Permanent Collection Videos

Of the many self-portraits Rembrandt painted over a lifetime, this is perhaps the greatest, not only for its poignant revelations of the self, but for his sure handling of paint. The initial effect on viewers is daunting, as though they are confronting an ill-tempered monarch. The strange costume he wears is timeless. In place of a crown, he wears a large velvet artist's beret. He holds a painter's stick as though it were a scepter. Yet this feeling of uneasy confrontation diminishes as we study the face.

Hans Holbein came to London from Switzerland in 1526, only a year before he dated this portrait. With a letter of introduction from the philosopher Erasmus, Holbein entered the rarefied circle of Sir Thomas More (1477/78-1535) and was soon living near him in Chelsea. More, in a letter back to Erasmus, spoke of Holbein as "a wonderful artist." Famed as a humanist scholar and author of the Utopia, More was a powerful statesman as well. By this time, he had already served Henry VIII as privy councillor for over a decade and became his lord chancellor in 1529.

This silent video about Giovanni Bellini's St. Francis in the Desert was created by Susannah Rutherglen, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow at The Frick Collection, in conjunction with the Frick's New Media Specialist, Lisa Candage, and Metropolitan Museum of Art Paintings Conservator Charlotte Hale, who oversaw the recent technical study. Five videos were produced for the Frick's exhibition, In a New Light: Bellini's St. Francis in the Desert, which was on view from May 22 through August 28, 2011.