Rembrandt van Rijn: Saskia

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669)
Saskia(?) Sitting Up in Bed, Holding a Child
c. 1635
Red chalk
Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978

This sketch of a mother glimpsed from behind bed curtains cradling a newborn child almost certainly depicts the artist's wife, Saskia, probably with the couple's firstborn son, Rumbartus, who died in infancy. Rembrandt frequently drew such intimate scenes of daily life as reference material for his paintings and prints. The rapid strokes of soft red chalk suggest the spontaneity with which he recorded this tender moment.