Logga in

Rembrandt, Studio of

Half length figure of Rembrandt in a feathered cap, his eyes cast in shadow

Sold for 2.800.000 SEK at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale 7-10 June 2017.

1105. Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Holland 1606‑1669). Studio of.
Half length figure of Rembrandt in a feathered cap, his eyes cast in shadow. Oil on panel, 77 x 63 cm.

The present painting, which is striking by its high painterly quality and excellent state of conservation, recently surfaced from Hviderups Manor in Skåne. Only known through an old photograph, it was mentioned by the Rembrandt Research Project in 1989 as a copy after a painting now at Buckland Abbey, Devon, which was traditionally attributed to Rembrandt (see A. Bredius, no. 25) but disattributed in J. Bruyn et.al., A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, III, C 92 and tentatively reattributed to Rembrandt by E. van de Wetering et.al., A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, IV: The Self Portraits, 2005, pp. 232/8 and Corrigenda et Addenda, p. 604 and by the same author, A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, VI, 2015 (a reprint of this volume appeared under the title Rembrandt’s Paintings Revisited. A complete Survey, 2017), p. 545/6, cat. no. 134, with ill, plate 134, note 134, as by Rembrandt with possible workshop participation in the ostrich feather.

As E. van de Wetering pointed out, the striking genesis of the composition of the Buckland Abbey painting, such as it is documented in the X-ray radiograph of that painting, the appearance of the same self portrait in the second state of Rembrandt’s and J.J. van Vliet’s Ecce Homo etching of 1635 (B77), a drawn copy of it in a Vanitas still life by the Leyden painter Abraham Susenier dated 1669/72 as much as the authentic signature and date 1635 were ample reason to judge the painting at Buckland Abbey as a prototype rather than a studio product.

Following the recent reappearance of the present painting, technical research consisting of a dendrochronological analysis of the oak supported by Prof. Dr. Peter Klein and X-ray radiographic examination made at the Ateneum in Helsinki, Finland, have confirmed the present painting to be a studio replica of the Buckland Abbey painting, probably dating from roughly the same time as the latter and carrying all the characteristic features of Rembrandt’s studio production of the time. Among these characteristics is the use of an oak support from a Polish/Baltic tree consisting of three planks, for which the earliest felling date was established at 1624, allowing a creation from 1632 and upwards. See Peter Klein’s report dated the 28th of September 2016. Although X-rays revealed an execution of the painting showing no changes in the creative process, it nonetheless showed the use of so called reserves in its execution, meaning that it was painted from back to front with recesses reserved in the background to be filled in later with the figure and the costume. Such an execution is also to be discerned with the naked eye, for instance along the cape.

As shown in E. van de Wetering, A Corpus etc. IV, Rembrandt’s production of self portraits was frequently accompanied by workshop copies and variants. Rembrandt’s contemporaries, especially the art lovers and painters among them, must have been familiar with Rembrandt’s features, given the frequency of which they could see these in the widely spread etched self portraits. Thus, one may assume that the present composition is rather intended as a self portrait than as a random tronie. In J. Bruyn.et.al. A Corpus III, it was remarked that in more than in other representations of Rembrandt by himself or his pupils, the emphasis in the present composition was placed on the idea of Vanitas, not only in the costly garb with the gorget and ostrich plumes but also in the distinctly rendered cast shadow, which reminds to Job:8-9: ‘because our days upon earth are a shadow’. That the painting indeed was understood as Vanitas in the 17th century, becomes evident from the inclusion of a pen and ink copy on paper in Susenier’s Vanitas still life, oil on canvas, 59,7 x 73,7 cm, sold at Sotheby’s New York, 24 January 2008, lot 202.

The half length figure of Rembrandt with feathered cap and with his eyes cast in shadow, such as seen in the present painting, is an important composition in Rembrandt’s oeuvre. It shows Rembrandt’s mastery in depicting a subtle interplay between light, shade and reflected light in the pockets of the eyes. In this feature, the composition is linked to the “Self portrait with shaded eyes” of 1634, now in the Leiden collection, New York (inv.no. RR-110) and the “Self portrait with a velvet beret and gold chain” of between 1633/6, in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (inv.no 808). It is also seen in the “Standard Bearer” from 1636, in the Rothschild collection, Paris. From this group as much as the various versions of the present composition, E. van de Wetering, op.cit., IV, p. 234 observed that by 1634 Rembrandt had developed the formula for the partially shadowed face which in the subsequent years was further exploited and used by the pupils in the studio.

The present painting is a beautiful example of the high level of the Rembrandt studio in the course of the 1630’s. It is one of a small group of studio replicas, now in Wiesbaden, Rome and formerly in the Cook collection, sold at Christie’s London, 25 June 1958, lot 113. Another copy, albeit of mediocre quality, has recently surfaced from a Dutch private collection, Rotterdam.

We would like to thank Prof Dr. E. van de Wetering for his help in cataloguing this lot.

Back to catalogue »

Mer information