Eye Candy for Today: Rembrandt self-portrait at the age of 53

Rembrandt self-portrait from 1659 at the age of 53
Self-portrait, Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt painted this remarkable self-portrait in 1659, after he had suffered frorm 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”.

7 Replies to “Eye Candy for Today: Rembrandt self-portrait at the age of 53”

  1. It’s such a treat to get so close. I enjoy seeing if I can spot the order in which the dabs of paint was applied. If you know the order, you get an insight into the thinking.

  2. Just a marvelous example of self-education, Charley. I could stare at this for hours and discover so many truths (and bust so many myths) about 17th century art. Thanks for “SEEING” this. Peace, Jim (|:{>

  3. Another superb page offering so much. I just happened to see an AWE ? production on Rembrandt, in their series, “Portrait of an Artistic Genius.” So many mistakes that were unbearable…. maybe too much lost in translation. For example they went into great detail about R’s use of “zinc white,” even showing coils of lead as used in the traditional stack lead white method which they described as “rusting zinc.”

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