Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, Leiden 1606–1669 Amsterdam)
Oil on wood
31 3/4 x 26 1/2 in. (80.6 x 67.3 cm)
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 634
In style and execution this portrait of a dignified older gentleman is consistent with Rembrandt's work of about 1645–50. The picture's apparent quality has been diminished by abrasion in the face; the jawline is retouched and the hand reconstructed. The eyes, mouth, and textures of skin and hair remain typical of Rembrandt.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Rembran[dt] / f· 168
duc de Valentinois, Paris; M. de Séréville, Paris (until 1812; his sale, Paillet, Paris, January 22, 1812, no. 19, for Fr 5,071 to Lebrun for Talleyrand); prince Talleyrand (1812–31; sold for 500 livres through Smith to Ashburton); Alexander Baring, 1st Baron Ashburton, London (1831–d. 1848); the Barons Ashburton, London and The Grange, Alresford, Hampshire (1848–89); Francis Denzil Edward Baring, 5th Baron Ashburton, The Grange (1889–1907; sold to Sulley); [Sulley and Co., London, from 1907]; [Sedelmeyer, Paris, until 1909; sold for $125,000 to Altman]; Benjamin Altman, New York (1909–d. 1913)
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," 1890, no. 152 (as "Portrait of a Man," lent by Lord Ashburton).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 10, 1995–January 7, 1996, no. 9.
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.
John Smith. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters. Vol. 7, London, 1836, p. 108, no. 297, on the basis of an old inscription, calls it a portrait of Cornelius Jansenius, dated 1661; gives provenance information, stating that it is currently in the Ashburton collection.
G[ustav]. F[riedrich]. Waagen. Works of Art and Artists in England. London, 1838, vol. 2, p. 273.
G[ustav]. F[riedrich]. Waagen. Kunstwerke und Künstler in England und Paris. Vol. 2, Kunstwerke und Künstler in England. Berlin, 1838, p. 86.
"Visits to Private Galleries." Art-Union 9 (April 1, 1847), p. 123, as "Portrait of Jansen".
C. Vosmaer. Rembrandt, sa vie et ses ouevres. 2nd ed. The Hague, 1877, p. 562.
Wilhelm [von] Bode. Studien zur Geschichte der holländischen Malerei. Braunschweig, 1883, p. 585, no. 190.
Eugène Dutuit. Tableaux et dessins de Rembrandt. Paris, 1885, pp. 12, 42, 70, no. 340, as a portrait of an old man, wrongly identified as Jansenius.
Alfred von Wurzbach. Rembrandt-galerie. Stuttgart, 1886, text vol., p. 56, no. 146, as Jansenius.
A[braham]. Bredius. "De 'Old Masters' in de Royal Academy te Londen, 1890." De Nederlandsche Spectator (1890), p. 108.
Émile Michel. Rembrandt: His Life, His Work, and His Time. English ed. New York, 1894, vol. 2, pp. 162–64, 234, states that the inscription is false and the date 1661 is suspicious; dates it 1645–48.
Malcolm Bell. Rembrandt van Rijn and His Work. London, 1899, pp. 85, 143.
Wilhelm [von] Bode with the assistance of C. Hofstede de Groot. The Complete Work of Rembrandt. Vol. 4, Paris, 1900, p. 31, no. 277, pl. 277, as "An Elderly Man with a Pointed Gray Beard Holding His Gloves in His Left Hand, erroneously called the Portrait of Cornelius Jansenius"; dates it about 1642.
Adolf Rosenberg. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1906, ill. p. 190.
Adolf Rosenberg. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. Ed. W. R. Valentiner. 3rd ed. Stuttgart, 1909, ill. p. 264.
Illustrated Catalogue of the Eleventh Series of 100 Paintings by Old Masters . . . Paris, 1911, p. 34, no. 28, ill.
Handbook of the Benjamin Altman Collection. New York, 1914, pp. 35–36, no. 24, notes that the old inscription and false date have been removed, and states that it is in the style of the 1640s.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner. "The Rembrandts of the Altman Collection: I." Art in America 2 (August 1914), pp. 355–56, fig. 2, dates it 1641.
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. 355–56, no. 757.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Rembrandt wiedergefundene Gemälde. Stuttgart, 1921, p. 125.
François Monod. "La Galerie Altman au Metropolitan Museum de New-York (2e article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 8 (November 1923), p. 304.
D. S. Meldrum. Rembrandt's Paintings. London, 1923, p. 194, pl. CCXXXIV, as "Portrait of a Man (wrongly called Jan Six)" [sic]; dates it about 1642.
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. 73, pl. 73, dates it about 1640-42.
A[braham]. Bredius. Rembrandt Gemälde. Vienna, 1935, p. 10, no. 221, pl. 221.
Kurt Bauch. Rembrandt Gemälde. Berlin, 1966, p. 20, pl. 387, tentatively suggests the inscribed date is 1643.
Horst Gerson. Rembrandt Paintings. Ed. Gary Schwartz. Amsterdam, 1968, p. 498, no. 245, ill. p. 341, dates it to the second half of the 1640s, calling the execution "rather weak".
Paolo Lecaldano inL'opera pittorica completa di Rembrandt. Milan, 1969, p. 112, no. 264, ill., dates it about 1645.
Horst Gerson, ed. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings. By A[braham]. Bredius. 3rd ed. London, 1969, p. 566, no. 221, ill. p. 179.
J. Bolten and H. Bolten-Rempt. The Hidden Rembrandt. Milan, 1977, p. 190, no. 322, ill.
Christian Tümpel. Rembrandt: Mythos und Methode. Königstein, 1986, p. 413, no. 209, ill. p. 209 (color).
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), lists its attribution to Rembrandt with a question mark.
Pierre Cabanne. Rembrandt. [Paris], 1991, p. 150, no. 6, ill.
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. 61–63, no. 9, ill. (color), as by Rembrandt; states that infrared examination reveals a date of 1648.
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. 28, 47, 92, 94, no. 9, figs. 46 (color detail), 47 (x-radiograph detail), 116 (detail), 117 (x-radiograph), and ill. p. 93 (color), considers the date 1648 to be convincing, whether or not it was inscribed by Rembrandt himself.
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. 124.
JoLynn Edwards. Alexandre-Joseph Paillet: Expert et marchand de tableaux à la fin du XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 1996, pp. 328–29.
Thomas Ketelsen inRembrandt, oder nicht? Exh. cat., Hamburger Kunsthalle. Vol. 2, "Die Gemälde."Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany, 2000, pp. 32, 40 n. 144, fig. 15, calls it typical of Rembrandt portraits of the late 1640s.
Catherine B. Scallen. Rembrandt, Reputation, and the Practice of Connoisseurship. Amsterdam, 2004, p. 375 n. 49.
Peter Klein. "The Use of Wood in Rembrandt's Workshop: Wood Identification and Dendochronological Analyses." The Learned Eye: Regarding Art, Theory, and the Artist's Reputation: Essays for Ernst van de Wetering. Ed. Marieke van den Doel et al. Amsterdam, 2005, p. 30.
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, 70, fig. 32 (Altman gallery photograph).
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. ix, xi; vol. 2, pp. 624–28, no. 150, colorpl. 150.
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.