Admission is always free Directions

Open today: 10:00 to 5:00

Reader Mode

Cut-and-paste citation text:

Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., “Rembrandt van Rijn/Self-Portrait/1659,” Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century, NGA Online Editions, (accessed October 27, 2016).


Export as PDF

Export from an object page includes entry, notes, images, and all menu items except overview and related contents.
Export from an artist page includes image if available, biography, notes, and bibliography.
Note: Exhibition history, provenance, and bibliography are subject to change as new information becomes available.

Version Link
Apr 24, 2014 Version
Jan 01, 1995 Version

You may download complete editions of this catalog from the catalog’s home page.


After learning the fundamentals of drawing and painting in his native Leiden, Rembrandt van Rijn went to Amsterdam in 1624 to study for six months with Pieter Lastman (1583–1633), a famous history painter. Upon completion of his training Rembrandt returned to Leiden. Around 1632 he moved to Amsterdam, quickly establishing himself as the town’s leading artist. He received many commissions for portraits and attracted a number of students who came to learn his method of painting.

Rembrandt painted, drew, and etched so many self-portraits in his lifetime that changes in his appearance invite us to gauge his moods by comparing one image to another. Such a biographical reading is encouraged by the way in which the artist confronts the viewer directly. Rembrandt painted this self-portrait in 1659, after he had suffered financial failure despite so many years of success. His spacious house on the Sint-Anthonisbreestraat and other possessions had been auctioned the previous year to satisfy his creditors. In this late work, the deep-set eyes that bore into those of the viewer seem to express inner strength and dignity. Interpreting paintings on the basis of an artist’s biography is nevertheless dangerous, particularly with an artist whose life has been romanticized to the extent that Rembrandt’s has.

The light that so effectively illuminates the head also accents Rembrandt’s left shoulder and, to a lesser extent, his broadly executed clasped hands. Rembrandt’s pose was inspired by Raphael’s famous portrait of Balthasar Castiglione, which had appeared in an auction in Amsterdam in 1639. Following Raphael’s prototype, Rembrandt used the pose, costume, and expression to present himself as a learned painter.


The face is familiar, as is the penetrating gaze with which the sitter stares directly out at the viewer. No question, it is Rembrandt, late in his life, at a time when he has suffered through the cruel indignities of failure after so many years of success. Indeed, this portrait, painted in 1659, dates to the year after Rembrandt’s possessions and his house on the Sint-Anthonisbreestraat had been auctioned as a result of his insolvency. It may well have been one of the first works he painted in the small house on the Rozengracht, in the painters’ quarter of Amsterdam, where he had moved when his fortunes and his prospects were at low ebb. In the following year Rembrandt set up a business agreement with his son Titus and Hendrickje Stoffels, the artist’s companion in the last decades of his life, that prevented him from being sued by any of his dissatisfied creditors for recovery of debts.[1]

Rightly or wrongly it seems almost impossible to ponder this work without interpreting it in light of what is known about Rembrandt’s life. This inclination is felt in part because of the extensive biographical information that has come down to us, through which we we are able to feel a closer contact with the man and his life than we do with most artists of this period. It also seems possible to interpret Rembrandt’s mood in such paintings because he painted, drew, and etched so many self-portraits that changes in his appearance can be measured and analyzed by comparing one to another. Even more significantly, however, we read these images biographically because Rembrandt forces us to do so. He looks out at us and confronts us directly. His deep-set eyes peer intently. They appear steady, yet heavy and not without sadness. As Hofstede de Groot remarked in reference to this painting when it was shown in the 1898 Rembrandt exhibition in Amsterdam, “It would be difficult to find in any of his paintings a pair of eyes that peer at us more sharply or penetratingly.”[2] Émile Michel, in his review of the exhibition, was even more expressive about the forcefulness of Rembrandt’s gaze through the heavy wrinkles that had come to age his face so prematurely.[3]

While the observations of Hofstede de Groot and Michel seem entirely appropriate to the image, too often this painting has been subjected to overly romantic interpretations, in which authors have tried to read into this somber image Rembrandt’s own reflections upon the profound tragedy of his life.[4] Interpreting paintings on the basis of an artist’s biography is dangerous, particularly with an artist whose life has been romanticized to the extent that Rembrandt’s has been.[5] In this instance the inclination to interpret this image as a tragic one was reinforced by the thick layers of discolored varnish that had given the portrait a heavy, brooding quality. With the removal of the discolored varnish during restoration in 1992, the fallacy of such interpretations became particularly apparent. With the rich range of pinks and other flesh tones on his face once again visible, Rembrandt’s state of mind seems to have improved remarkably. While the thick impastos and bold strokes he used to model his face still create the dynamic vigor of the head, apparent now as well is the economy with which Rembrandt handled his paint: he has allowed a greenish gray Imprimatura layer to read as the shadowed area around the eyes. Finally, the firmness of his touch is accented by the wiry rhythms in his mustache and in the hair protruding from under his beret, which he has delineated by scratching the wet paint with the blunt end of his brush.

An added benefit from the restoration was the removal of Overpaint that had flattened the appearance of Rembrandt’s torso. With the three-dimensional character of this portion of the painting restored, the head seems far more firmly planted on the body than it had previously. The light that so effectively illuminates the head now also accents Rembrandt’s left shoulder and, to a lesser extent, his broadly executed clasped hands. The X-radiograph [see X-radiography] of the head, which reveals the vigorous, almost sculptural character of Rembrandt’s handling of paint, also indicates, through the density of the paint in the beret, that Rembrandt initially painted the beret a different color [fig. 1]. It may well have been white, for the upper ridges of a whitish paint layer can be seen through the overlying black paint.

Although Rembrandt’s pose seems so appropriate to the forcefulness of his gaze, quite surprisingly, it was inspired by Raphanel’s portrait of Balthasar Castiglione [fig. 2]. The memory of Castiglione’s direct gaze and clasped hands, which Rembrandt first saw when the painting appeared in an auction in Amsterdam on April 19, 1639, must have remained deeply ingrained in his mind for the intervening twenty years.[6] This famous work had made a tremendous impact on Rembrandt, for he even made a rough sketch after it at the sale (Albertina, Vienna).[7] In that same year, 1639, Rembrandt etched a self-portrait that was in part inspired by Raphael’s image and in part by Titian’s portrait, then known as Ariosto, which was in Amsterdam in the Alfonso Lopez Collection (National Gallery, London).[8] In the following year, 1640, Rembrandt painted a self-portrait (National Gallery, London)[9] that reflected in composition and intellectual concept both the Raphael's Balthasar Castiglione and Titian’s Ariosto. In this 1640 Self-Portrait, Rembrandt, dressed in a fanciful historicizing costume, portrayed himself with all of the elegance and dignity of the renowned Renaissance men of letters thought to have been depicted by Raphael (Marchigian, 1483 - 1520) and Titian (Venetian, 1488/1490 - 1576).[10]

In Rembrandt’s 1659 Self-Portrait, all compositional references to Titian’s portrait have disappeared, particularly the stone parapet upon which the artist rests his arm in the 1639 etching and the 1640 painting.[11] Perhaps at this later moment of his life he was drawn to Raphael’s painting because of its self-contained composition, which he must have felt appropriate for expressing the quiet intensity with which he wished to imbue his self-portrait; perhaps he remembered the subdued colors of Castiglione’s costume or the effective way in which Raphael used the beret to frame his head. Clearly Rembrandt has adapted all of these aspects of Raphael’s painting in his self-portrait, while at the same time transforming the nature of his image through dramatic light effects and the rich impastos of his paint.

Most fundamentally, however, Rembrandt returned to Raphael’s prototype because he found in it a vehicle for expressing his perception of himself as a learned painter, a theme that in one way or another underlies a number of his late self-portraits, particularly his magnificent paintings in the Frick Collection, c. 1658,[12] and in the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood, c. 1665.[13] In all three of these works Rembrandt projects a strikingly positive self-image, in which allusions to his self-esteem as an artist are conveyed through pose, costume, and expression.[14]

Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.

April 24, 2014


center left: Rembrandt f. 1659



Purchased by George Brudenell, 4th earl of Cardigan [1712-1790, later George Montagu, duke of Montagu (new creation)], Montagu House, Whitehall, London, by 1767;[1] by inheritance to his daughter and sole heiress, Elizabeth, duchess of Buccleuch [1743-1827, née Lady Elizabeth Montagu, wife of Henry Scott, 3rd duke of Buccleuch and 5th duke of Queensberry, 1746-1812], Montagu House; by descent through the dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry to John Charles Montagu, 7th duke of Buccleuch and 9th duke of Queensberry [1864-1935], Montagu House; sold 1928 to (P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., New York), on joint account with (M. Knoedler & Co., New York);[2] sold January 1929 to Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 28 December 1934 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.

Exhibition History
Exhibition of the Works of the Old Masters. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1872, no. 181.
Rembrandt. Collection des oeuvres des maîtres réunies, à l'occasion de l'inauguration de S. M. la Reine Wilhelmine, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1898, no. 102.
Exhibition of Works by Rembrandt. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1899, no. 6.
A Loan Exhibition of Sixteen Masterpieces, Knoedler Galleries, New York, January 1930, no. 8.
The Thirteenth Loan Exhibition of Old Masters: Paintings by Rembrandt, The Detroit Institute of Arts, May 1930, no. 62.
Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Etchings by Rembrandt and His Circle, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1935-1936, no. 6.
Rembrandt Tentoonstelling, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1935, no. 26.
Masterpieces of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300-1800, New York World's Fair, 1939, no. 307.
Rembrandt in the National Gallery of Art [Commemorating the Tercentenary of the Artist's Death], National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1969, no. 19, repro.
Masterpieces of Western European Painting of the XVIth-XXth Centuries from the Museums of the European Countries and USA, State Hermitage Museum, Leningrad, 1989, no. 13, repro.
Dutch Art and Scotland: A Reflection of Taste, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1992, no. 53, repro.
Rembrandt: His Pupils and Followers, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 1996, unnumbered brochure, repro.
Rembrandt By Himself, The National Gallery, London; Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1999-2000, no. 73, repro.
Rembrandt: Dipinti, incisioni e riflessi sul '600 e '700 italiano, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome, 2002-2003, no. 6D, repro. on title page.
Rembrandt's People, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, 2009-2010, brochure no. 3, repro. and cover.
Rembrandt in America, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Cleveland Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2011-2012, no. 34, pl. 9.
Rembrandt: The Late Works, National Gallery, London; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2014-2015, no. 2, repro.
Bikker, Jonathan, and Gregor J.M. Weber. Rembrandt: The Late Works. Exh. cat. National Gallery, London; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. London, 2014: no. 2, 46, repro. (detail) 46, repro. 47, 297.
Manuscript list of pictures at Montagu House, Whitehall. Boughton House, Northamptonshire, 1770: unpaginated.
Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 7(1836): 88, no. 215.
Vosmaer, Carel. Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn, sa vie et ses œuvres. The Hague, 1868: 493.
Royal Academy of Arts. Exhibition of Old Masters and by Deceased Masters of the British School. Exh. cat. Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1872: no. 181.
Vosmaer, Carel. Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn: sa vie et ses oeuvres. 2nd ed. The Hague, 1877: 358, 560.
Bode, Wilhelm von. Studien zur Geschichte der holländischen Malerei. Braunschweig, 1883: 542, 585, no. 197.
Dutuit, Eugène. Tableaux et dessins de Rembrandt: catalogue historique et descriptif; supplément à l'Oeuvre complet de Rembrandt. Paris, 1885: no. 43, 61, 70, no. 165.
Wurzbach, Alfred von. Rembrandtgalerie. Stuttgart, 1886: no. 160.
Champlin, John Denison, Jr., and Charles C. Perkins, eds. Cyclopedia of painters and paintings. 4 vols. New York, 1887: 4:24.
Michel, Émile. Rembrandt: Sa vie, son oeuvre et son temps. Paris, 1893: 557.
Michel, Émile. Rembrandt: His Life, His Work, and His Time. 2 vols. Translated by Florence Simmonds. New York, 1894: 2:235.
Bode, Wilhelm von, and Cornelis Hofstede de Groot. The Complete Work of Rembrandt. 8 vols. Translated by Florence Simmonds. Paris, 1897-1906: 6:3-14, no. 431, repro.
Moes, Ernst Wilhelm. Iconographia Batava. 2 vols. Amsterdam, 1897-1905: 2(1905):315, no. 60.
Hofstede de Groot, Comelis. Rembrandt: Collection des oeuvres du maître réunies, à l’occasion de l’inauguration de S. M. la Reine Wilhelmine. Exh. cat. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1898: no. 102.
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. De Rembrandt tentoonstelling te Amsterdam: 40 photogravures met tekst. Exh. cat. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1898: no. 33, repro.
McKay, Andrew. Catalogue of the pictures in Montagu House, belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch. London, 1898: 5, no. 12.
Michel, Émile. "L’Exposition Rembrandt à Amsterdam." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 20 (1898): 467-480.
Bell, Malcolm. Rembrandt van Rijn and His Work. London, 1899: 83-84, 145.
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Rembrandt. 26 Photogravures naar de beste schilderijen der tentoonstellingen te London en Amsterdam. Amsterdam, 1899: no. 33, repro.
Royal Academy of Arts. Exhibition of works by Rembrandt. Exh. cat. Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1899: 10, no. 6.
Neumann, Carl. Rembrandt. Berlin, 1902: 488.
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt: des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. Stuttgart, 1904: 217, 267, repro.
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1906: repro. 343, 404.
Veth, Jan. Rembrandt's Leven en Kunst. Amsterdam, 1906: 161-162.
Wurzbach, Alfred von. Niederlandisches Kunstler-Lexikon. 3 vols. Vienna, 1906-1911: 2(1910):402.
Bell, Malcolm. Rembrandt van Rijn. The great masters in painting and sculpture. London, 1907: 79, 126.
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 8 vols. Translated by Edward G. Hawke. London, 1907-1927: 6(1916):273-274, no. 554.
Rosenberg, Adolf. The Work of Rembrandt, reproduced in over five hundred illustrations. Classics in Art 2. New York, 1907: 343, repro.
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. 3rd ed. Stuttgart and Berlin, 1908: repro. 403, 562.
Knackfuss, Hermann. Rembrandt. Künstler-Monographien. Bielefeld, 1909: 158-159, pl. 164.
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt: Des Meisters Gemälde. Edited by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. Stuttgart and Leipzig, 1909: repro. 403, 562.
Graves, Algernon. A Century of Loan Exhibitions, 1813-1912. 5 vols. London, 1913-1915: 3(1914):1010.
Rosenberg, Adolf. The Work of Rembrandt, reproduced in over five hundred illustrations. Classics in Art 2. 2nd ed. New York, 1913: repro. 403.
Rosenberg, Adolf. The Work of Rembrandt. Edited by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Classics in Art 2. 3rd ed. New York, 1921: 403, repro.
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Rembrandt: wiedergefundene Gemälde (1910-1920). Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben. 27. Stuttgart and Berlin, 1921: 403, repro.
Neumann, Carl. Rembrandt. 2 vols. Revised ed. Munich, 1922: 2:540, 542.
Meldrum, David S. Rembrandt’s Painting, with an Essay on His Life and Work. New York, 1923: 137, 199, pl. 339.
Knackfuss, Hermann. Rembrandt. Künstler-Monographien. Leipzig, 1924: 162, pl. 170.
Rutter, Frank. "Notes from Abroad." International Studio 92 (1929): 64-67, repro.
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. The thirteenth loan exhibition of old masters, paintings by Rembrandt. Exh. cat. Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, 1930: no. 62.
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Rembrandt Paintings in America. New York, 1931: no. 141, repro.
Rijckevorsel, J. L. A. A. M. van. "Rembrandt en de Traditie." Ph.D. dissertation, Rijksuniversiteit Nijmegen, 1932: 150.
Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt Gemälde, 630 Abbildungen. Vienna, 1935: no. 51, repro..
Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt Schilderijen, 630 Afbeeldingen. Utrecht, 1935: no. 51, repro.
Rich, Daniel Catton. Loan exhibition of paintings, drawings and etchings by Rembrandt and his circle. Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago, 1935: 18, 65, no. 6, repro.
Schmidt-Degener, Frederik. Rembrandt Tentoonstelling. Exh. cat. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1935: 58, no. 26, repro.
Bredius, Abraham. The Paintings of Rembrandt. New York, 1936: no. 51, repro.
Cortissoz, Royal. An Introduction to the Mellon Collection. Boston, 1937: 39.
Jewell, Edward Alden. "Mellon's Gift." Magazine of Art 30, no. 2 (February 1937): 82.
McCall, George Henry. Masterpieces of art: Catalogue of European paintings and sculpture from 1300-1800. Edited by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Exh. cat. New York World's Fair, New York, 1939: 149-150, no. 307.
National Gallery of Art. Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1941: 164, no. 72.
Borenius, Tancred. Rembrandt: Selected Paintings. London and New York, 1942: 35, no. 81, repro.
Bredius, Abraham. The Paintings of Rembrandt. 2 vols. Translated by John Byam Shaw. Oxford, 1942: 1:5, no. 51, repro.
National Gallery of Art. Book of illustrations. 2nd ed. Washington, 1942: no. 72, repro. 29, 240.
Benesch, Otto. "The Rembrandt Paintings in the National Gallery of Art." The Art Quarterly 6, no. 1 (Winter 1943): 28, 30 fig. 11.
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. Translated. New York, 1944: 98, color repro.
National Gallery of Art. Favorite paintings from the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. New York, 1946: 47-49, color repro.
Rosenberg, Jakob. Rembrandt. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA, 1948: 1:30-31, color frontispiece.
National Gallery of Art. Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 87, no. 72, repro.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 42, repro.
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. London, 1957: pl. 78.
Baird, Thomas P. Dutch Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art 7. Washington, D.C., 1960: 8, 14-15, color repro.
Roger-Marx, Claude. Rembrandt. Translated by W.J. Strachan and Peter Simmons. New York, 1960: 13, repro., 64, 96.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 184, no. 72, repro.
Rosenberg, Jakob. Rembrandt: Life and Work. Revised ed. Greenwich, Connecticut, 1964: 47.
National Gallery of Art. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1965: 109.
Bauch, Kurt. Rembrandt Gemälde. Berlin, 1966: 17, no. 330, repro.
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1: 232, color repro.
Rosenberg, Jakob, Seymour Slive, and Engelbert H. ter Kuile. Dutch Art and Architecture: 1600–1800. Pelican History of Art. Baltimore, 1966: 71-72, pl. 50.
Erpel, Fritz. Die Selbstbildnisse Rembrandts. Berlin, 1967: 46, 184, pl. 56.
Gerson, Horst. Rembrandt Paintings. Amsterdam, 1968: 443, no. 736, repro., 503.
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 97, repro.
Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings. Revised by Horst Gerson. 3rd ed. London, 1969: repro. 47, 551, no. 51.
National Gallery of Art. Rembrandt in the National Gallery of Art: Commemorating the tercentenary of the artist's death. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1969: 7, 29, no. 19, repro.
Roberts, Keith. "Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions: London." The Burlington Magazine 114, no. 830 (May 1972): 353.
National Gallery of Art. European paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. Washington, 1975: 284, repro.
Wright, Christopher. Rembrandt and His Art. London and New York, 1975: 98-99, pl. 80.
Bolten, J., and H. Bolten-Rempt. The Hidden Rembrandt. Translated by Danielle Adkinson. Milan and Chicago, 1977: 199, no. 486, repro.
Clark, Kenneth. An Introduction to Rembrandt. London, 1978: 30-31, fig. 26.
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 69, pl. 54.
Wright, Christopher. Rembrandt: Self-Portraits. New York, 1982: 32, color pl. 88.
Rosenberg, Jakob, Seymour Slive, and Engelbert H. ter Kuile. Dutch Art and Architecture. The Pelican History of Art. Revised ed. Harmondsworth, 1984: 71-72, pl. 50.
Schwartz, Gary. Rembrandt: Zijn leven, zijn schilderijen. Maarssen, 1984: 352, no. 417, repro.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 270, no. 351, color repro.
Jackson-Stops, Gervase. The Treasure Houses of Britain: Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New Haven, 1985: 363-364, no. 292.
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, 1985: 328, repro.
Pelfrey, Robert H., and Mary Hall-Pelfrey. Art and Mass Media. New York, 1985: 97, repro.
Schwartz, Gary. Rembrandt: His Life, His Paintings. New York, 1985: 352, no. 417, repro.
Guillaud, Jacqueline, and Maurice Guillaud. Rembrandt: das Bild des Menschen. Translated by Renate Renner. Stuttgart, 1986: no. 739, color repro.
Guillaud, Jacqueline, and Maurice Guillaud. Rembrandt, the human form and spirit. Translated by Suzanne Boorsch et al. New York, 1986: no. 739, color repro.
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Washington and Grand Rapids, 1986: 314, repro.
Tümpel, Christian. Rembrandt. Translated by Jacques and Jean Duvernet, Léon Karlson, and Patrick Grilli. Paris, 1986: 368-369, color repro., 427, no. A72.
Obnovlenskaia, N.G. Masterpieces of western European painting of the XVIth-XXth centuries from the museums of the European countries and USA. Exh. cat. State Hermitage Museum, Leningrad, 1989: no. 13, repro.
Fredericksen, Burton B. "Leonardo and Mantegna in the Buccleuch Collection." The Burlington Magazine 133, no. 1055 (February 1991): 116.
Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 21, color repro.
Martz, Louis L. From Renaissance to Baroque: essays on literature and art. Columbia, Missouri, 1991: 242-245, fig. 39.
Fiero, Gloria K. The Age of the Baroque and the European Enlightenment. The Humanist Tradition 4. Dubuque, 1992: 51, fig. 22.13.
Lloyd Williams, Julia. Dutch Art and Scotland: A Reflection of Taste. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1992: no. 53, color repro.
Schneider, Norbert. Porträtmalerei: Hauptwerke europäischer Bildniskunst 1420-1670. Cologne, 1992: 115-116, repro.
Jackson, Jed. Art: a comparative study. Dubuque, Iowa, 1994: 166-167, fig. 123.
Denker, Eric. In Pursuit of the Butterfly: Portraits of James McNeill Whistler. Exh. cat. National Portrait Gallery, Washington. Seattle, 1995: 59, 60, 61, repro.
Genet, Jean. Rembrandt: le secret de Rembrandt, suivi de Ce qui est resté d'un Rembrandt déchiré en petits carrés bien réguliers, et foutu aux chiottes. Paris, 1995: 94, repro.
Slive, Seymour, and Jakob Rosenberg. Dutch painting 1600-1800. Pelican History of Art. Revised and expanded ed. New Haven, 1995: 85, 86, repro.
Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History. New York, 1995: 792, fig.19-50.
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 261-265, color repro. 263.
Kissick, John. Art: Context and Criticism. Madison, 1996: 266, repro.
Pelfrey, Robert H. Art and mass media. Reprint. Dubuque, Iowa, 1996: 94-95, fig. 4.10.
Tansey, Richard G. and Fred S. Kleiner. Gardner's Art Through the Ages. 10th ed. Fort Worth, 1996: 859, color fig. 24.50.
Dworetzky, John P., Psychology, 1997, no. 452-453, repro.
Fleischer, Roland E., and Susan C. Scott, eds. Rembrandt, Rubens, and the art of their time: recent perspectives. Papers in art history from the Pennsylvania State University 11. University Park, PA, 1997: no. 1-5, repro.
Fiero, Gloria K. Faith, Reason and Power in the Early Modern World. The Humanistic Tradition 4. 3rd ed. New York, 1998: 54, fig. 22.13.
White, Christopher, and Quentin Buvelot. Rembrandt by Himself. Exh. cat. National Gallery, London; Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague. New Haven, 1999: 200-203, no. 73, repro.; X-radiograph, fig. 73a; detail, fig. 73b.
Wetering, Ernst van de, and Bernhard Schnackenburg. The Mystery of the Young Rembrandt. Exh. cat. Staatliche Museen Kassel, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Schloss Wilhelmshöhe; Museum het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam. Wolfratshausen, 2001: 115-116, fig. 29.
Hinterding, Erik. Rembrandt: dipinti, incisioni e riflessi sul '600 e '700 italiano. Exh. cat. Scuderie Papali al Quirinale, Rome; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Milan, 2002: 388-389, no. 6D, repro. on title page.
Ackley, Clifford S., et al. Rembrandt's journey: painter, draughtsman, etcher. Exh. cat. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago. Boston, 2003: 308-309, no. 215, repro.
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 198-199, no. 156, color repro.
Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project. A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings. Vol. 4: The Self-Portraits. Edited by Ernst van de Wetering. Dordrecht, 2005: 94, 95 fig. 17, 96, 109, 110, 111, 115 fig. 54, 116, 129, 151, 189, 216, 244, 281, 282 fig. 289, 382, 474, 484, 492, 496, 498-507, 584, 601.
Rønberg, Lene Bøgh, and Eva de la Fuente Pedersen. Rembrandt?: The Master and His Workshop. Exh. cat. Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, 2006: 45, fig. 8.
Zafran, Eric. Rembrandt's People. Exhibition brochure. Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, 2009: no. 3, 10-11, repro.
Keyes, George S., Tom Rassieur, and Dennis P. Weller. Rembrandt in America: collecting and connoisseurship. Exh. cat. North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Cleveland Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Arts. New York, 2011: no. 34, pl. 9, 54-55, 134, 191.
Clark, T.J. "World of Faces," review of Rembrandt: The Late Works, National Gallery London, 2014-2015, London Review of Books 36, no. 23 (4 December 2014): 16, 17, color repro.
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. NGA Online Editions,
Wieseman, M.E., Jonathan Bikker, et al. Rembrandt: The Late Works, Supplement with Provenance, Selected Literature and Bibliography. Online supplement to Exh. cat. National Gallery London; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. London, 2014, 6, 12-13.
Technical Summary

The original support, a tightly, plain-woven fabric with fine threads, has been lined. The tacking margins have been removed and a coating of white lead has been applied to the back of the lining. The double ground consists of a thick, reddish brown lower layer and a very thin, light gray layer.[1] The design was then sketched in a transparent brown underpaint layer intentionally left visible in the proper right sleeve and in the nostrils, mouth, and neck bordering the collar. The exposed areas of the brown sketch are abraded, which has diminished their significance.

The figure was painted with opaque, broad, flat brushstrokes, while the background and hands were thinly painted. The hair has been articulated by fine brushstrokes and lines incised with the butt end of a brush into the still-wet paint. The highlights of the face were first created overall with heavy short strokes of richly impasted paint, with individual brushstrokes swirled wet-into-wet rather than blended. Once dry, the paint was reworked with unblended, short, distinct strokes of darker colors following the initial brushwork pattern. These were softened with half-shadow mid-tones. Strokes of white paint under the beret indicate that Rembrandt initially planned a lighter color beret than the present black one.

While the face and hands are largely intact, much of the figure and the background at the left have suffered from abrasion. The painting underwent treatment in 1992 to remove discolored varnish and overpaint. The blackish paint to the left of the figure and a patchy semi-opaque coating, applied in a prior restoration to disguise abrasion, were left in place.


[1] Cross-sections were analyzed by the Scientific Research department (see report dated November 13, 1992, in NGA Conservation files).

Related IconClass Terms
expressive conotations
historical costume
artist +Raphael + influence of
fame of artist