Self-portrait, Rembrandt van Rijn
Rembrandt painted this remarkable self-portrait in 1659, after he had suffered form personal financial collapse.
Much can be read into his expression, but the painting itself is a triumph.
As he had done on other occasions, Rembrandt posed himself in the manner of a work by a previous master, in this case, Raphael’s Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (also here), which had been on display at auction in Amsterdam some years earlier.
There is a very high resolution image of this painting on the Google Art Project. There is also a downloadable version on Wikimedia Commons, but be aware that the full-size image linked from that page is 80mb.
In an image of this level of detail, Rembrandt’s deft, textural paint handling is revealed to be astonishingly bold and modern; his mixture of colors in modeling the face, masterful; and his penetration into his own state of being, and perhaps that of humanity in general, compelling.
It’s interesting to compare this to Rembrandt’s self portrait as the Apostle Paul from a few years later, which is equally amazing.
The original is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in DC, but is currently on loan to the National Gallery of Art, London as part of a landmark exhibition, “Rembrandt: The Late Works”.