Self-portrait, wearing a Feathered Bonnet
Rembrandt van Rijn (Leyden 1606 – Amsterdam 1669)
This flamboyant portrait shows the great Dutch artist, aged 29, in fanciful attire favoured by him in his early self-portraits from the mid-1630s. The identity of the painter has sometimes been doubted but it was again re-attributed by Ernst van de Wetering, Chair of the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) and after recent technical examination and cleaning during 2013/14, experts now agree it is by the master himself. A special exhibition at Buckland Abbey explores its fascinating history, including its different attributions and the various technical analyses that have helped reveal it as a Rembrandt self-portrait.
Oil painting on poplar panel, Self-portrait, wearing a Feathered Bonnet by Rembrandt van Rijn (Leyden 1606 – Amsterdam 1669) (and studio?), signed and dated, at the lower right background: Rembrant / f (followed by three dots in a triangular pattern) 1635. A half-length portrait of the artist with a white and golden feathered bonnet. He is also wearing a sumptuously embroidered velvet cloak, a gorget (metal neckband) and gold chains. His jewelled beret has elegant golden and white plumes, attached theatrically in the centre with a large gem. He is standing in a starkly-lit studio and his shadow with the feathers is playfully depicted on the wall behind. The portrait was painted in 1635, after the artist had settled in Amsterdam from his native Leiden and had married Saskia van Uylenburgh, cousin of his art-dealer friend.
Acquired as a genuine Rembrandt by Prince Joseph-Wenzel von Liechtenstein (1696-1772) and considered as such by Rembrandt scholars, until Horst Gerson suggested it was possibly by Govaert Flinck in 1968. Since then its authenticity has been in doubt. However, its high quality and the fact that it does not reproduce any other known self-portrait by Rembrandt suggest that it is a prototype. Furthermore, recent X-rays and infra-red refectology show that the artist has changed the position of his left arm, which would not be consistent with it being a copy. At least three copies of it are known: in Wiesbaden, in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica (Palazzo Baberini), Rome, and formerly in the Cook collection, Doughty House, Richmond. The unusually mechanical execution of the feathers on the bonnet suggests that they may have been painted by an assistant. The technical examination at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, Cambridge during 2013 and 2014 included visual inspection under magnification, infra-red reflectography, x-radiography, raking light photography and pigment and medium analysis. Cleaning and removal of yellowed varnish revealed more of the original colours and painting style. It was found that the signature was contemporary with the creation of the portrait. The infra-red and x-ray images showed how the composition was changed during the execution of the work. The wood of the panel was identified as being from the poplar/willow family, and the pigments were found to include azurite, smalt and bone black. These findings are consistent with the practice of Rembrandt and his assistants. The changing of the composition and the quality of the brushwork revealed by the cleaning, in particular, are compelling evidence to suggest that the portrait is by Rembrandt himself. (Tania Adams & Emile de Bruijn)
Acquired by Prince Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein (1696-1772), Vienna; collection of the Princes of Liechtenstein, Vaduz, until at least 1948 (when exhibited at Lucerne); with Edward Speelman, London, 1960s; Harold Samuel, Baron Samuel of Wych Cross (1912 - 1987); acquired by the National Trust as a gift from the estate of the late Edna, Lady Samuel of Wych Cross (1918-2008), 2010.
Buckland Abbey (given from the estate of Edna, Lady Samuel of Wych Cross (1918-2008) to the National Trust in 2010)
Marks and inscriptions
Verso: White exhibition label: Kunstmuseum Luzern 1948 Meisterwerke aus den Sammlungen des Fursten von Liechtenstein Katalog Nr. 104 Verso: In black ink: 1635 and more crossed out with blue chalk across Verso: White label, maekedin blue in: 84 corresponds to its inventory number when it was in the Galerie Liechtenstein in Vienna and stamp
Makers and roles
Rembrandt van Rijn (Leyden 1606 – Amsterdam 1669), artist Rembrandt van Rijn (Leyden 1606 – Amsterdam 1669) (and studio?), artist previously catalogued as studio of Rembrandt van Rijn (Leyden 1606 – Amsterdam 1669), artist previously catalogued as possibly Govaert Teunisz. Flinck (Cleves 1615 – Amsterdam 1660), artist previously catalogued as attributed to Rembrandt van Rijn (Leyden 1606 – Amsterdam 1669), artist previously catalogued as by Rembrandt van Rijn (Leyden 1606 – Amsterdam 1669), artist
Dutch and Flemish masterpieces, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 2016 - 2017
Vosmaer 1868 C. Vosmaer, Rembrandt Harmensz. Van Rijn, sa vie at ses oeuvres, Le Haye, 1868, p. 508 Bode 1883 W. Bode, Studien zur Geschichte der holländischen Malerei, Braunschweig, 1883 , pp. 411, 576, no. 131 Dutuit, 1881-85 E. Dutuit, L'Oeuvre Complet de Rembrandt, Paris 1881 - 85, vol. III, p. 50, no. 141 Wurzbach 1886 A. von Wurzbach, Rembrandt Galerie, Stuttgart, 1886, no. 26 Michel 1893 E. Michel, Rembrandt. Sa vie, son oeuvre et son temps, Paris 1893, pp. 215, 560 Bode & Hofstede de Groot 1898 W. Bode and C. Hofstede de Groot, Rembrandt, Paris 1898 - 1900, vol. III, 1899, no.168 Moes 1897-1905 E. W. Moes, Iconographia Batava, Amsterdam, 1897-1905, no. 6693, p. 33 Hofstede de Groot 1907-28 C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century..., 1907-28, 8 vols., vol VI, 1916, no. 584, pp. 285-6 Valentier 1908 W. R. Valentier, Rembrandt des Meisters Gemälde, Berlin 1908 , p. 150, no. 174 Bredius 1935: A. Bredius, Rembrandt Gemälde, Vienna 1935 , no. 25 Gerson 1968 H. Gerson, Rembrandt Paintings, London 1968, no. 171 Lecaldano 1969 P. Lecaldano, The Complete Paintings of Rembrandt, London 1969, p. 103, no. 164 Tümpel 1986 Christian Tümpel, Rembrandt in Selstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten, Amsterdam 1986, no. A 64 Bruyn 1989 J. Bruyn et al. A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, 1635 - 1642 (RRP), Volume 3, 1989, Volume 3, no. C 92 Slatkes 1992 L. J. Slatkes, Rembrandt. Catalogo Completo dei Dipinti, Florence 1992, p. 378, no. 251 Wright 1982 Christopher Wright, Rembrandt Self-Portraits, 1982, no. 24, p. 41 & pl. 51 Wetering 2005 Ernst van de Wetering, A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, Self-portraits (RRP), Volume 4, 2005, p. 234 Duffy-Zebellos & Fletcher 2005 Lisa Duffy-Zebellos and Sharon Fletcher, "Three Questioned Rembrandts re-enter the Canon: More to Come" in International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) Journal, Volume 15, No. 2, 2014, p. 32-39