Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, 16061669)
Oil on canvas; 39 3/8 x 36 1/8 in. (100 x 91.8 cm)
Gift of Archer M. Huntington, in memory of his father, Collis Potter Huntington, 1926 (26.101.10)
This poetic picture, although not signed, is typical of Rembrandt in the early 1650s. The painting has suffered from abrasion and several relinings, but its original quality may be surmised in the cascading brushstrokes and billowing folds of the blouse (compare Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (61.198)), and in the flower-filled apron. The idealized figure and the composition derive from portraits of Rembrandt's wife Saskia (who died in 1642) and from pictures for which his companion, Hendrickje Stoffels, apparently served as a model (for example, the Bathsheba of 1654 in the Louvre, Paris). The subject itself was inspired by Titian's Flora (Uffizi, Florence), which was in Amsterdam during the 1630s. The present Flora, however, differs from Titian's and from Rembrandt's Flora of 1635 (National Gallery, London) in that the usual offer of pleasure seems ambivalent, as if the goddess of spring understood that flowers, youth, beauty, and love do not last.