Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-portrait in a soft hat, an etching

Rembrandt, Self-portrait

Height: 148.000 mm
Width: 130.000 mm

PD 1842-8-6-134 (Hind 54, Bartsch 7)

In 1631 Rembrandt moved from Leiden to Amsterdam in order to work for Hendrick van Uylenburgh, and established himself as a portrait painter. Over the previous three years he had made some experimental portrait etchings, but this self-portrait is more formal. Rembrandt was conscious of the fame achieved by Rubens and van Dyck, his older colleagues in the southern Netherlands. He has adopted the pose and hat of Rubens' Self-portrait, which was engraved by Pontius, and wears highly fashionable clothes. However, the manner of etching with irregular scratched marks is entirely his own and far removed from the style of Pontius' engraving.

The lace collar and cloak are added by Rembrandt in black chalk, as are the signature, the date and his age, given as 27. He then corrected the age to 24, as he was in 1631. He did not adopt this form of signature, using his full name, until 1633, so it is possible that in 1631 he had printed from the copper plate before it was finished, showing his head isolated on the page in the manner of van Dyck's etched Self-portrait of about 1630. Only in 1633-34 would he have then added the black chalk sketch, perhaps as he was working on his painted Self-portrait, now in Glasgow, which is dated 1634 and resembles the composition of this etching.

There are eleven known states of the plate, which is among the most courtly images of himself, made by Rembrandt at a time when he was in contact with the court of the Prince of Orange in The Hague.