Rembrandt recorded his own physiognomy in some 80 paintings, etchings and drawings, documenting his enduring captivation with his own image throughout almost the entire span of his career.
Almost all of Rembrandt’s painted self-portraits are by now in major museum collections, and only three remain in private hands. One of these, discovered and sold at Sotheby’s in London in 2003, is in the Leiden collection in New York, while another is on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Scotland. The third – the earliest in date of the three, and in some ways the most revealing – will be offered with an estimate of £12-16 million at Sotheby’s London on 28 July. Of intimate proportions and embodying Rembrandt’s unique mastery of self-examination, Self-portrait, wearing a ruff and black hat, will star in the pioneering evening sale.
The painting can be dated to a narrow window towards the end of 1632, thanks to the fact that it is signed with a form of the artist’s signature that he only very briefly employed, and also because dendrochronological analysis shows that it is painted on a panel cut from the same Baltic oak tree as another picture from that precise period.
This was a pivotal moment in the young artist’s career, when he was just establishing himself in Amsterdam and enjoying new-found commercial success; one of Rembrandt’s greatest masterpieces, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, now in the Mauritshuis, The Hague, was painted at exactly this time and is signed in the same way.
Self-portrait, wearing a ruff and black hat, painted just after the 26-year-old Rembrandt set himself up in Amsterdam, falls intriguingly somewhere between the first and the second of these groups of works; here, the artist shows himself clad in black, with a white ruff and a felt hat, the crown encircled by with a hatband decorated with gold – a rather formal type of outfit that would typically have been worn by the sitters he depicted, not by Rembrandt himself. This is one of only two self-portraits by Rembrandt in which he shows himself formally dressed in this way.
Painting to Star in Cross-Category Evening Sale
Hong Kong Preview
2020.7.5 – 7.8
Hall 1, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Photo courtesy to Sotheby’s
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