Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, Leiden 1606–1669 Amsterdam)
Oil on wood
Oval, 26 3/4 x 19 3/4 in. (67.9 x 50.2 cm)
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 634
The sitter’s identity is unknown, as in many Rembrandt portraits of the 1630s. During that decade in Amsterdam the painter was pressed with many portrait commissions, which he handled with the occasional use of assistants and different degrees of quality in his own work. Some critics detect the hand of a collaborator in this painting, but the strong modeling of the face, delicate drawing of the cap, and immediacy of the expression are typical of Rembrandt himself.
This formal portrait, entirely or essentially by Rembrandt, probably dates from 1633. Technical analysis provides a strong argument for this attribution (see Bruyn et al. 1986), though the black costume and perhaps even the ruff and cap are possibly by a collaborator.
Bruyn et al. question the authenticity of the inscription, but note that, athough hesitant, it is so similar to genuine Rembrandt signatures that it may have been copied from a pendant, now lost. However, it is far from certain that Rembrandt did not sign and date the work himself. Comparison with similar Rembrandt portraits also suggests that it may have been painted without an intended companion. Rembrandt's Portrait of a Man (MMA 64.126) was once proposed as its pendant (Valentiner 1931), but that work probably never had a mate (Liedtke 2007).
A copy of the head and shoulders only was sold at Lawrence Fine Art of Crewkerne, October 30, 1986, no. 134, as by a pupil of Rembrandt. The catalogue for this sale states that the original portrait by Rembrandt was previously at Althorp [published in "Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp House," 1831, no. 300]. However, the location of the MMA picture before 1867 is unknown.
[2010; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): Rembrandt f· / 1633·
Prince Radzivill, Castle of Nieswiez, Lithuania; His Excellency von Lachnicki, Warsaw (by 1867–?at least 1906; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 15, 1867, no. 24, for Fr 9,000, bought in); [Kleinberger, Paris, until 1909; sold for $60,000 to Altman]; Benjamin Altman, New York (1909–d. 1913)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 10, 1995–January 7, 1996, no. 5.
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.
Abraham Bredius. "Onbekende Rembrandts in Polen, Galicie en Rusland." De Nederlandsche Spectator no. 25 (June 19, 1897), p. 197 [see email in archive file], reports seeing it in the Lachnicki collection, Warsaw.
Wilhelm [von] Bode with the assistance of C. Hofstede de Groot. The Complete Work of Rembrandt. Vol. 8, Paris, 1906, pp. 36-37, 84, no. 561, pl. 561, as "Portrait of a Woman with a White Cap and a Gauffered Ruff," by Rembrandt, in the collection of His Excellency von Lachnicki, Warsaw.
Adolf Rosenberg. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. Ed. W. R. Valentiner. 3rd ed. Stuttgart, 1909, p. 552, ill. p. 98.
Handbook of the Benjamin Altman Collection. New York, 1914, p. 19, no. 11, states that it "was in the collection of the Princess [sic?] Radziwill at the Castle of Nieswiz in Lithuania, and of von Lachnicki in Paris and Warsaw".
C[ornelis]. Hofstede de Groot. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Ed. Edward G. Hawke. Vol. 6, London, 1916, pp. 397–98, no. 867.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Rembrandt wiedergefundene Gemälde. Stuttgart, 1921, p. 124.
François Monod. "La Galerie Altman au Metropolitan Museum de New-York (2e article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 8 (November 1923), pp. 302–3.
John C. van Dyke. Rembrandt and His School. New York, 1923, p. 47, pl. V, attributes it to Backer.
Alan Burroughs. "Rembrandts in the Metropolitan Museum." The Arts 4 (November 1923), p. 272.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Rembrandt Paintings in America. New York, 1931, unpaginated, no. 36, pl. 36, calls it perhaps the pendant to the male portrait in the Ellsworth collection (MMA 64.126); states that the model could be the wife of a preacher, which the Ellsworth man seems to be, and that the dating of the female portrait a year later than the male portrait is not unusual for Rembrandt
A[braham]. Bredius. Rembrandt Gemälde. Vienna, 1935, pp. 7, 14, no. 335, pl. 335.
Kurt Bauch. Rembrandt Gemälde. Berlin, 1966, pp. 19, 24, pl. 462.
Horst Gerson. Rembrandt Paintings. Ed. Gary Schwartz. Amsterdam, 1968, p. 494, no. 123, ill. p. 265, notes that the execution is weaker than that of the "Portrait of a Man" (64.126), and states that "the attribution to Rembrandt is not wholly convincing".
Paolo Lecaldano inL'opera pittorica completa di Rembrandt. Milan, 1969, p. 99, no. 101, ill.
Horst Gerson, ed. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings. By A[braham]. Bredius. 3rd ed. London, 1969, pp. 560, 576, no. 335, ill. p. 265.
J. Bolten and H. Bolten-Rempt. The Hidden Rembrandt. Milan, 1977, p. 180, no. 154, ill.
Walter L. Strauss and Marjon van der Meulen. The Rembrandt Documents. New York, 1979, p. 95.
Gary Schwartz. Rembrandt, His Life, His Paintings. New York, 1985, p. 155, fig. 147 (color), illustrates it with the "Portrait of a Man" (MMA 64.126), but states that "something in the way they interact tells me that they are not companion pieces".
Christian Tümpel. Rembrandt: Mythos und Methode. Königstein, 1986, p. 431, no. A105, ill. p. 89, as by a pupil of Rembrandt.
J[osua]. Bruyn et al. A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings. Vol. 2, 1631–1634. The Hague, 1986, pp. 6, 242, 413–17, 861, 865, no. A83, ill. (overall, x-ray, and details), as a "locally not too well preserved painting"; accept it as by Rembrandt, but reject a connection with MMA 64.126; state that "it is uncertain whether the panel was originally oval or rectangular".
English and Continental Paintings. Lawrence Fine Art of Crewkerne. October 30, 1986, p. 54, under no. 134.
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, fig. 36 (Altman gallery installation).
Leonard J. Slatkes. Rembrandt: Catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1992, p. 282, no. 183, ill. (color).
Walter Liedtke inRembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, "Paintings, Drawings, and Prints: Art-Historical Perspectives."New York, , pp. 50–52, 126, no. 5, ill. (color), as attributed to Rembrandt.
Hubert von Sonnenburg. Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 1, "Paintings: Problems and Issues."New York, 1995, pp. 6, 42–43, 88–91, no. 5, ill. (color) and figs. 36 (color detail), 37 (x-radiograph detail), 111–12 (color details), 113
, as a copy after Rembrandt.
William Grimes. "An Enigma Sometimes Wrapped in a Fake." New York Times (October 1, 1995), p. H34.
Herbert Lank. "Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship." Studies in Conservation 41, no. 2 (1996), p. 123.
Jaap van der Veen. "Onbekende opdrachtgevers van Rembrandt (3)." Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis nos. 1–2 (2003), pp. 55, 58–59 n. 52, fig. 4, rejects the notion that this work and MMA 64.126 might be pendants.
Catherine B. Scallen. Rembrandt, Reputation, and the Practice of Connoisseurship. Amsterdam, 2004, pp. 131, 350 n. 9, p. 356 n. 118, p. 375 n. 49.
Peter Klein inA Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings. Vol. 4, The Self-portraits. Dordrecht, 2005, p. 650, reports that the panel cannot be dated by dendrochronology.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 31–32, 35, 38, 70, figs. 32 (Altman gallery photograph), 40 (color, MMA Altman gallery photograph).
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, p. ix; vol. 2, pp. 552, 585–88, no. 145, colorpl. 145.
Walter Liedtke. "Rembrandt Revelations at the Metropolitan Museum." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen, Beiheft: Wissenschaft auf der Suche 51 (2009), p. 45.
George S. Keyes inRembrandt in America: Collecting and Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. New York, 2011, pp. 73–74, 84 n. 41.
A copy of this painting was sold at Lawrence Fine Art of Crewkerne, October 30, 1986, no. 134, as by a pupil of Rembrandt. The catalogue for this sale states that the original portrait by Rembrandt was previously at Althorp (published in "Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp House," 1831, no. 300). It is unclear whether the author of the sale catalogue identifies the MMA work with the Althorp portrait.