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Portrait of a Woman, probably a Member of the Van Beresteyn Family

Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, Leiden 1606–1669 Amsterdam)

Oil on canvas
44 x 35 in. (111.8 x 88.9 cm)
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    This portrait is a pendant to the Portrait of a Man (29.100.3). If the man is Cornelis van Beresteyn, then the woman must be his second wife, Corvina van Hofdyck (1602–1667). Her pose, including the precise positions of the hands (one holding an ostrich fan), repeats that of her mother-in-law as depicted by Jacob Willemsz. Delff in 1592. Rembrandt's pair portraits appear to have conformed in design to a dynastic ensemble of portraits that originally hung in the Van Beresteyn family home in Delft.

  • Catalogue Entry


  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): RHL·van Rijn [initials in monogram] / 1632

  • Provenance

    G. van Beresteijn, Kasteel Maurick, Vught, The Netherlands (until d. 1884; his estate sale, L.G.N. Dullemen, 's-Hertogenbosch, October 24, 1884, probably among nos. 17–46b, with MMA 29.100.4, for fl. 75,000, bought in; his estate sale, L.G.N. Dullemen, 's-Hertogenbosch, June 28, 1887, to Jacob van Beresteijn); Jacob van Beresteijn, Gorssel, The Netherlands (1887; sold with MMA 29.100.4 for fl. 12,000 to Gérard); [Félix Gérard, Paris, 1887–88; sold with MMA 29.100.3 to Cottier]; [Cottier and Co., London and New York, 1888; sold with MMA 29.100.3 for $60,000 to Havemeyer]; Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (1888–his d. 1907); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 100 (as "Volkera van Beresteijn") [2nd ed., 1958, no. 18, as "The Wife of Cornelis van Beresteijn?"].

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Art of Rembrandt," January 21–?, 1942, no catalogue.

    Louisville. J. B. Speed Art Museum. "Old Masters from the Metropolitan," December 1, 1948–January 23, 1949, no catalogue.

    Madison. Memorial Union Gallery, University of Wisconsin. "Old Masters from the Metropolitan," February 15–March 30, 1949, unnumbered cat.

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. "Old Masters from the Metropolitan," April 24–June 30, 1949, no catalogue.

    Honolulu Academy of Arts. "Four Centuries of European Painting," December 8, 1949–January 29, 1950, no. 7.

    Art Gallery of Toronto. "Fifty Paintings by Old Masters," April 21–May 21, 1950, no. 36.

    Birmingham, Ala. Birmingham Museum of Art. "Opening Exhibition," April 8–June 3, 1951, unnumbered cat.

    Chattanooga. George Thomas Hunter Gallery of Art. "Opening Exhibition," July 12–August 3, 1952, unnumbered cat.

    Akron, Ohio. Akron Art Institute. "Picture of the Month," January 4–February 13, 1955, no catalogue?

    New York. Parke-Bernet. "Art Treasures Exhibition," June 16–30, 1955, no. 339.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Dutch Couples: Pair Portraits by Rembrandt and his Contemporaries," January 23–March 5, 1973, no. 5 (with MMA 29.100.3).

    Bordeaux. Galerie des Beaux-Arts. "Profil du Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York: de Ramsès à Picasso," May 15–September 1, 1981, no. 106.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A446.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 10, 1995–January 7, 1996, no. 4.

    Moscow. State Pushkin Museum. "Rembrandt, ego predshestvenniki i posledovateli," September 12–November 12, 2006, no. 33b.

    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

    Eugène Dutuit. Tableaux et dessins de Rembrandt. Paris, 1885, pp. 53, 62, 66, no. 248 (with MMA 29.100.3), as portraits of unknown sitters, in the Beeresteyn [Beresteijn] collection; reports an anecdote from "Indépendance Belge" regarding the 1884 auction of the G. van Beresteijn estate.

    Alfred von Wurzbach. Rembrandt-galerie. Stuttgart, 1886, text vol., no. 344 (with MMA 29.100.3).

    "Two Portraits by Rembrandt." New York Daily Tribune (November 20, 1888), p. 7, mentions that the paintings have been relined.

    "Two Portraits by Rembrandt." New York Sun (1888), p. ?, reports that the two paintings were bought by a New York collector [Havemeyer] from the Beresteijns via a Paris dealer and are on view at Cottier's Fifth Avenue gallery.

    "The Rembrandt Portraits." The Studio, n.s., 4 (February 1889), p. 1, ill., as recently brought to America by Cottier, purchased by Havemeyer, and on loan to the MMA.

    Wilhelm von Bode. Münchener neueste Nachrichten (July 9, 1890), p ? [see Ref. Michel 1894].

    Émile Michel. Rembrandt: His Life, His Work, and His Time. English ed. New York, 1894, vol. 1, pp. 118–19.

    W. Bode. "Alte Kunstwerke in den Sammlungen der Vereinigten Staaten." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 6, no. 1 (1895), p. 71.

    Wilhelm [von] Bode with the assistance of C. Hofstede de Groot. The Complete Work of Rembrandt. 2, Paris, 1897, pp. 6, 44, 46, no. 83, pl. 83, as portraits of a gentleman and lady of the Van Beresteijn-Vucht family, stating that "they purport to be . . . Christian Paulus van Beresteyn and . . . his wife, Volkera Nicolai Knobbert"; notes that the actual identity of the sitters is unknown, stating that the male "may have been a Van Beresteyn, or a collateral in the female line".

    Malcolm Bell. Rembrandt van Rijn and His Work. London, 1899, pp. 61, 184.

    Adolf Rosenberg. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1906, pp. 394, 408, ill. p. 59.

    Adolf Rosenberg. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. 3rd ed. Stuttgart, 1909, pp. 551, 568, ill. p. 75.

    Alfred von Wurzbach. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon. 2, Vienna, 1910, pp. 405–6.

    C[ornelis]. Hofstede de Groot. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 6, London, 1916, pp. 301–2, no. 625.

    William Howe Downes. "The Great Rembrandt Question." American Magazine of Art 14 (December 1923), p. 663.

    D. S. Meldrum. Rembrandt's Paintings. London, 1923, p. 51 n. 2, p. 188, pl. LXXI.

    Illustrated London News 176 (March 29, 1930), ill. p. 535.

    Frank Jewett Mather Jr. "The Havemeyer Pictures." The Arts 16 (March 1930), pp. 462, 464.

    W. R. Valentiner. "Important Rembrandts in American Collections." Art News 28 (April 26, 1930), p. 4, ill. following p. 4.

    Harry B. Wehle. "The Exhibition of the H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 25 (March 1930), p. 60.

    H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 22–23, ill.

    Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Rembrandt Paintings in America. New York, 1931, unpaginated, no. 24, pl. 24, as a lady of the Beresteÿn-Vucht family, stating that it is so called only because the Havemeyers acquired it from the Beresteÿn family.

    O[tto]. Benesch in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. 29, Leipzig, 1935, p. 262.

    A[braham]. Bredius. Rembrandt Gemälde. Vienna, 1935, p. 14, no. 331, pl. 331.

    Alan Burroughs. Art Criticism from a Laboratory. Boston, 1938, p. 168, states that while these portraits are characteristic of Rembrandt, they are probably by Backer.

    Julius S. Held. "Book Reviews: Alan Burroughs, Art Criticism from a Laboratory." Art Bulletin 22 (March 1940), pp. 41–42, defends the attribution to Rembrandt.

    E. A. van Beresteyn. Genealogie van het Geslacht van Beresteyn. The Hague, 1941, vol. 2, pp. 5, 135–37, fig. 141, does not believe that the portraits represent members of the Beresteijn family; mentions seeing a pair of copies at auction in 1905 on which the coat of arms of the Brabant family was painted in gold.

    William M. Ivins Jr. "The Art of Rembrandt." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 37 (January 1942), pp. 3, 6, ill. p. 5.

    Introduction by William M. Ivins Jr. The Unseen Rembrandt. New York, 1942, pls. 3–4 (overall and detail).

    Josephine L. Allen. "The Museum's Rembrandts." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (November 1945), p. 73.

    Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 2, pp. 612–13, no. 1617, ill. (cropped).

    Theodore Rousseau Jr. "Rembrandt." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 11 (November 1952), pp. 82, 84.

    Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, p. 19, as "Nicholas and Volkera van Beresteijn".

    Kurt Bauch. Rembrandt Gemälde. Berlin, 1966, p. 24, pl. 459.

    Horst Gerson. Rembrandt Paintings. Amsterdam, 1968, p. 494, no. 121, ill. p. 265, as by another, weaker hand.

    A[braham]. Bredius. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings. 3rd ed. London, 1969, pp. 561, 576, no. 331, ill. p. 262.

    Paolo Lecaldano in L'opera pittorica completa di Rembrandt. Milan, 1969, p. 98, no. 84, ill.

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

    I. van Eeghen. Portretten van Rembrandt. [ca. 1973], pp. 6–7.

    Hubert von Sonnenburg in "Technical Aspects: Scientific Examination." Rembrandt After Three Hundred Years. Chicago, 1973, p. 91, suggests that the uneven quality indicates that Rembrandt may have signed works done partly or entirely by pupils.

    Hubert von Sonnenburg. "Maltechnische Gesichtspunkte zur Rembrandtforschung." Maltechnik/Restauro 82, no. 1 (1976), p. 21.

    J. Bolten and H. Bolten-Rempt. The Hidden Rembrandt. Milan, 1977, p. 177, no. 104, ill.

    Walter L. Strauss and Marjon van der Meulen. The Rembrandt Documents. New York, 1979, p. 83.

    Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann. "Dutch and Flemish Masters of the Seventeenth Century." Apollo 111 (March 1980), p. 205.

    Maryan W. Ainsworth et al. Art and Autoradiography: Insights into the Genesis of Paintings by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, and Vermeer. New York, 1982, p. 29, pls. 15, 16 (x-ray radiograph), 17, 18 (autoradiographs), finds that autoradiographs of both portraits reveal a technique and procedure consistent with the work of Rembrandt.

    Gary Schwartz. Rembrandt, His Life, His Paintings. New York, 1985, p. 163, figs. 160 (color), 161 (autoradiograph), considers both portraits to be by Rembrandt.

    J[osua]. Bruyn et al. "1631–1634." A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings. 2, The Hague, 1986, pp. 26, 38, 73–74, 740, 742–43, 747–59, no. C69, ill. (overall, x-ray, autoradiographs, and details), attribute both portraits to a single artist working in Rembrandt's workshop; suggest Jouderville; state that Rembrandt may have intervened to paint the left hand.

    Grace Glueck. "Masterpieces Rise and Fall on a Tide of New Expertise." New York Times (December 7, 1986), p. H1, mentions that the Museum retains the attribution to Rembrandt.

    Susanna McBee. "But is it a Rembrandt?" U.S. News & World Report (October 20, 1986), pp. 62–63, ill. (color), reports the Rembrant Research Project's [see Ref. Bruyn et al. 1986] rejection of the attribution to Rembrandt.

    Douglas C. McGill. "Museum Delays its Rembrandt Relabeling." New York Times (November 15, 1986), p. 14, states that the Museum has reversed its decision to reattribute the pendants to the workshop of Rembrandt [but see Ref. McGill 1986, article of September 30].

    Douglas C. McGill. "Met to Relabel 2 of its 'Rembrandts'." New York Times (September 30, 1986), pp. A1, C13, ill., erroneously states that the Museum plans to reattribute the pendants to the workshop of Rembrandt.

    Maria Meyer. Das Kostüm auf niederländischen Bildern: zum Modewandel im 17. Jahrhundert. Münster, 1986, p. 57, fig. 116.

    Christian Tümpel. Rembrandt: Mythos und Methode. Königstein, 1986, pp. 429, 431, no. A103, ill. p. 83 (color), as from Rembrandt's workshop.

    Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 47, 53–54, 254, 261 n. 9 (to chapter IV).

    Josua Bruyn. "Rembrandts Schilderijen Opnieuw Onderzocht." Verslag van de verenigde vergadering van beide afdelingen der Akademie: Maandag, 30 maart 1987 (1987), pp. 9–11, figs. 9–11 (overall, x-ray, and autoradiograph).

    John Russell. "The Cordial Conflict on Rembrandt Continues." New York Times (February 19, 1987), pp. A1, C23, ill. (detail).

    Christopher White. "Review of Ref. Bruyn et al. 1986." Burlington Magazine 129 (December 1987), p. 810, is not persuaded by the rejection of the attribution to Rembrandt.

    Svetlana [L.] Alpers. Rembrandt's Enterprise: The Studio and the Market. Chicago, 1988, pp. 122, 125 n. 19, fig. 4.32.

    Paul Jeromack. "Être Rembrandt ou ne plus l'être." Connaissance des Arts no. 441 (November 1988), pp. 103–8, ill. (color).

    Christopher Brown. "Re-Appraising Rembrandt." Sotheby's Preview (November/December 1989), p. 8, ill. p. 9 (color), rejects the attribution to Jouderville [see Ref. Bruyn et al. 1986].

    J[osua]. Bruyn et al. "1635–1642." A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings. 3, The Hague, 1989, p. 776.

    Walter Liedtke. "Reconstructing Rembrandt: Portraits from the Early Years in Amsterdam (1631–34)." Apollo 129 (May 1989), pp. 325–26, 328–31, 372 nn. 26, 28, 30–31, 35, 55–56, 59, pl. II and fig. 2 (autoradiograph), reaffirms the attribution to Rembrandt.

    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.

    Claus Grimm. Rembrandt selbst: Ein Neubewertung seiner Porträtkunst. Stuttgart, 1991, pp. 48, 81, colorpl. 31 (detail), figs. 67, 153 (detail), as by Rembrandt.

    Ben Broos. "Rembrandt? Rembrandt!." Algemeen-Nederlands Tweemaandelijks Cultureel Tijdschrift 35 (March–April 1992), p. 197.

    J[osua]. Bruyn. Lecture: Rembrandts Werkplaats. Haarlem, 1992, pp. 11–16, fig. 5, defends his attribution to Jouderville.

    John Ingamells. "Dutch and Flemish." The Wallace Collection: Catalogue of Pictures. 4, London, 1992, p. 294 n. 9.

    Walter Liedtke in Masterworks from the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1992, p. 106 n. 5.

    Leonard J. Slatkes. Rembrandt: Catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1992, pp. 208–9, no. 117, ill. (color), defends the attribution to Rembrandt.

    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, pp. 62–63, colorpl. 62.

    "Corrections." New York Times (August 19, 1993), p. A2, corrects Ref. Vogel 1993, noting that the Museum never changed the attribution to Rembrandt.

    Susan Alyson Stein in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 207.

    Carol Vogel. "A New System for Validating Rembrandts." New York Times (August 12, 1993), pp. C13, C16, ill. (detail), erroneously states that the pendants were "downgraded" in 1986 to the workshop of Rembrandt.

    Gretchen Wold in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 371–73, no. A446, ill.

    William Grimes. "An Enigma Sometimes Wrapped in a Fake." New York Times (October 1, 1995), p. H34.

    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. 15–16, 40, 46–50, 52, 60, 96, 103, no. 4, ill. (color).

    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. 12, 18–19, 24, 40, 82–87, no. 4, ill. (color) and figs. 12 (autoradiograph), 34 (color detail), 35 (x-radiograph detail), 108–10 (overall and color details), is "disinclined to dismiss altogether the possibility that an assistant participated occasionally . . . particularly with regard to the woman's portrait".

    Paul Broekhoff and Michiel Franken. "Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship." Simiolus 25, no. 1 (1997), pp. 76, 78.

    Ernst van de Wetering. Rembrandt: The Painter at Work. Amsterdam, 1997, p. 102, in a survey of canvas threadcounts, finds that the pendants are probably from the same bolt of fabric.

    Simon Schama. Rembrandt's Eyes. New York, 1999, pp. 374–75, 713 n. 15, ill. p. 373 (color), suggests the possibility that it was painted in part or whole by a pupil or an assistant.

    León Krempel. Studien zu den datierten Gemälden des Nicolaes Maes (1634–1693). Petersberg, Germany, 2000, p. 130 n. 169.

    Christopher Wright. Rembrandt. Paris, 2000, pp. 192–93, fig. 175 (color), as by Rembrandt, stating that it is difficult to believe that the pendants had ever been the subject of controversy.

    Emilie E. S. Gordenker. Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) and the Representation of Dress in Seventeenth-century Portraiture. Turnhout, Belgium, 2001, p. 100 n. 27.

    Julia Lloyd Williams. Rembrandt's Women. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland. Edinburgh, 2001, p. 245 n. 16.

    Julia Lloyd Williams. Rembrandt: Artemisia y Mujer en el lecho. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2002, p. 32 n. 16.

    Esmée Quodbach. "'The Last of the American Versailles': The Widener Collection at Lynnewood Hall." Simiolus 29, no. 1/2 (2002), p. 82 n. 69.

    Sylvia Hochfield. "What is a Real Rembrandt?" Art News 103 (February 2004), pp. 88–90, ill. (color).

    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.

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

    Rembrandt, ego predshestvenniki i posledovateli. Exh. cat., State Pushkin Museum. Moscow, 2006, pp. 9, 48, no 33b, ill. p. 51 (color).

    Lene Bøgh Rønberg in Rembrandt? The Master and His Workshop. Exh. cat., Statens Museum for Kunst. [Copenhagen], 2006, p. 99 n. 17, as among works "accepted . . . as the result of collaboration between the master and a student".

    Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. ix, 182, 474 n. 2; vol. 2, pp. 568–84, 589, no. 144, colorpl. 144, figs. 134, 139 (eighth autoradiograph), notes that "a collaborator could have played a minor role in the execution"; states that it probably represents a member of the Van Beresteyn family.

    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, 70.

    George S. Keyes in Rembrandt in America: Collecting and Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. New York, 2011, pp. 67, 116, colorpl. 11.

  • Notes

    This picture is the pendant to the "Portrait of a Man" (MMA 29.100.3).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History