The Frick Collection
Rembrandt and His School: Masterworks from the Frick and  Lugt Collections February 15, 2011, through May 15, 2011

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Special Exhibition

Rembrandt and His School: Masterworks from the Frick and
Lugt Collections

February 15, 2011, through May 15, 2011

Partial Show Extension: Works on loan from the Lugt Collection will remain on view in the Lower-Level Exhibition Galleries through May 22. See a Virtual Tour of the paintings in the Oval Room.


Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669)
Oil on canvas
The Frick Collection

In a final pitch the art dealer Charles Carstairs, head of Knoedler's London office, dispatched a breathless letter to Frick on November 23, 1906: "I have pictured it in your gallery since first beginning negotiations for it four months ago. It is the greatest single portrait existing and…is a portrait of Rembrandt himself. It is most powerful, grand, monumental. If only you could see the picture over your mantel, dominating the entire gallery, just as you dominate those you come into contact with…."

This is the largest of Rembrandt's many self-portraits, painted when he was fifty-two years old. The paint is applied thickly in rich layers, with broken surfaces, highlights, and glazes that confirm how carefully thought out Rembrandt's "rough manner" was. Executed during a period of constraint and adversity, at a time when Rembrandt had declared bankruptcy, and was obliged to sell his vast collections, this magisterial self-portrait presents the aging artist in historical and exotic costume. Rembrandt portrays himself in a golden-yellow pleated jerkin, worn over a linen shirt, fastened diagonally. An ornamental neck cloth is tucked into the front of the jerkin, and a red sash is wound twice around his waist. In his left hand, the artist holds a silver-tipped jointed rattan cane. Rembrandt is not shown working but attired in sixteenth-century costume that would have conjured associations with artists of the Northern Renaissance. Yet the poignancy of the artist's representation of himself remains. As was noted when the painting was exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1909, "it is the head of an old lion at bay, worn and melancholy, yet conscious of his strength, determined and a little defiant."


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