Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, Leiden 1606–1669 Amsterdam)
Oil on canvas
44 3/8 x 34 1/2 in. (112.7 x 87.6 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 958
Gerard de Lairesse (1641–1711) was, in his day, a well-known painter, etcher, and art theorist. He suffered from congenital syphilis, which caused him to go blind about 1690; he subsequently focused his energies on art theory. By the time this portrait was painted, in 1665, the ravaging effects of the disease were visible in his swollen features and bulbous nose. Recording his unfortunate appearance with an uncompromising directness, Rembrandt invested his subject with an air of quiet dignity. Although the sitter's theories on the ideal in painting were antithetical to Rembrandt's style, which Lairesse disparagingly likened to "liquid mud on the canvas," the portrayal is a sympathetic one.
Inscription: Inscribed (lower left): Rembrandt [the loop of the "R" clipped by the edge of canvas; not followed by an f]
Sale, Amsterdam, June 16, 1802, lot 144 (to Lafontaine for Fl 94); Lafontaine; his sale, Christie's, London, June 13, 1807, lot 16; probably Lord Young, Edinburgh and Silverknowe, Midlothan, Scotland; his sale, Christie's, London, February 29, 1908, lot 66 (to Lewis and Simmons); [Lewis and Simmons, London]; Leopold Koppel, Berlin, by 1908 and still in 1935; consigned to M. Knoedler and Co, New York by Albert L. Koppel, October 1, 1943; purchased by M. Knoedler and Co, New York from Albert L. Koppel, Toronto, April 27, 1945; acquired by Robert Lehman from M. Knoedler and Co, New York, May 2, 1945.