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Portrait of an Old Woman

Style of Jacob Backer (Dutch, second quarter 17th century)

Medium:
Oil on wood
Dimensions:
28 x 24 in. (71.1 x 61 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
29.100.2
  • Catalogue Entry

    Forthcoming

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Dated and inscribed: (lower right) Rembrandt / f. 1640; (upper left) ÆT·SVÆ·87·

  • Provenance

    Gerrit Muller, Amsterdam (until 1827; his sale, at his residence, Heerengracht, Amsterdam, April 2, 1827, no. 57, as by Rembrandt, for fl. 2,005 to ?Lelie); comte de Robiano, Brussels (until 1837; his sale, Hôtel du Defunt, Brussels, May 1, 1837, no. 543, for Fr 6,000 to Nieuwenhuys); D. Nieuwenhuys, Brussels (from 1837; sold to Demidoff); Anatole Demidoff, principe di San Donato, Palais de San Donato, Florence, and Paris (until 1868; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 18, 1868, no. 11, for Fr 55,000 to Narischkine); B. Narischkine, Paris (1868–83; his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, April 5, 1883, no. 29, for Fr 51,000 to Beurnonville); Étienne Martin, baron de Beurnonville, Paris (1883–85; his sale, 3, rue Bayard, Paris, June 3, 1884, no. 291, for Fr 41,000, bought in; his anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, January 30–31, 1885, no. 68, for Fr 25,000 to Kann); Rodolphe Kann, Paris (from 1885); [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1890–91; sold for $50,000 to Havemeyer]; Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (1891–his d. 1907); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. Union League Club. "Illuminated Books and Manuscripts, Old Masters and Modern Paintings," December 11–13, 1890, no. 14 (lent by Jos. Durand-Ruel).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Collection of Paintings," May–November 1891, no. 12 [see Wold 1993].

    New York. American Fine Arts Society. "Loan Exhibition," February 13–March 26, 1893, no. 17 (lent by Mr. H. O. Havemeyer).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Hudson-Fulton Celebration," September–November 1909, no. 89.

    New York. M. Knoedler & Co.. "Loan Exhibition of Masterpieces by Old and Modern Painters," April 6–24, 1915, no. 8.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 96 [2nd ed., 1958, no. 29, as Copy after Rembrandt, 18th or 19th century].

    Richmond. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. January 21–April 21, 1948, no catalogue?

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A11.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 10, 1995–January 7, 1996, no. 23.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.

  • References

    C. Vosmaer. Rembrandt, sa vie et ses ouevres. 2nd ed. The Hague, 1877, pp. 523–24, attributes it to Rembrandt.

    Paul Lefort. "La collection de M. B. Narischkine." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 27 (March 1883), p. 221, ill. opp. p. 218 (etching by Ramus), reads the date as either 1640 or 1646.

    Eugène Dutuit. Tableaux et dessins de Rembrandt. Paris, 1885, p. 20.

    Paul Eudel. L'Hôtel Drouot et la curiosité en 1883–1884. Paris, 1885, pp. 404, 406.

    Paul Eudel. L'Hôtel Drouot et la curiosité en 1884–1885. Paris, 1886, pp. 198–99.

    Alfred von Wurzbach. Rembrandt-galerie. Stuttgart, 1886, text vol., no. 307.

    "To Utilize the Loan Exhibit." New York Times (February 12, 1893), p. 4, calls it the companion to Rembrandt's "Gilder" ("Herman Doomer"; MMA, 29.100.1).

    Émile Michel. Rembrandt: His Life, His Work, and His Time. English ed. New York, 1894, vol. 1, p. 268 n. 1, calls it "an old copy, smaller and less frank in manner" after a portrait in the collection of Lord Yarborough (current whereabouts unknown), and mentions "another copy, probably by J. Backer, . . . sold by auction in London in March, 1889".

    W. Bode. "Alte Kunstwerke in den Sammlungen der Vereinigten Staaten." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 6, no. 1 (1895), p. 71, ill. p. 74, calls the Yarborough portrait a copy after the MMA work.

    Malcolm Bell. Rembrandt van Rijn and His Work. London, 1899, p. 184.

    Wilhelm [von] Bode with the assistance of C. Hofstede de Groot. The Complete Work of Rembrandt. 4, Paris, 1900, pp. 31, 148, no. 278, pl. 278.

    Adolf Rosenberg. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. Stuttgart, 1904, ill. p. 114.

    Adolf Rosenberg. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1906, p. 398, ill. p. 186.

    Adolf Rosenberg. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. 3rd ed. Stuttgart, 1909, p. 557, ill. p. 256.

    Byron P. Stephenson. "Great Dutch Artists." Evening Post (September 20, 1909) [reprinted in Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (October 1909), p. 167].

    Wilhelm R. Valentiner. The Hudson-Fulton Celebration: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1909, vol. 1, p. 90, no. 89, ill. opp. p. 90.

    Joseph Breck. "L'art hollandais à l'exposition Hudson-Fulton à New York." L'art flamand & hollandais 13, no. 2 (1910), p. 54 [published in Dutch in Onze Kunst 17 (January 1910), pp. 10–11].

    Alfred von Wurzbach. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon. 2, Vienna, 1910, p. 406, calls the attribution uncertain.

    C[ornelis]. Hofstede de Groot. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 6, London, 1916, p. 399, no. 870.

    William Howe Downes. "The Great Rembrandt Question." American Magazine of Art 14 (December 1923), ill. opp. p. 665.

    John C. van Dyke. Rembrandt and His School. New York, 1923, pp. 45, 47, pl. VI-20, states that the sitter is the same as the one in a portrait in the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum, Berlin (lost in 1945), and tentatively attributes both works to Backer.

    D. S. Meldrum. Rembrandt's Paintings. London, 1923, p. 109 n. 1, p. 190, pl. CXXXI.

    Kurt Bauch. Jakob Adriaensz Backer: Ein Rembrandtschüler aus Friesland. Berlin, 1926, p. 96, under no. 195, notes that the sitter is the same as in the Berlin picture.

    Frank Jewett Mather Jr. "The Havemeyer Pictures." The Arts 16 (March 1930), p. 455, attributes it to Carel van der Pluym, relating it to his "Old Woman with a Book" (Frick Collection, New York).

    "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Parnassus 2 (March 1930), pp. 3–4, ill.

    H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 26–27, ill.

    Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Rembrandt Paintings in America. New York, 1931, unpaginated, no. 70, pl. 70, calls the Yarborough picture a workshop copy after the original MMA painting, noting that since the sitter in the Yarborough picture is shown three-quarter length, the MMA painting must have been cut down at the bottom and possibly on the right side.

    Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, p. 19.

    Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, pp. 172, 208–10 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].

    Werner Sumowski. "J. A. Backer–A. van Dijck." Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler. 1, Landau/Pfalz, 1983–[94?], p. 201, no. 61, ill. p. 264, attributes it to Backer and dates it about 1636–38.

    Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 64, 66, 68, 254, pl. 20, ill. pp. 74, 224, reproduces photographs showing the painting hanging on the wall of the "Rembrandt room" in the Havemeyer home and at the Knoedler exhibition of 1915.

    Walter Liedtke. "Dutch Paintings in America: The Collectors and Their Ideals." Great Dutch Paintings from America. Exh. cat., Mauritshuis, The Hague. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1990, p. 46.

    Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen. Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, fig. 30 (photograph of library of the Havemeyer home).

    Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 19, 310 n. 37.

    Walter A. Liedtke in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 63.

    Rebecca A. Rabinow in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 90–91, 95, fig. 10 (installation photograph from Exh. New York 1915).

    Susan Alyson Stein in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 211, 214, 252.

    Gretchen Wold in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 292, no. A11, ill.

    Walter Liedtke in "Paintings, Drawings, and Prints: Art-Historical Perspectives." Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2, New York, [1995], pp. 93–95, no. 23, ill. (color), calls the MMA and Yarborough pictures copies after a lost original by Backer.

    Hubert von Sonnenburg. "Paintings: Problems and Issues." Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1, New York, 1995, pp. 110, 114, no. 23, ill. p. 111 (color), fig. 144 (color detail), calls it a partial copy after the Yarborough picture; dates it to the seventeenth century.

    Paul Broekhoff and Michiel Franken. "Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship." Simiolus 25, no. 1 (1997), p. 76.

    Esmée Quodbach. "'Rembrandt's "Gilder" is here': How America Got its First Rembrandt and France Lost Many of its Old Masters." Simiolus 31, no. 1/2 (2004), p. 99, fig. 7 (photograph of Havemeyer library).

    Catherine B. Scallen. Rembrandt, Reputation, and the Practice of Connoisseurship. Amsterdam, 2004, pp. 187, 358 n. 14.

    Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 6, 9–13, no. 2, colorpl. 2, dates it between about 1633 and 1640.

    Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 15, 18, 28, fig. 15 (Havemeyer library photograph).



  • Notes

    A portrait attributed to Backer formerly in the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum, Berlin (lost in 1945), seems to depict the same sitter (pl. VI-19 in Ref. Dyke 1923; ill. opp. p. 665 in Ref. Downes 1923).

    A version of this portrait formerly in the collection of Lord Yarborough, London (current whereabouts unknown; fig. 67 in Ref. Liedtke 1995), shows the sitter in three-quarter length. Both the MMA and Yarborough pictures may be copies after a lost original.

    Ref. Michel 1894 mentions a copy, probably by Backer, sold at auction in London in March 1889.

    Etched by F. Bracquemont for the Demidoff sale catalogue of 1868, and by Edm. Ramus for the Narischkine sale catalogue of 1883.

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