• gerard van weyenbergh

Rembrandt reveals himself in his self-portraits. part1


Dutch master Rembrandt never stopped painting himself. Of the hundred or so self-portraits painted, engraved or drawn in the space of forty years, only three are in the hands of individuals today.

One of them was sold at Sotheby's on Tuesday in London.

The Self-portrait, wearing a ruff and a black hat by Rembrandt signed and dated 1632 was not authenticated until 1996. It was sold this Tuesday evening in London by Sotheby's for 14.5 million pounds ( 16 million euros).


Born in Leiden and died in Amsterdam on October 4, 1669, Rembrandt van Rijn, one of the most important painters of the 17th century Dutch School, produced several hundred paintings, prints, and drawings, using and perfecting the technique chiaroscuro inspired by Caravaggio.

Known for the materiality of his painting and his rough style, the Flemish master shows, in intense and lively scenes, compassion and humanity, through his characters, sometimes destitute or worn out by age.

The self-portrait holds a major place in his work. Wearing a beret, a cap, or a turban, he appears like a prince, a beggar, an apostle, or a soldier. Throughout his life, Rembrandt questioned his mirror to try to find the correctness of expressions or feelings.

This monomania also allows him to make himself known more, to "sell himself" or to assert the prestige of his profession.

One of the three self-portraits still held by individuals _ Self-portrait, wearing a ruff and a black hat _, was produced by the painter, in his youth, to seduce the bourgeoisie of Amsterdam. The auction house specifies that the previous record for a self-portrait of the artist dates from 2003, for 6.9 million pounds.

One of Rembrandt's last self-portraits in private hands

Almost all of Rembrandt's self-portraits are now kept in museums.

One of the three still privately owned was sold in 2003, another is on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Scotland, and Self-Portrait, wearing a ruff and a black hat, put auctioned at Sotheby's in London, is a work from his youth.

This 15 cm by 20 cm canvas, signed and dated 1632, represents the great Flemish master at the age of 26 in ceremonial dress, dressed in black with a felt hat and a large white lace ruff.

The painting was not authenticated until 1996, after an analysis showing that it had been made on the same oak wood as the support for a portrait of his friend Maurits Huygens made by Rembrandt.

According to the co-chair of the Old Master Paintings and Drawings department at Sotheby's Worldwide, George Gordon, the formal attire, unusual among his dozens of self-portraits, suggests that he may have wanted to show himself in his best light, in order to woo his future wife and muse Saskia and convince his parents that he was a good match.

At the beginning of the 1630s, the young Rembrandt, who was starting to experience great success, had just settled in Amsterdam.

© Sotheby's

The painting was completed in a very short time, according to George Gordon, as the background had not yet finished drying when the artist signed.

From buyer to buyer, Self-portrait, wearing a ruff and a black hat, whose current owner is parting was sold for the first time in Paris in January 1891 to Henry Robert Brand. A descendant sold it in 1970 to the Parisian expert Jacques Leegenhoek, during a sale at Sotheby's. Leegenhoek's wife then sold it to a private collector, who got rid of it thanks to dealer Noortman Master Paintings in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Before a last resale in September 2005. Part 1. France Culture