- Museum number
Self-portrait of Rembrandt, in cap, open mouthed, bust in profile to left but facing front; first state with rough plate edges. 1630
Etching and drypoint, printed from a dirty plate
- Production date
Height: 52 millimetres
Width: 46 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- For copies see 1852,0214.235 and 1925,0511.186.
Selected Literature: Benesch 1926, p. 6; Chapman 1990, pp. 19, 21; Berlin-Amsterdam-London 1991-2, pp. 170-72, no. 1; London-The Hague 1999-2000, no. 20; White 1999, p. 117.
Hinterding et al. 2000:
The 'Self-portrait with beret, wide-eyed' is one of a small group of etchings made in 1630 in which Rembrandt used his own likeness to depict various facial expressions. Three other etchings show Rembrandt frowning (1925,0615.23), laughing and open-mouthed (F,5.126). These prints are not so much self-portraits as studies in expression, which could serve both Rembrandt himself and his pupils as models.
It was important for a history painter to be able to render feelings and emotions in biblical, mythological and allegorical scenes. Samuel van Hoogstraten, a pupil of Rembrandt's in the 1640s and author of the 'Inleyding tot de Hooge Schools der Schilderkonst' of 1678, advised young artists: "You will also find the same assistance in expressing passions by using what you have before you, chiefly by being at the same time actor and spectator in front of a mirror" (Hoogstraten 1678, p. 110; "Dezelve baet zalmen ook in 't uitbeelden van diens hartstochten, die gy voorhebt, bevinden, voornaemlijk voor een spiegel om tegelijk vertooner en aenschouwer te zijn"). Van Hoogstraten may well have been given this advice by his teacher, who demonstrated this approach in the four prints.
In the present 'Self-portrait' the face occupies a large part of the small area of the picture. The way that the portrait is cut off at the upper edge and the fact that the face is rendered slightly from below reinforce the impression of surprise and amazement, as if the artist has tilted his head up and back in a swift gesture. A comparable expression can be seen on the face of the astonished figure on the right of the etching made in around 1632 of the 'Raising of Lazarus' (1848,0911.35 and F,4.151), although the mouth is slightly more open. The same sort of wonderment can also be seen in the print after a drawing by Rembrandt that Houbraken used in order to illustrate a passage on the life of the artist: in it one of the disciples at the Supper at Emmaus stares wide-eyed at Christ's disappearance (Houbraken 1718-21, I, p. 258).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1992 Mar-May, London, National Gallery, 'Rembrandt'
1994/5 Oct-Jan, Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Face to Face...
1999 Jun-Sep, London, National Gallery, Rembrandt by Himself
2000/1 Oct-Jan, London, Hayward Gallery, 'Spectacular Bodies'
2006 Apr-Jun, Hull, Ferens AG (Sth Bank Tour), Rembrandt
2006 Jun-Sep, Bath, Victoria AG (Sth Bank Tour), Rembrandt
2006 Oct-Dec, Newcastle, Laing AG (Sth Bank Tour), Rembrandt
2007 Apr-Jun, Stoke-on-Trent, Potteries MAG (Sth Bank Tour), Rembrandt
2007 Jun-Sep, Blackpool, Grundy AG (Sth Bank Tour), Rembrandt
2014 Jun-Oct, Suffolk, Gainsborough's House, Rembrandt the Print Maker
2019 7 Feb-4 Aug, BM, G90, 'Rembrandt: thinking on paper'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1973,U.769