Picture’ was purchased by Thomas Brodrick for £ 80 F. Simpson, ‘Dutch paintings in England before 1760’, Burl. Mag. 95 (1953), pp. 39–42, esp. 41.Google Scholar
  20. [27]
    The following entry appears on an undated list of paintings from the first quarter of the eighteenth century concerning one ‘mevrouw van Sonsbeek’: ‘No. 38 Het portrait van Rembrandt door hem selfs f 50:-:-’ ( Portrait of Rembrandt by himself 50 guilders) A. Bredius, ‘Eenige taxaties van schilderijen in de XVIIe en in het begin der XVIIIe eeuw’, O.H. 24 (1906), pp. 236–241, esp. 238. [N.B. Estimated by the painter Anthony de Waardt]Google Scholar
  21. [28]
    In the inventory of house contents of Catharina Grypestar (The Hague 1731/2) is found: ‘Het portrait van Rembrandt door hem zelf geschildert f 80:-:-’ (The portrait of Rembrandt painted by himself f80:-:-) Br. Künstl-Inv., p. 957. [N.B. without citation of source] [N.B. Estimated by the painter and art dealer Jacques de Roore]Google Scholar

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© Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernst Van De Wetering

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