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Rethinking Rembrandt

Rethinking Rembrandt Edited by Alan Chong and Michael Zell

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Waanders Publishers, Zwolle

Fenway Court vol. 30 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum This collection of essays is based on a symposium held in October 2000 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in conjunction with the exhibition

Rembrandt Creates Rembrandt: Art and Ambition in Leiden 1629 - 1631. This publication is made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Publishing: Waanders Publishers, Zwolle Editing: Cynthia Purvis Design: Roelof Koebrugge bNO Printing: Waanders Printers, Zwolle Š 2002 Uitgeverij Waanders b .v., Zwolle I Isabella Stewart Gardner

Museum, Boston All rights reserved . No part of the contents of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any other information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the copyright holders. ISBN 90 400 9673 2 NUGI 921, 911 Information about Waanders Publishers can be found on www.waanders .nl

Cover: Rembrandt, Portrait ofJan Six, 1654. Oil on ca nvas. Six Collection , Amsterdam.


6 8

Notes on the contributors Acknowledgm ents


Introduction: Why Rethink Rembrandt? Michael Zell


Rembrandt and Saskia: Art, Commerce, and the Poetics of Portraiture Stephanie S. Dickey


Bridal Decorum and Dangerous Looks: Rembrandt's Wedding Feast of Samson (1638) H. Rodney Nevitt, Jr.


Homer, Raphael, Rembrandt: Reading Vulcan 's Net Amy Golahny


Accidents Will Happen: The Case of The Nightwatch Margaret D. Carroll


Rembrandt van Rijn and Gerrit Dou: An Evolving Relationship? Ivan Gaskell


Works Do Not Make an Oeuvre: Rembrandt's Self-Portraits as a Category Charles Ford


A Business Partner and a Pupil: Two Conjectural Essays on Rembrandt's Entourage John Michael Montias


Rembrandt's Declaration of Bankruptcy Paul Crenshaw


The Gift Among Friends: Rembrandt's Art in the Network of His Patronal and Social Relations Michael Zell


Rembrandt in the Nineties Catherine B. Scallen

208 248 258

Notes Bibliography Index 5

Notes on the contributors

Alan Ch ong is the Norma Jean Calderwood Curator of the Collection at

the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Co-author of Still-Life Paintings from the Netherlands, 1550 - 1720 (1999), he edited Rembrandt Creates Rembrandt (2000) and Cosme Tura (2002), exhibition catalogues of the

Gardner Museum. Michae l Zell is associate professor of art history at Boston University.

He is the author of Reframing Rembrandt: Jews and the Christian Image in Seventeenth - Century Amsterdam (2002). His next book is For the Love

of Art: Liefhebbers, Amateurs and Gift Exchange in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art.

Ste phanie S . Dickey is associate professor of art history at Indiana

University-Purdue University Indianapolis. She is the author of "Women holding handkerchiefs in seventeenth-century Dutch portraits (Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, 1995) and "Van Dyck in Holland: The Iconography

and its impact on Rembrandt and Lievens" (Van Dyck 1599 - 1999, 2001). She is currently writing a book on Remb randt's portrait etchings. H . Rodney Nevitt, Jr. is associate professor of art history, University of

Houston. He is the author of "Rembrandt's hidden lovers" (Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, 1997), "Vermeer on the question oflove" (The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer, 2001), and Art and the Culture of Love in Seventeenth-Century Holland (2002) .

Amy Golahny is associate professor of art history at Lycoming College,

Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She is the author of "Rubens' Hero and Leander and its poetic progeny (Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin, 1990)

and "Rembrandt's Artemisia: Arts patron (Oud Holland, 2000). Her forthcoming book is Rembrandt's Reading. Margaret D. Carroll is professor of art history at Wellesley College. Her

dissertation is a study of The N ightwatch. More recently, sh e is the author of "Rembrandt as meditational print maker (Art Bulletin, 1981) an d "Civic ideology and its subversions: Rembrandt's Oath of Claudius Civilis (Art History, 1986).





Ivan Gaskell is Margaret S. Winthrop Curator at the Fogg Art Museum,

Harvard University. He is the author of "Gerrit Dou, his patrons, and the art of painting" (Oxford Art Journal, 1982), the catalogue of Dutch and Flemish paintings in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (1990), and Vermeer's Wager: Speculations on Art History, Theory and Art Museums

(2000). Charles Ford is lecturer in the history of art at University College

London. He is the author of the Blue Guide: Amsterdam (2000) and "People as property" (Oxford ArtJournal, 2002). He is currently writing, with Bruce Boucher, Art in Theory, 1450 - 1675. John Michael Montias is professor emeritus of economics at Yale

University. He is the author of Artists and Artisans in Delft (1982), Vermeer and His Milieu : A Web of Social History (1989), and with John Loughman, Public and Private Spaces: Works of Art in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Houses (2000) .

Paul Crenshaw is assistant professor of art history and archaeology at

Washington University in Saint Louis. His dissertation is "Rembrandt's Bankruptcy" (2000), and he is an author of Rembrandt, Beyond the Brush: Master Prints from the Weil Collection (1999). He is writing a book on

Rembrandt's paintings for Antonio Ruffo. Catherine B. Scallen is associate professor of art history at Case Western

Reserve University, Cleveland. She is the author of "Rembrandt and the Northern Renaissance" (In Detail: New Studies of Northern Renaissance Art in Honor of Walter S. Gibson, 1998) and "Rembrandt's reformation of a

Catholic subject: The repentant and the penitent Saint Jerome" (Sixteenth Century Journal, 1999). She is completing a book, Rembrandt, Reputation, and the Practice of Connoisseurship.



Most of the essays in this volume were presented in October 2000 at a symposium held at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in conjunction with the exhibition Rembrandt Creates Rembrandt: Art and Ambition in Leiden, 1629 - 1631 . We owe an enormous debt to The Andrew W. Mellon

Foundation who supported the exhibition, the symposium, and this publication. The torrent of exhibitions on Rembrandt continues. The large survey exhibitions held in Berlin, Amsterdam, and London in 1991 were followed by exhibitions in Stockholm (1992), New York (an in-house exhibition: 1995), and Melbourne and Canberra (1997). Exhibitions have explored

Rembrandt's self-portraits (London and The Hague, 1999), prints (Amsterdam and London, 2000), depictions of women (Edinburgh and London, 2001), and his youthful work (Kassel and Amsterdam, 2001-2); yet another survey will be held in Boston in 2003. The Gardner Museum's own exhibition (2000) was only a small part of this remarkable new wave of popularity. Much interesting work has been accomplished in these exhibitions, but it is remarkable that exhibition catalogues have featured so many of the same writers, and how often issues of attribution and technique have been the principal focus. One goal of our symposium, therefore, was to highlight the work of emerging Rembrandt scholars - younger writers who had not yet published extensively on Rembrandt. We therefore hope to dispel some of the intimidating aspects of Rembrandt research, which, for better or worse, has been dominated for the past two decades by a handful of scholars, with discussion tending to focus on the attribution of problematic paintings, on the traditional conceptions of categories and genres, or on theoretical issues.




The editors are of course grateful to all the authors for their insightful contributions, and their hard work in preparing this volume. The symposium audience in Boston participated in a lively discussion that contributed significantly to the development of this volume. In particular, the moderator, Egbert Haverkamp Begemann, provided a finely tuned critical commentary that greatly enhanced the final written contributions. Warm thanks are due Anne Hawley, Cynthia Purvis, Rich Lingner, Kristin Parker, Kate Harper, Susan Olsen, and Waanders Publishers . This volume marks a change in the format of Fenway Court, which began in 1966 as the Gardner Museum's annual scholarly periodical, and since 1992 has acted as the proceedings of the museum 's symposia. Fen way Court will become an occasional series, still based on symposia and workshops, but more flexible in concept and format, to be independently produced by a variety of publishers.


Why Rethink Rembrandt?

Michael Zell

Rethink Rembrandt? The question may at first seem preposterous given the veritable industry surrounding Rembrandt. Scholarly investigations have deepened and complicated our understanding of his artistic achievement, professional and social status in seventeenth-century Holland, changing critical fortunes, and stature as a canonical figure of the Western tradition. Seemingly larger than life in his own time, famously profligate, and publicly bankrupt, Rembrandt certainly was an exceptional figure. Yet while still revered as a heroic cultural phenomenon, he can no longer be portrayed anachronistically as a preternaturally Romantic genius unappreciated by his contemporaries. We now recognize Rembrandt as an ambi tious and highly self-conscious artist whose career unfolded largely within the cultural and social expectations of his culture. Nonetheless, conceptualizations of Rembrandt and his oeuvre are ultimately constructions. And any effort to reconstruct an essentially irretrievable past is a dynamic process that continually generates new paradigms of inquiry while inevitably leaving some questions unanswered. The academics, museum curators, archivists, conservators, or committees of scholars who undertake such research also may produce differing representations not easily integrated with narratives of Rembrandt's career or historical agency. The layers of meaning and association that constitute the "Rembrandt aura," moreover, make historical research a difficult enterprise. But one issue has increasingly animated and vexed efforts to define the historical Rembrandt: How to provide a rigorously contextual account for an artist of such uniqueness and apparent transparency to contemporary sensibilities? A brief survey of significant developments in the field might help us to arrive at a clearer picture of the situation. No recent event in Rembrandt scholarship has exerted as deep and pervasive an impact on the worlds of 10


academia, museums, and mainstream culture as the Rembrandt Research Project. Founded in 1968 by a team of five Amsterdam scholars, this government-sponsored Dutch organization endeavored to apply rigorous and purportedly objective standards of examination to paintings attributed to Rembrandt in an effort to determine a corpus of authentic works. The results of its investigations, up to now covering only the period 1625 to 1642 in three volumes, have been both illuminating and controversial. Initially the Project's team ofresearchers invested high hopes in the promise of technology-x-radiography, dendrochronology, infrared reflectography, determination of canvas thread density, microchemistry (chemical analysis of paint cross-sections), autoradiography, and even forensic handwriting analysis-for authenticating paintings and thus purging "Rembrandtesque" works from Rembrandt's autograph oeuvre. But such hopes were largely unfulfilled. In fact, these supposedly objective scientific measures established that many works clearly not painted by Rembrandt himself actually date from his own time and are indistinguishable materially from his paintings. With such inconclusive results, stylistic and forma l analyses of the connoisseurial eye remained primary criteria for deciding authenticity (albeit performed collectively). Josua Bruyn, the original team's most prominent member, articulated their disappointment when he labeled the naked eye "a relatively primitive tool." 1 While the Project's goal of objectivity proved elusive, the volumes of the Corpus nonetheless proclaimed judgments with emphatic certitude. In the team's pursuit of its mission to definitively establish Rembrandt's corpus, almost all paintings were assigned to either an A category of accepted works or a C category of rejected ones. The B category of paintings for which Rembrandt's authorship could not be securely established or rejected, by contrast, contains few (volume 2 lists only one B painting). As many urged, the team's conception of Rembrandt ought to have been more flexible, its adjudications and conclusions less doctrinaire. 2 Ernst




van de Wetering, the only remaining member of the Project, has indicated that subsequent volumes will modify this rigidity. 3 Moreover, in a recent exhibition in Kassel and Amsterdam, Der Junge Rembrandt: Ratsel um seine Anfange (poetically translated as The Mystery of the Young Rembrandt) van de Wetering changed his mind about several significant

early paintings. 4 These changes of heart, like the various shifting pronouncements on icons such as The Polish Rider, have had an unsettling effect on Rembrandt scholarship.5 Whatever the disputes with the Project's composition, procedures, or conclusions, the Corpus volumes are highly informative, meticulously researched, and thus fundamental contributions. Moreover, looking at Rembrandt's art may never again be quite as innocent, for the Project's impact on the academic and museum worlds has been profound. Parallel investigations are currently underway among collections of Rembrandt's drawings, as are investigations of the watermarks of his printed oeuvre. The focus on attribution has also been showcased to the public in recent monographic Rembrandt exhibitions. 6 On one hand, the Project's retooled connoisseurship has shifted attention away from Rembrandt's uniqueness by underscoring the diffusion of his pictorial style among pupils and followers and situating the operations of his studio in the context of traditional workshop practices of seventeenthcentury Holland. Indeed, the Project, especially the work of van de Wetering, has revealed the conventionality of Rembrandt's working procedures and materials (at least in the earlier phases of his career), and has cast new light on his supervision of a studio whose production can be virtually indistinguishable from that of his own hand. Yet it has also reinforced the perception of Rembrandt's extraordinary singularity. By subjecting Rembrandt's paintings to such intensive scientific and visual scrutiny, and by introducing ever finer, more discriminating criteria for evaluation, the Project reconfirmed the idea of the qualitative superiority of Rembrandt's art and its essential uniqueness. To divert discussion from this preoccupation with attribution, several scholars have undertaken to reconsider Rembrandt's status as an artist in the social and cultural fabric of seventeenth -century Holland. Gary Schwartz attempted to relate Rembrandt's paintings and the vicissitudes of his career to the clan politics and factionalism that dominated the oligarchy of Dutch regents and patricians. 7 Drawing on the archival research of I. H. van Eeghen and S. A. C. Dudok van Heel, Schwartz portrayed Rembrandt as having failed in his ambition to be a painter for the Dutch stadhouder and the Amsterdam patriciate. According to Schwartz, Rembrandt's professional and personal conduct conflicted with the rules 12



of the system of clientage and patronage prevalent among such wealthy and powerful collectors. Svetlana Alpers, on the other hand, has argued for Rembrandt's preternatural insight as a "pictor economicus" - a genius-entrepreneur of the emerging market economy of seventeenthcentury Amsterdam. 8 In her view, Rembrandt successfully developed his distinctive manner and his personal aura as assertions of his authority and independence on the marketplace. Schwartz's and Alpers' important revisionist studies have been criticized for subsuming Rembrandt's art to a model of clientage and political factionalism, or for reducing his artistic ideals to a proto-capitalist entrepreneurialism.9 By rendering Rembrandt either as a contentious outsider to the Dutch clientage system, or a wholly autonomous precursor of Adam Smith's economic man, Schwartz and Alpers might also be said to continue to mythologize him as a figure somehow incompatible or out of step (either negatively or positively) with his culture and society. More recent books confront directly the tensions involved in reconciling the historical Rembrandt with the seemingly timeless appeal of his art as the embodiment of his individuality. In varying ways, Perry Chapman, Simon Schama, and Mariet Westermann each defy what Schama calls the "anachronism police" by revitalizing, in some respects, the Romantic view of Rembrandt as a heroic individualist deliberately flouting social and aesthetic conventions to speak directly, authentically to audiences across the ages . Chapman interprets the self-portraits as ego-documents comprising a comprehensive autobiography that chronicles Rembrandt's initially "unformed, protean self" to climax with his later art's expression of authentic individuality. 10 Paradoxically, the historian Schama has most openly derided historical determinism, proclaiming the transcendent truth of the artist-genius in his book about Rembrandt's "long journey to singularity." 11 Westermann writes that, despite the advances in research of Rembrandt's practice, his network of patrons and collectors, and his pictorial sources, "it remains difficult to reduce him to the sum of his sources, techniques and social circumstances." 12 Similarly to Schama's text, Westermann's monograph valorizes the personal character of Rembrandt's late art, concluding that "introspective art has a history, and Rembrandt can anchor us in it." 13 Yet surprisingly Rembrandt's uniqueness and the apparently personal, intimate character of much of his work have not received the sustained scholarly attention they require. The psychological language often used to describe his imagery and evoke his personality-introspective, personal, authentic, reflective, outcast, honest-can ring as anachronisms reminiscent of the most extravagantly Romantic characterizations, including Wilhelm Bode's lines of 1891: "Rembrandt was a true child-spirit who 13



lived entirely in his own world, and therefore, in the innocent manner of a true arti tic genius, was often painfully tested and abused when he came into hostile contact with the outside world. "14 Neither Rembrandt's art nor his character was ever described with such words in his own day, nor for that matter was any other figure. Moreover, in Rembrandt's time the term genius referred to native, inborn talent, only acquiring the more specific meaning of transcendent artistic or intellectual gifts late in the seventeenth century. 15 As Alan Chong has noted, the early Romantics Henry Fuseli and William Hazlitt devoted more attention to Rembrandt than to any other figure, suggesting that the artist may have contributed to the formation of the later concept of genius. 16 How, then, are we to approach Rembrandt's exceptionality? o one would argue seriously that Rembrandt was determined by the cultural, social, political, or economic conditions of seventeenth-century Holland. But a confluence of historical circumstance and individual personality must have made possible the phenomenon of Rembrandt. An inclusive conceptual framework is therefore needed that locates him squarely within the nexus of his cultural and social worlds without compromising the exceptional nature of his achievement and legacy. For some artists this has never been problematic. Rembrandt's contemporaries Rubens, Bernini, and Velazquez, for example, developed highly individual styles and cultivated distinct professional persona that parlayed into successful careers as court artists. But other contemporary artists have suffered fates similar to Rembrandt's. Caravaggio, upon whom the early classicist critics of Rembrandt based their characterizations and denunciations of his art,17 has often been misread as a forerunner of the later image of the rebellious and subversive artist. Salvator Rosa, who chafed under the strictures of traditional patronage, declaring absolute autonomy for his artistic vision, also seems more a figure of the nineteenth than the seventeenth century. Clearly the procedures and assumptions of art history become strained when integrating such personalities with a meticulously historical account of their careers. One task of Rembrandt scholarship, then, is to interpret the disparate fea tures of his art and life as aspects of a unified whole. That would mean attending to both Rembrandt's conventionality and his idiosyncrasy with a notion of history flexible and dynamic enough to accommodate a figure who not only was shaped by his world, but contributed to its horizon of expectations. It is hoped that this volume will begin to move us closer to such a framework of understanding.

*** 14



The ten essays in this volume depart from the recent focus on Rembrandt attributions by posing new questions about Rembrandt's art, or by revisiting lingering issues. Most were delivered on 14 October 2000 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in a symposium accompanying the exhibition Rembrandt Creates Rembrandt: Art and Ambition in Leiden, 1629 - 1631. The symposium was conceived as a forum for new ideas

about Rembrandt and one of its intentions was to highlight the work of scholars who have not yet published extensively on the artist. Participants were encouraged to deploy innovative, even speculative perspectives that might broaden the frame of reference for Rembrandt studies. Each paper takes a different vantage point, focusing on distinctive features, moments, conditions, themes, or perceptions of Rembrandt's art. They all bring a historically nuanced perspective to Rembrandt without diminishing his authorial significance or the unique status of his art.



Rembrandt and Saskia: Art, Commerce, and the Poetics of Portraiture

Stephanie S. Dickey

In three etchings of the mid-1630s, Rembrandt sketched female heads in clusters that appear at once casual and thoughtfully ordered (figs . 19 -22). Anchoring the composition in two cases is the youthful face of a woman identifiable as Saskia van Uylenburgh, Rembrandt's wife from 1634 until her death in 1642. These printed studies have been associated with the didactic illustrations in drawing manuals, yet far surpass them in emulating the spontaneity of a sketch in pen or chalk . Less discussed but equally significant is the presence of Saskia, which adds to the unconventionality of Rembrandt's approach by confounding the traditionally generic status of the artist's model, and of the exempla these etchings suggest. By examining this group of prints and other key works, this essay will consider the implications of Saskia's likeness as a recurrent motif in paintings and etchings created by Rembrandt during the years of their marriage and as a marketable commodity valued outside the conventions of formal portraiture. It was not uncommon in the seventeenth century for artists, especially

portraitists, to produce likenesses of both themselves and their spouses. A portrait of the painter's wife, like a self-portrait, could serve as proof of the husband's skill, especially if kept in the studio, where it could readily be compared with the original. This practice is cleverly thematized in occupational portraits depicting an artist painting members of his family, a construct that also alludes to the transience of earthly life while affirming the power of art to transcend time. Rembrandt might have seen an early example, Jacob van Oostsanen's self-portrait of 1530 showing him painting a portrait of his wife (fig . 1), although Rembrandt is unlikely to have known that the wife's portrait was added later, possibly by their son, Dirk Jacobsz, over a self-portrait of van Oostsanen. 1 This palimpsest sets the stage for the present discussion, for Rembrandt's own self-portraits, <

Detail of fig. 22.

unprecedented in their volume and variety, constitute the one truly unique 17



Jacob van Oostsanen (an d/or Dirk Jaco bsz),Jacob van

Oostsanen Painting a Portrait of His Wife, 1550. Oi l on woo d. To ledo Museum of Art.

feature of his work; they circulated both in the original as well as in copies and variants by his studio associates. In this context, his versatile, inventive approach to portraying his spouse is of particular interest. While many of Rembrandt's contemporaries took pleasure in representing themselves and their families in the same poses and settings employed for their patrons, it appears that Rembrandt never depicted Saskia in a conventional formal portrait. There is always something, if only a veil, a hat, or an enigmatic expression, that makes us wonder whether we are meant to focus on the real woman or the role she plays. This is especially curious in light of his evident skill and success in single and pair portraiture, a category that dominated his production during the early years of their marriage. Yet, significantly, the same playfulness colored his selfportraits and inspired similar works by his associates and successors. 2 Thus, the present discussion will not be concerned with traditional marriage pendants or portrayals of the artist's wife as bourgeois matron, but 18




i 2

with images in which her personal identity is disguised by costume,

Remb ra nd t, Portrait of Saskia,

attributes, or the acting of a role . Here, the wife's function comes closer to

1633. Silverpoint on parch-

that of a professional model, but it is not the same, for she is not necessar-

m ent. Kupferst ichkabin ett,

ily anonymous.

St aatliche Museen zu Be r lin . Benesch 427.

It is impossible to define exactly how many works by Rembrandt (and by others in his studio) actually represent Saskia, or were intended to be seen


to. It is generally acknowledged that th e most reliable indicator of her

Remb ra ndt, Self-Portrait with

appearance must be the silverpoint drawing inscribed by Rembrandt

Saskia, 1636. Etching.

shortly after their betrothal in 1633 (fig. 2).3 Also convincing is the etching

Ri jksmuseum , Amste rdam.

of 1636 (fig. 3) depicting Rembrandt seated with a woman resembling th e

Bartsch 19.

woman in the drawing, in a configuration too much like a conjugal double portrait not to be one. On the basis of these images, contextual evidence, and some wishful thinking, Saskia's likeness has been tr aced in drawings recording the life of Rembrandt's family and studio, in painted historical scenes, an d especially in painted and etched tronies - the popular singlefigure subjects in which attributes of costume or setting suggest literary, symbolic, or historical associations. While some individual paintings have been closely analyzed, and an important recent exhibition explored th e 19



larger theme of Rembrandt's depictions of women, no synthetic account of Saskia's role in Rembrandt's oeuvre has been attempted since the late nineteenth century. 4 Many questions remain open to debate. Certainly, Rembrandt's portrayals of his wife required her acquiescence, even her active cooperation in costuming and pose. Was she merely a compliant model and no more? How did these works contribute to Rembrandt's artistic agenda? How did Saskia's functions as model and muse compare with those of other artists' wives, both historical and contemporaneous? When do Rembrandt's heroines actually represent his Frisian bride, and when are they other women, or simply generic ideals? How would the recognizability of her likeness within a historical narrative or character study have affected contemporaries' understanding and appreciation of the image? Recent interpretations have debated whether Rembrandt's idealized images of Saskia should be seen as (personal) portraits or (public) generic types. By understanding them, and the pictorial type to which they belong, as a visual parallel to the poetic idealization of the beloved, I propose that we may fruitfully see them as both. In teasing out their content, I am especially interested in the creative dialogue between Rembrandt's depictions of Saskia and his protean representations of himself. In the copious literature on Rembrandt's life and art, Saskia van Uylenburgh remains a mysterious figure . Like most women of her time, Saskia is known to history not by personality or accomplishments, but by family ties, traced in the impersonal records of birth, betrothal, baptism, and burial. Unlike most, however, she was the wife of a celebrated artist who cultivated the limelight. Caught in its reflected glare, her private life became public, conducted amid the bustle of Rembrandt's busy studio (shared, at first, with her cousin Hendrick van Uylenburgh), and within the aura of his forceful personality. Even her relations with her own family were not exempt: when the van Uylenburghs accused her of squandering her inheritance, Rembrandt insisted on suing them for libel, demanding compensation for the affront to both his wife's good name and his own. 5 Of Rembrandt's character, we have documentary glimpses that suggest a combustible blend of parsimony and acquisitiveness, irascibility and affectionate humor, reticence and pride. Of Saskia, there is little beyond the platitudes of scarce legal testaments, most significantly her last will, signed just a few days before her death in 1642, in which she dismisses the Chamber of Orphans and entrusts entirely to Rembrandt the guardianship of the infant Titus and his inheritance. On this scant but evocative evidence, romantic biographers as well as responsible histori20


ans have constructed her relationship with Rembrandt as a passionate and tragic love affair. 6 Her affiliation with a prominent Frisian family has been implicated in Rembrandt's social ambitions and in the financial and personal debacle of his middle age. His lavish spending has been attributed to the extravagance of a husband trying to please a pampered wife, his unconventional behavior in later years to the frustrations of a widower trapped by a legacy that prevented him from remarrying. His depictions of Saskia's appearance have prompted subjective assumptions about her character: sweet, good-natured, innocent, a well-bred but provincial country lass dazzled by the famous artist and his urbane milieu. The blend of archival fact and novelistic speculation that fuels these interpretations has been tempered by more objective recent scholarship (which, for instance, diminishes the social and financial gap b etween them), yielding some insights into the personal context within which Rembrandt's remarkable career unfolded. Significantly, as several biographers have pointed out, it appears that Rembrandt had little contact with his own family after he left Leiden: it was Saskia's relatives who stood witness to their marriage and to the baptisms of their children and who maintained friendships with the young couple in Amsterdam. For the brief period of his marriage, Rembrandt's role as a van Uylenburgh in-law must have been as consequential to his daily life as was his business relationship with Saskia's cousin Hendrick van Uylenburgh, under whose roof he courted success, and Saskia, in the early 1630s.7 Meanwhile, for Rembrandt, the practice of casting family members in evocative pictorial roles was a lifelong interest. It had b egun in his earliest years, in Leiden, with the essential narcissism of youth: the repeated mapping of his parents' aged heads and of his own mercurial face. Numerous drawn and etched studies of the patient face of his mother, N eeltgen van Zuytbroeck, record the collaboration of determined student and maternal model, the son's affection competing with the artist's merciless eye (fig. 4). Like his first self-portraits, which explore the motility of the facial features, these works have less to do with the portrayal of personal identity than with the young history painter's interest in marshalling the techniques of needle, chalk, and brush to describe human ch aracter and its effect on physiognomy. Later in life, Saskia and then Hendrickje Stoffels provide the template for Rembrandt's pictorial exploration offeminine chara cter, while Titus plays the role of model child and pupil. 8 While it seems likely that other family members were also called into service, modern scholarship has rejected the unsubstantiated attempts of nineteenth-century cataloguers to identify various painted figures as Rembrandt's siblings. Circumstances suggest that van Uylenburgh siblings would be a better guess, but there is no corroborating evidence of their looks . 21



4 Rembrandt, The Artist's Mother

Seated at a Table, ca. 163 I . Etching. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Bartsch 343 .


Rembrandt, Sheet of Studies

with Saskia in Bed, ca. 1641 . Etching.The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. Bartsch 369.

路, v \ \ \






It is in drawings that Rembrandt's depictions of his wife come closest to home. The engaging silverpoint portrait (fig. 2) is followed by a sequence of sketchier, more anecdotal sheets- a heartbreaking chronicle of rapid decline from radiant fiancee to bedridden invalid. Although they sometimes led to figural solutions in larger compositions, and eventually became collector's items, these sketches must have served initially as private notations rather than marketable objects. As such, they are tangential to the present study. Significantly, however, some of their spontaneity carries over into etchings, where Saskia impersonates historical characters but also, surprisingly, appears again in her sickbed (fig. 5). 9 While Rembrandt's combination of disparate motifs in some etchings has a programmatic purpose (see fig. 24), Saskia's appearance here among beggars and characters in picturesque headgear remains unexplained. Perhaps this print demonstrates Rembrandt's mastery of drawing both naar het leven (Saskia in bed) and uyt den gheest (caricatures conjured from habit and imagination). 10 Perhaps it is simpler: Rembrandt, sketching by the bedside, records what he sees both inside and outside the window. His wife, young and privileged but exhausted by illness, dozes fitfully as aged beggars and busy merchants pass in the street. Is he meditating on the passage oftime? The unfairness of fate? Contemporaries, accustomed to the ubiquity of vanitas imagery, might well have read this ironic juxtaposition as deliberate . In a pivotal motif, Rembrandt captures Saskia as she raises her head from the pillow to meet his (and later our) gaze. Even in her most private moments, she is both the product of and witness to his creative power. While such a motif seems startlingly direct, it is likely that many of the female figures in Rembrandt's paintings and prints reflect a blend of real ity and imagination. Although more committed to naturalism than many of his contemporaries, Rembrandt was not immune to the theoretical advice that art should temper observation with aesthetic judgment. Like Rubens, he developed a generic feminine ideal based more or less on the physical traits of his beloved. Attempts to see Saskia (or, later, Hendrickje) in every heroine of his historical paintings (Artemisia, Delilah, Bathsheba, et al.) are thus misguided, and most recent analyses are rightly circumspect in this regard. The sturdy Bellona (Metropolitan Museum of Art,

ew York),

for instance, was long considered to be Saskia in disguise (it was even once thought, without foundation, that a nude portrait of her appears beneath the armor), but is now recognized as a stouter, blonder type. 11 Although the two paintings depicting the arcadian goddess Flora, completed in 1634 and 1635 (figs. 12, 9), have traditionally been interpreted as role portraits of Saskia, it is difficult to see them as the same woman. Yet, in some cases, of which the 1634 Flora is one, the resemblance seems too strong to ignore.




Controversial in its conflation of histor y, genre, and portraiture is the


painting of ab out 1635 in w hich Rembrandt appears as a jovial Prodigal

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait with

Son (fig . 6) . While it mig ht be arg ued th at he was simply serving himself

Saskia in a Tavern (Th e Prodigal

as a convenient model, connoisseurs of the mid-1630s familiar with

Son), ca. 1635 - 36. Gemalde-

Rembrandt's numerous self-portraits would not have failed to recognize

galerie Alte Meister, Staatlich e

his likeness here and, given the proximate publication of the double por-

Kunstsammlungen D re sden .

trait etching (fig. 3), to see Saskia in his tavern wench. X-radiography has 24



revealed a second woman originally placed in the background,12 suggesting that portraiture (or, specifically, a marital double portrait) was not the original goal of the painting. Still, once Rembrandt and Saskia are identified as the actors in this vignette, it is natural to wonder, as many interpreters have done, what significance, personal or otherwise, might have been attached to their performances. While it seems easy for Rembrandt to embrace the Prodigal's lusty persona (albeit with possible vanitas impli cations), interpretations of Saskia's body language have ranged from pure delight in her husband 's company to prim discomfort with the sordid role she has been assigned to play.13 The variability of these readings points up the difficulty of isolating Saskia, or any female model, as an individual agent apart from the controlling vision of the artist who paints her. It has recently been argued that the girl on the Prodigal's lap could not

have been intended as a recognizable likeness of Saskia at all, since no well-bred young lady would permit herself to be portrayed as a harlot.14 However, the fact that Gabriel Metsu and Frans van Mieris later depicted themselves and their wives in similar roles suggests that such a scenar io was not so problematic, and also confirms that both actors in Rembrandt's version were recognized by contemporaries. 15 Furthermore, by depicting the figures from behind and turning their faces sharply toward the viewer, Rembrandt calls attention to the act of portrayal. Their performance makes a boisterous contribution to the newly fashionable portrait historie, where boundaries of decorum may sometimes be transgressed within the fiction of an assumed identity. Yet, while a compliant sitter in a commissioned portrait might be absolved of full responsibility for the associations of an assigned role, the artist himself directs the action and is, presumably, aware of its implications . This is where Saskia, as a civilian, proves useful. Her reticence tempers Rembrandt's exuberance, while her selfconscious engagement with the viewer- like the placid faces of Dutch matrons decked out as nude goddesses-deflects the possibly risky equation of the artist with his act. Meanwhile, it is typical of his approach to se lf-portraiture that Rembrandt's chosen persona, however profligate, puts him very much in charge. It may be no accident that his pose, with feathered beret and head turned sharply over his shoulder, conforms to a type symbolic of artistic ingenium. 16 A peacock pie and a pretty girl are attributes attesting to his creative vigor. For the viewer, female characters in such narrative scenes are easier to dismiss as generic ideals than those who stand alone in single-figure compositions as personifications or tronies. Hovering on the border between portrait and genre, tronies engage us with the same conventions, such as close-up views, illusionistic spatial constructions, direct glances, communicative poses, and acutely observed physiognomy and costume, that por25


7 Rembrandt, Titio van Uylenburgh, 1639. Pen and brown ink on paper. Nationa lmuseum, Stockholm . Benesch 441 .

traitists use so successfully to create a "speaking likeness" of their sitters. 11 Rembrandt's tronies, enlivened by his evocative lighting, tactile handling, and astute eye for detail, tease the viewer to see them as individuals . And, in some cases, it is not unreasonable to think they were meant to do so. In the numerous fema le tronies produced by the van Uylenburgh and Rembrandt workshops in the 1630s, rec urring physical traits are distinctive enough to suggest the participation of several specific women as models. 18 It seems possible that some of these heads were based on Saskia and her van Uylenburgh relations, contributing to the "family resem blance" between faces. Rembrandt's inscribed drawing of Saskia's sister Titia (fig. 7} and other documents and sketches s uggest the presence of a varied cast of available characters in the family circle. 19 There is evidence that many artists' models, especially those who posed in the nude, were women of low social status and sinister reputation. 20 In this context, could a respectable woman comfortably consent to posing in cos26



tume? Although most models, notably Vermeer's women, remain mysteriously unknown to us, the practice of posing family members was common enough to provoke criticism from the classicist Gerard de Lairesse. In his 1707 treatise on the art of painting (Groot Schilderboek), de Lairesse observed that the all-too-realistic likenesses of familiar models compromised the nobility of genre paintings, complaining that some painters think "it is enough to follow nature, though she be defective ... one paints for that end the air of his wife, though ever so ugly ... another chooses his clownish unmannerly maidservant ... whereby the agreeableness of a beautiful woman's face is quite lost. "21 It appears that de Lairesse was troubled not only by the imperfections of these figures, but by their prosaic identities, which threatened to disrupt the fictive constructs in which they performed . In one documented instance, Hendrick van Uylenburgh's wife, Maria van Eyck, posed for an Oriental head by Rembrandt that was copied in the studio for circulation on the market. One copy is recorded in the stock of Lambert Jacobsz, Hendrick van Uylenburgh 's business partner and fellow Mennonite in Leeuwarden. 22 There is affirmative evidence from other studios as well, such as the frequent appearance of Gesina ter Borch in her brother Gerard's genre scenes, and of Gabriel Metsu's wife in his. 23 Frans van Mieris posed his wife, Cunera van der Cock, in genre scenes and in quasi-historical and pastoral tronies clearly indebted to Rembrandt's example.24 Earlier precedents may also be noted . Karel van Mander states that Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen liked to paint his daughter Maria in Turkish costume (a by-product of Vermeyen's exotic travels). 25 Albrecht Di.irer, whose perceptive drawings of his wife anticipate Rembrandt's (as does his assertive self-portraiture), posed his aging spouse as Saint Anne. 26 The citation of a tronie featuring Hendrick van Uylenburgh's wife painted by someone else (Rembrandt) suggests an intriguing and possibly novel feature of their studio practice: not only might a wife pose in privacy for her own husband, but she might also be pressed into service for others in the workshop. One wonders how a young lady like Saskia might have felt about this collaborative approach. Did she pose for Rembrandt's associates such as Boland Flinck, or are all their Saskia-like tronies (such as fig . 16) simply copies or variants of works by the master? Either way, a feminine type based on her likeness may well have become a trademark motif of the studio, a female counterpart to the widely marketed face of Rembrandt himself. The fact that de Lairesse, as a painter familiar with the methods of his colleagues, was aware of their use of fami lial models, or that we, as scholarly detectives, recognize Gesina in Gerard ter Borch's domestic scenes, 27


or Saskia in Rembrandt's history paintings, does not guarantee that their original owners did, or were meant to do, the same. In many cases, paintings were shipped to dealers in other cities, to be sold to unknown buyers. However, there is evidence that some Dutch artists' wives were recognized as models by connoisseu rs . This must especially have been true in cases where the artist worked for a small community of familiar patrons. In Leiden, the 1672 inventory of Frarn; ois de la Boe Sylvius listed several paintings by Frans van Mieris, including tronies of both van Mieris and his wife . As observed recently by Eric Jan SluUter, the fact that Cunera's identity was noted "suggests that the viewer's knowledge of the model's persona l relation to t he renowned artist added value to the picture."21 In Amsterdam, many of Rembrandt's clients also lived near him and were likely to be personally acquainted with both the artist and his household. 28 In the 1650s, Jan Six owned a picture later listed in his estate as "the wife of Rembrandt ... powerfully and splendidly done," almost certainly the

Saskia in a Red Hat now in Kassel (fig. 8). 29 In addition, portraits of

8 Remb ra ndt, Saskia in a Red

Hat. Oil o n wood . G e ma ld ega lerie Alte Me is ter, Staatliche Museen , Kassel.




Rembrandt and his wife are listed as such in the inventories of three Amsterdam coll ections in 1647, 1648, and 1677.30 Such references testify to the collectibility of im ages understood to represent Saskia as well as Rembrandt. Although, in three of these four cases, the portrait of Saskia is listed together with one of her husband, there are no extant examples that match up unequivocally as pendants. Thus, it is poss ible that these works were meant to function autonomously, and, given Rembrandt's taste for fanciful attributes, to be construed as more than simple portraits. 31 In such cases, we might think of Saskia, Maria van Eyck, and other artists' wives as collaborating in their husbands' busi nesses, much as the wives of other Dutch merchants and tradesmen did. 32 At the same time, the identification of the artist's wife in images that transcend everyday reality has implications more related to patrician and humanist culture than to the conservative middle class. Literary trad ition had long honored poetic praise of the mistress as a descriptive form at once private and public, expressing the intimate fee lings of the lover in a form suitable for both personal catharsis and printed circulation. Petrarch's eulogies of his un attainable Laura remain the best-known contributions to this humani st practice, rooted in antiquity and internationally influential b y the seventeenth century. Historians of Italian Renaissance art have convincingly demonstrated the link between postPetrarchan poetics and the visual idealization of beautiful women by Titian and his contemporaries. 33 In the seventeenth century, literary metaphor is most clearly paralleled by portrait historie, in which the poetic association of the beloved with a goddess or other paradigm of beauty translates directly to the portrayal of a woman "as" Diana or Venus. The ambiguities of reference and all usion that animate both role portraits and tronies are analogous to the cryptic language common in occasional verse and in the newly fashionable narrative genre of the roman

a clef, in which the play of masked iden-

tities -guise and disguise -was clearly part of the fun .34 In the 1620s and 1630s, aristocratic ladies at the courts of London, The Hague, and elsewhere enjoyed posing for portraits in fancy dress (figs. 14, 15). While commissioned paintings of this type provide an important visual precedent for Rembrandt (discussed further below), the self-revelatory lan guage of amatory verse is a better parallel for the combination of artifice and authentic emotion implicit in the portrayal of a beautiful woman who is also one's own wife. Related, too, is the literary commemoration of legendary artistic lovers such as Apelles and Campaspe, or Pygmalion and his statue-come-to-life



(a trope invoked by both Petrarch and, quite possibly, Rembrandt). 35 A rarer theme, known to Rubens and Samuel van Hoogstraten, is Pliny's tale of the painter Pausias and his love for the flower girl Glycera. 36 As Eric Jan Sluijter has shown, the archetypal metaphor, frequent in the literature of art, is the alliance of Venus and Pictura, signifying the power of love to inspire art, and even, when an artist depicts his beloved, to promote an especially lifelike result.37 In both visual art and poetry, these topoi provide opportunities to display not only the amorous emotions but also the skill and inventiveness of the maker. The reconciliation of these chivalrous tropes with the prosaic context of middle-class marriage in the Calvinist Dutch Republic is not as difficult as it might seem. The new bourgeois ideal of companionate marriage allowed space for the conj unction of romantic love and conjugal obligation. The replacement of the unattainable mistress with a complacent wife required only minor adjustments in descriptive verbiage, since the charms of the lady remained essentially the same. In the narrative and occasional poetry of authors like Jacob Cats, Joost van den Vandel, and Jan Vos, classical and post-Petrarchan literary conventions were adapted to the Dutch vernacular. Poetic metaphor and pictorial flattery intersect most directly in poems about portraits, a genre in which both Vandel and Vos were proficient and prolific.38 An example from Rembrandt's own milieu is Vondel's poetic description of Jan Six inflamed with love at the sight of a portrait of his wife Margareta Tulp, painted by Govert Flinck. In Vondel's ekphrasis, Margareta is both wife ("huisvrouwe") and goddess ("Zanggoddin"). 39 A more personal literary document is Dagh-werck, Constantijn Huygens's poetic celebration of his domestic life with Susanna van Baer le, whom he married in 1627. A portrait of Huygens and his "Stella" as an exemplum of marital harmony, painted by Jacob van Campen, translates this conjugal ideal into paint. 40 Huygens, with whom Rembrandt corresponded in the 1630s, and other educated viewers might well have seen Rembrandt's idealized depictions of his wife through the lens of humanist poetics, aspictorial tributes to the beloved. Like a published poem, such tributes were intended for both private expression and public display. Among these viewers we may also count the poet and connoisseur Jan Six, who owned Rembrandt's evocative tronie of Saskia in a red, feathered hat (fig. 8) . This painting, with its profile pose and quasi-historical costume, belongs to Rembrandt's dialogue with the Renaissance past, an interest shared by Six, to whom the Dutch edition of Baldesar Castiglione's Book of the Courtier was later dedicated. 41

Also indebted to Italian models is the painting dated 1641, now in Dresden, usually described as the last of Rembrandt's depictions of Saskia as Flora, 30


personification of Spring (fig. 11). Painted less than a year before her death, this Saskia, with her clear gaze and frizzy auburn hair, is a more mature version of the silverpoint sketch. The composition is related to a

Flora by Titian (Uffizi, Florence), seen in an Amsterdam collection and recorded in a print by Joachim von Sandrart.42 Yet, her attributes only loosely recall the arcadian goddess. The carnation she holds is a familiar symbol oflove and marriage, and her pose a sign of faithful affirmation. 43 Her demonstrative gesture, extending the flower toward the artist while laying a hand on her heart, suggests a loving intimacy. This illusionistic trope invokes the tradition of the "speaking likeness" shared by poets and painters since the Renaissance. But what seems most personal about it, and most akin to the confessional tone of amatory verse, is the current of emotional electricity that runs between the figure and the artist who describes her, and who is equally the object of her gaze. It would be sweet to think that Rembrandt kept this painting for himself, as Rubens did his intimate depiction of Helene as Venus draped only in fur, but nothing is known about its early provenance. 44 Before we sentimentalize further, it is well to remember that this composition, like a sonnet, is both an expression of love and a demonstration of artistry. Rembrandt's interest in the theme of Flora was entrepreneurial as well as expressive. As mentioned earlier, the two arcadian figures of 1634 and 1635 both follow a Saskia-like ideal, but with notable discrepancies, such as hair color, that argue either for the use of two different models, or for considerable artistic license in the finished product. The second, blonder version (fig. 9), although only a year later, is distinctly different in style, painted with the quick bravado deployed by Rembrandt for history paintings (and some tronies), while the 1634 version (fig. 12) shows a careful attention to surface detail that is closer to his portrait style of this period. The 1635 version has attracted more interest since x-radiographs revealed that Rembrandt painted the flowery attributes of Spring over a nearly completed depiction of Judith with the head of Holofernes (fig. 10). Christopher Brown has stated that Rembrandt began with a different model, who became Saskia only when she became Flora because "it is surely most unlikely that he would have represented his wife as Judith." 45 The bolder style and the fact that the finished product looks only vaguely like Saskia-indeed, much less so than the 1634 version - suggests the opposite: that Rembrandt changed his mind about the painting and quickly finished it up as a generic tronie for the market. Yet, the unspoken rationale for Brown's comment is thought-provoking. Would the self-centered Rembrandt have wanted to play the hapless role of Holofernes? Amusing as this might seem, there are, in fact, precedents 31



9 Rembrandt, Saskia (?) as Flora, 1635. Oil on canvas. National Gallery, London .

for such a soul-searching performance-Michelangelo as the flayed Saint Bartholomew, Caravaggio as Goliath, and, most importantly, a Judith painted around 1615 by Cristofano Allori (fig. 13), known to the

seventeenth century in several versions and celebrated in a poem by Giambattista Marino . According to Filippo Baldinucci, Judith is played by the artist's mistress, La Mazzafirra, the servant Abra by her mother, and the severed head of Holofernes by Allori himself. 46 Why, then, not Rembrandt? Clearly, his personal pride would be compromised by such a vulnerable role. As Svetlana Alpers has noted, the transformation to Flora would render Saskia nonthreatening.47 It is hard to imagine that she was ever threatening in life. Yet, Rembrandt's immersion in her family to the exclusion of his own must have challenged his personal independence. While we cannot know how he really felt about these circumstances, it is clear that playing the victim would be inconsistent with the self-assertiveness that characterizes his pictorial identity. It seems that poetic flattery



10 Rembrandt, Saskia (?) as Flora. X-radiograph of fig. 9.

was within his ken, but passionate surrender, in the true Petrarchan sense, was not. Saskia may pose as the Prodigal's temptress, but she remains firmly in his grasp. Meanwhile, the Flora of 1634 (fig. 12) more closely resembles Saskia as depicted in the silverpoint sketch (fig. 2). Completed in the year of their marriage, this painting, with its clearly articulated roses, carnations, rosemary, and other symbolic vegetation, is both a fancifu l tronie and an epithalamium. While it functions adequately as a personification, the fami liarity of the model, along with her slightly self-conscious demeanor, invites us to read this painting as a portrait in fancy dress. I am using this term to include not only portraits histories, in which a designated role (such as Flora) is performed, but also costume pieces in which clothing and other attributes depart picturesquely from the everyday without referencing a specific character (fig. 14). Such a construct, by alluding to 33


11 Rembrandt, Saskia with a Flower, 1641. Oil on wood.

Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.




12 Rembrandt, Saskia as Flora,

1634. Oil on canvas. State Hermitage, Saint Pete rsburg.




concepts s uch as timeless beauty, enh ances or metaphorically comments


on the charms of the sitter. As s uch, Rembrandt's Floras resemble the

Cristofano Allori,Judith with the

fancy dress portraits popular in the 1630s among the patrician clients of

Head of Holofernes (Self-Portrait

Gerrit van Honthorst and Anthony van Dyck, including stadhouder

with the Artist's Mistress),

Frederik Hendrik's consort, Amalia van Solms, and her royal houseguest,

ca. 1615. Oil on canvas.

Eli zabeth, queen of Bohemia.

Galleria Palatina, Florence .

By 1634, Rembrandt had successfully established himself as a portraitist


in Amsterdam, but was still hoping for continued patronage from the

Gerrit van Honthorst, Portrait

stadhouder. (Throughout the years of his marriage, he worked sporadi-

ofAmalia van So/ms, 1632.

cally on the paintings of the Passion of Christ commissioned for the stad-

Oil on canvas. Centraal

houder's apartments.) 48 His Floras are a bridge between two cultural com-

Museum, Utrecht.

munities: the sophisticated court at The Hague, where pastoral portraits, plays, and genre scenes were a fash ion able craze, and burgerlijk Amsterdam, where this vogue had not yet caught hold in portraiture, but where the Amsterdam Schouwburgh, with its richly costumed historical dramas, modeled sartorial escapism of another kind. 49 Arcadian imagery in Dutch painting is usually traced to Utrecht, where Abraham Bloemaert, Honthorst, and Paulus Moreelse developed a specialty in generic shepherds and shepherdesses, but it was in The Hague, among courtly patrons fami li ar with international trends, that fancy dress portraits (including those with pastoral attributes) first took hold. The activity of Honthorst and Moreelse as court portraitists to the stadhouder




provides the basic connection. 50 Although a few men consented to be

Gerrit van Honthorst, Portrait

portrayed all'antica, it was beautiful young women who found the conceit

o(Amalia van So/ms as Flora,

most appealing. 51 Costumes donned by Amalia and Elizabeth for paintings

with Her Three Eldest Children,

by Honthorst mimic neither the arcadian decollete of Utrecht nor the

1629. Oil on canvas. Gotisches

quasi-classical deshabille of van Dyck. Like the sumptuous attire of

Haus,Worlitz (Kulturstiftung

Rembrandt's heroines, they are richer in details of fabric and accessories,

DessauWorlitz) .

with an occasional shimmer of patterned oriental si lk (fig. 14). 52 In the stadhouder's collections in The Hague, where Rembrandt's own paintings


of the Passion of Christ (and his more prosaic portrait of Amalia van

Govert Flinck, Flora, ca. 1636 -

Solms) were displayed, Rembrandt could have seen a variety of such

38. Oil on canvas, transferred .

inventive portraits, including Gerrit van Honthorst's first official commis-

The Metropolitan Museum of

s ion for Frederik Hendrik, a full-length portrait of Amalia van Solms as

Art, New York.

Flora (fig. 15).53 Rembrandt's response to this vog ue was to cast his own bride in a similar role, thus introducing it into the repertoire of his workshop. The costum es assigned to Saskia in the 1634 Flora and other paintings do not imitate those of Honthorst's court ladies, but evoke a simi lar sense of luxurious fantasy. 54 Perhaps Rembrandt hoped to interest Amsterdam matrons in adopting the dress -up games of their aristocratic neighbors. While waiting for this trend to take hold, as it eventually did among patrons of Bal and Flinck, Rembrandt and other painters in his circle made a tidy profit turning out generic Floras for the parlors of their




wealthy patrons. 55 A drawing annotated by Rembrandt records the sale of two Floras by Ferdinand Boland one by Leendert van Beyeren, confirming that he assigned this subject to his associates and marketed the results. 56 Typical of the genre is a Flora probably painted by Govert Flinck around 1636 to 1638 (fig . 16).57 The features of Flinck's model resemble Rembrandt's representations of Saskia, and while this painting may be a variant of a work by the master, it may also provide evidence that Saskia, like Hendrick van Uylenburgh's wife, posed for others in the studio besides her husband. Pendants of an arcadian shepherd and shepherdess by Flinck look very much like Saskia and Rembrandt, suggesting that even the master himself joined in.58 In workshop versions of such paintings, which must sometimes have been dispersed to buyers unfamiliar with the artist himself, the poetic associations are diluted or commercialized.

evertheless, the familiar features of both models would add value

by authenticating the work as a product of Rembrandt's studio . Rembrandt must have found the activity of posing somewhat congenial, given the unprecedented frequency with which he posed for himself. Rationales ranging from introspective autobiography to frugal pragmatism have been proposed to explain this unique body of work. 59 For the present discussion, what is important is to recognize the centrality of selfrepresentation as a motivating force in Rembrandt's career. Self-absorption, self-promotion, egocentrism, or the comfort of a familiar, unpaid, and always available model: whatever it was that motivated him, self-centeredness is a fundamental and enduring feature of Rembrandt's artistic identity. How did such a forceful personality absorb a spouse- a partner, beloved, second self- into his life and work? We have already seen evidence of Saskia's adaptability as a feminine type, but also of Rembrandt's willingness, adumbrated in the Saskia with a Flower and Prodigal Son, to thematize their relationship and even to con-

struct her pictorial identity as a foil for his own. At least one painting from 1633 suggests that this working relationship was established even before their marriage: the small half-length in Dresden, in which Saskia turns toward the viewer with a mischievous smile (fig. 17).60 Her lively expression may seem natural to our eyes, but a seventeenth-century viewer would have registered it as bold, perhaps even shocking. Conventions of decorous behavior were strictly observed in portraits, where a demure upturn of the lips marked the limits of propriety for women. Laughter, like tears, betrayed an unseemly lack of self-control. 61 This standard suggests that the painting should be read as a generic figure study rather than a portrait. Yet, even in female tronies, vivid expressions served most often to characterize ill-bred or irrational types like Frans 38



17 Rembrandt, Saskia Smiling, 1633. O il on wood. Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden .

Hals's Malle Babbe (an actual person, and hence a trenchant travesty of polite behavior) or sexually available ones like the buxom shepherdesses of Utrecht.62 More specifically, strong emotion is rare in Rembrandt's

tronies, which, in contrast to those of Hals and Honthorst, are almost universally sedate in pose and expression . Even as a tronie, then, this Sa skia is exceptional.

It is in self-portraits that Rembrandt plays most demonstratively with facial expression. And, indeed, several other features of the Dresden painting are more typical of self-portraits of (male) artists than of (female) portraits. The feathered hat, the shadowed brow, and the lively turn of the head back over the shoulder are all conventions connoting artistic genius in self-portraits by van Dyck, Rembrandt, and their contemporaries. 63 This particular hat, with its distinctive notched brim, appears to be the same one later worn by Rembrandt himself in the etched double portrait of 1636 (fig. 3). Laughter signifies the comedic authority of the artist in selfportraits by Adriaen Brouwer and Jan Steen, and also recalls the legend




18 Pieter Coecke van Aelst (and/or Mayken Verhulst) ,

Portrait of Pieter Coecke and Mayken Verhulst, ca. 1545. Oil on wood . Kunsthaus , Zurich .

of Zeuxis cackling at the ugliness of an aged fema le model, a role adopted by Rembrandt in on e of his last self-portraits. 6" The beautiful young woman laughing as she impersonates the artist turns this topos wittily on its head. Saskia is his Pictura, even, perhaps, his alter ego. 65 No other model, including Hendrickje, was absorbed into Rembrandt's imagery in quite this way. Rembrandt's etched likenesses of Saskia, like their painted counterparts, blend reality with allusive costume and attributes. This is not surprising, since forma l printed portraits, being suited for wide distribution, were associated with celebrity and reserved primarily for men (Rembrandt's etched sitters, apart from Sask ia, are all male). 66 Perhaps for this reason, as well as Rembrandt's penchant for disguises, it is not until the eighteenth century that we find evidence for connoisseurs' recognition of Saskia in Rembrandt's etchings. Clement de Jonghe's inventory of 1679 includes "Rembrandt's Moeder" (see fig. 4) as well as references to Rembrandt's father, son, and "concubin," but no Saskia. 67 Beginning in the early 1700s, cata loguers like Gersaint and Daulby began to identify Saskia in quasihistorical figures like the so-called Great Jewish Bride (Bartsch 340), but, as with the paintings, differences of opinion persist. 68 The most reliable etched likeness, already recognized by Gersaint, is clearly the double portrait of 1636 (fig . 3), in which Saskia sits with her husband as he works. It is compositionally related to the familiar painterly





theme of a couple or family at table, and has also been associated with occupational portraits (by Rembrandt and others), in which the wife serves as her husband's helpmate or, in some cases, as a distraction: while love can in spire creativity, it can also tempt a man away from his labors. 69 In addition to the van Oostsanen portrait mentioned earlier (fig. 1), an intriguing antecedent is the double portrait of Pieter Coecke and his second wife Mayken Verhulst, painted about 1550 (fig. 18). Vanitas connotations aside, their challenging stares anticipate Rembrandt's incisive evocation of personality. Also, these two were partners in work as in life, for May ken was a painter in her own right, and it is not clear which of them painted this portrait. 70 As an etching, however, Rembrandt's double portrait has no clear precedent (earlier graphic double portraits, like that of Israel van Meckenem and his wife, are compositionally dissimilar). His choice of medium thus repositions a painterly theme as a personal statement available for circ ulation, an opportunity for advertisement of his artistic identity and pictorial skill. 71 Several of hi s etched self-portraits of the 1630s may have served a similar purpose, but the double portrait is the only one that presents the artist at work. This reorients the companionate marriage portrait into a construct that might easily be read as "artist interrupted while sketching from the model. " Indeed, the evolution of the image mirrors the activity it depicts. Saskia sits quietly, apparently posing, behind the table on which Rembrandt is working. Rembrandt is posing, too, for both hi s feathered cap and Saskia's veil remove them from quotidian reality. 72 Careful examination shows that the contours of Rembrandt's sleeve are drawn over Saskia's bodice, indicating that he began with her figure, then literally interposed himself in front of her, thus radically changing the dynamic of viewer and viewed. What was initially a representation of the artist's wife looking back at him becomes an artist regarding himself and his wife together. The chalk h eld in his left h and (not his right) and the compressed perspective are calculated to suggest direct transcription onto the plate: he wants us to see what he sees as he slips in front of the mirror. But is she also looking into the mirror, and if so, is she regarding herself, or him? Does he oscillate between direct observation of his model and the reflection of them both? Or are they both, disconcertingly, looking at us? 73 While these questions illuminate the complex appeal of this image, what is significant here is that Saskia's role as wife is conflated with her role as mod el, while Rembrandt's imposed and imposing presence conveys an insistent self-awareness. Saskia's likeness is literally subordinated to his skill in portraying her. (This effect is clear when compared with the egali41



Rem brandt, Studies of Saskia


and Other Wom en, 1636.


Etching. Rijksmu seum, Amsterdam. Bartsch 365 .

.. I I


tarian symmetry of Coecke and Verhulst.) Like the Prodigal Son, therefore, this construct is primarily an autobiographical statement, honoring the collaboration of husband and wife while still asserting the artist's creative agency. As a study, initially, of Saskia, this etching could have taken a different turn. In the same year (1636), Rembrandt produced the first of his three etched studies of women's heads, the group of prints with which this essay began (figs. 19-22). Two of these prints are known in one state only, while the third begins with a portrait of Saskia (the most vivid representation since the silverpoint sketch), then adds two other figures, one summarily sketched .74 As noted earlier, these etchings have attracted interest primarily for their technique . Here again, Rembrandt's skill as a draughtsman provides an implicit theme. Along with several other prints that seem to reflect direct study from life (such as figs . 5 and 24), they have been taken as evidence for Rembrandt's unusual practice of treating the cop42




20 Rembrandt, Three Heads of

~I lâ&#x20AC;˘1 Q;' C't,)) It

Women, One Asleep, 1637.


Etching. Museum of Fine Arts , Boston , Gift of the Estate of Lee M. Friedman . Bartsch 368.

21 Rembrandt, Three Heads of

Women, One Lightly Etched (Portrait of Saskia), ca. 1636 - 37. Etching. Rijksmuseum , Amsterdam. Bartsch 367 (I st state) .

22 Rembrandt, Three Heads of

Women, One Lightly Etched, ca. 1636 - 37. Etching. The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. Bartsch 367 (2nd state) .


,I i' I'





perplate like a sketchpad. Two entries in Clement de Jonghe's inventory list of Rembrandt's copperplates (1679) are described with the term "studieblad," suggesting that this approach was already noted by contemporaries .75There is little with which to compare the resulting "printed drawings" except the deliberately sketchy grap hic exempla published in artists' model books. 76 In my view, these etched heads, like Rembrandt's naturalistic figure studies, should be seen as subversive commentaries on that tradition rather than forthright contributions to it. What sets these plates apart from conventional exempla is the inescapable sense that the characters depicted are complex individuals rather than generic types. The validity of this response is confirmed by the radiant presence of Saskia. Gersaint (1751) was the first to identify the central figure in the sketchprint of 1636 (fig. 19) as Rembrandt's wife, citing a resemblance to the etched double portrait. He saw the other heads as studies of different women and, at upper left, " un Turc ... coeffe d'un turban." 77 In contrast, recent writers have frequently described this etching and its counterparts as multiple views of Saskia. This is an inaccurate generalization. Even apart from the "Turk," more likely an elderly woman, comparison shows distinct differences in age and facial structure among the heads on all three sheets. Indeed, the etching of 1637 may not represent Saskia at all. 78 We need not speculate about who the other figures might be. In addition to hired models, Rembrandt must have sketched a variety of women who crossed his path: nursemaids and servants (see fig . 24) as well as Saskia, her sisters and other r elatio ns. Several of the etched heads capture a pensive mood similar to the productive absorption of Titia van Uylenburgh, busy sewing in the drawing of 1639 (fig. 7). What is significant is that these figures, like the more familiar face of Saskia, have the character of individuated studies from life. Each of the etchings is deftly arranged to balance complementary femi nine types and emotional states. The most complex gro uping (fig. 19) might even be entitled "the ages of woman. " While Saskia's delicate veil and loose hair suggest innocent youth, the flat hat worn by the woman at lower left is of a type often used in Rembrandt's circle to characterize historical mothers such as Hagar and Mary. 79 To her right is a heavy-cheeked, middle-aged matron, above whom a hooded figure, holding a handkerchief to her lips, seems mournfully distracted. Her mood reminds us that in February of 1636, Rembrandt and Saskia buried their firstborn child, Rombartus, born just two months before.80 The wizened character at upper left completes the circle of faces, and the circle of life, as an archetype of old age, juxtaposed with Saskia's young face in a contrast typical of vanitas imagery.81 She is the least lifelike figure of the group, an




imaginative caricature in the tradition of Leonardo, while Saskia's portrait and other heads have the tactile immediacy of direct observation. This contrast demonstrates the complementary ski lls of the draughtsman: convincing depiction from life and from invention, naar het leven and uyt den gheest. Rembrandt's artful deployment of variable finish is also a common

convention. In artists' model books, it demonstrates the sequential buildup of a motif through contour and shading (for example, fig. 23) . In Rembrandt's hands, it seems far less calculated, yet, as an aesthetic deci sion, may serve a programmatic purpose.82 In the etching of three heads (fig . 22), portraiture from life is the clear heart of Rembrandt's enterprise, since he begins, in the first state (fig. 21), with Saskia alone. Few of Rembrandt's drawings or prints approach the human face with such sensitive detail. Here, the progress ohime is traced with a lighter touch . The first two states record his thought process as he moves from Saskia ad vivum, engaging the viewer in a direct exchange of glances, to the more genre-like second figure, caught pensively unaware and, finally, in a few swift strokes at lower left, to the sagging features of an older woman . Compared with a sheet of studies from a drawing man ual (fig. 23), the vivacity of Rembrandt's handling is evident in both technique and composition. The example illustrated here, published by Pieter de Jode in Antwerp in 1629, has been chosen because it is one of very few that contain a figure verging on portraiture: the yo ung male head at right

23 Pieter de Jode , Varie Figure Academiche, plate 3 (Antwerp,

1629). Engraving.



center. What captures us is his glance, breaking frame to address us directly, as artists' self-portraits often do .83 In Rembrandt's etchin g, the interlocutory portrait is not a witty detail, but the starting point and centerpiece of his composition. Saskia's gaze animates the page, too articulate to be anythi ng but the representation of a real woman, the artist's model wife. Print collectors who owned or knew the etched double portrait would readily have made the connection to it. By definition, drawing manuals and didactic print series compile generic standards for proportion, expression, and physiognomy. Realistic portraiture is out of place there, and even motifs that might have begun as _.,..,,,,/ .......




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24 Rembrandt, A Male Model

Seated and Another Standing (''The Walking Train er"), I 646. Etching.The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. Bartsch 194.



studies from life are generalized to conform to conventional types. In this context, Rembrandt's introduction of highly individualized heads, and especially the recognizable likeness of his wife, is disruptive and invigorating. As these faces come alive, in all their psychological complexity and physical imperfection, they reaffirm the priority of nature as the artist's source of inspiration. This refusal to subordinate observed reality to generic convention is consistent with Rembrandt's approach to life drawing, an approach that led classicists like Houbraken, de Lairesse, and Andries Pels to criticize him for adhering too closely to nature. Recent interpreters have convincingly argued that it was not the corpulence but the earthy realism of Rembrandt's female nudes, with their garter marks and sagging flesh, that troubled these critics. 84 His angular male figures are equally subversive in their frank disregard of the heroic ideal. In the etching nicknamed Het Rolwagentje (The Walking Trainer, fig. 24), two scrawny youths patiently hold their poses in the studio, where young artists walk in Rembrandt's footsteps by drawing naar bet Jeven as he sketches beside them onto his copperplate. The domestic motif in the background emblematically comments on the theme of exercitio, but also provides a lively counterpoint to the self-conscious postures of the models. 85 In the sketch-prints of Saskia and other women, Rembrandt extends this philosophy from the unidealized body to the unmediated face. In so doing, he rejects the ascendancy of conventionalized physiognomy over portraiture, a genre in which direct observation is essential to authenticity. From the beginning of his career, Rembrandt's continual recourse to selfportrayal was both self-revelatory and pragmatic: an instrument by which his skills were tested and advertised and a template for the production of

tronies as well as portraits. Marriage with Saskia offered a feminine counterpart upon which these preoccupations could be projected, a focus for the union oflove, art, and commerce. Operating within the fictive guise of exotic tronie or poetic allegory, Saskia's likeness in paintings and prints guarantees the authority and inventive naturalism of Rembrandt's work, much as his own self-portraits do . Like the playful, ambiguous, artfully expressive tropes of post-Petrarchan poetry, visual conceits such as "Saskia as Flora" may function simultaneously as personal tribute, skillful performance, and marketable commodity, in which the identity of the model is a meaningful component. There is evidence that Saskia's presence in Rembrandt's work was recognized and appreciated by some Amsterdam art lovers . The fact that depictions of her, by Rembrandt and others, made their way into the market implicates her in his celebrity. Did she become a celebrity, too? Ultimately, the roles in which Rembrandt deployed her tell us less about Saskia than about Rembrandt himself. 47

Bridal Decorum and Dangerous Looks: Rembrandt's Wedding Feast of Samson (1638)

H. Rodney Nevitt, Jr.

The Wedding Feast of Samson in Dresden, signed and dated 1638 (fig. 25), is one of four known paintings on the life of Samson executed by Rembrandt between 1629 and 1638.1 The most famous, The Blinding of Samson of 1636 (fig. 26), is often thought to have been given by the artist

to Constantijn Huygens in 1639, though we know nothing for sure about the original ownership of any of these works. 2 The story of Samson is found in the biblical book of Judges, which recounts the lives of thirteen rulers oflsrael in the period following the death of Joshua, a time when Israel was subject to the neighboring Philistines. In chapter 13, an angel appears to the Israelite Manoah and his barren wife to foretell the miraculous birth of a son, Samson, who will be consecrated a N azirite, that is, a holy man (as a sign of which his hair must be left uncut) who will "begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines" (Judges 13.14). In the next chapter, the adult Samson takes a Philistine wife, who goes unnamed in the biblical account. At his wedding feast in Timnah, the bride's village, Samson wagers thirty of the bride's Philistine kinsmen that they cannot solve a riddle within the seven days of the feast. If they lose, they will each give Samson a costly garment; if they win, he will owe them the same. This is the moment shown in the Dresden painting: the bride sits at the center of the table; beside her, the longhaired Samson turns to pose the riddle to the Philistines, who gather about him, listening intently. The riddle, "Out of the eater came forth food, and out of the strong came forth sweetness," referred to an experience Samson had had during a previous trip to Tirnnah, in which he had been confronted by a lion in the wilderness and had killed it with his bare hands . Returning to the scene <

Detail of fig. 25.

later, he noticed that a swarm of honeybees had made its hive in the 49



25 Rembrandt, The Wedding Feast

of Samson, 1638. Oil on canvas. Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden .



26 Rembrandt, The Blinding of

Samson, 1636. Oil on canvas. Stadelsches Kunstinstitut und Stadtische Galerie , Frankfurt.


H . R 0 D NEY


carcass; after consuming some of the honey, Samson took the remainder back to give his parents, though he did not reveal to them where he had obtained it. It was a cheap trick, of course, for the riddle would have been insoluble without knowledge of this strange incident, about which Samson had told no one. 3 Finding themselves at an impasse, the Philistines approach Samson's bride at the feast and threaten to kill her if she does not extract the answer from Samson. "Entice thy husband," they say to her, "that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house with fire" (Judges 14.15). Samson resists telling his bride but relents after she tearfully complains of his disaffection. When the Philistines triumphantly offer Samson the solution to the riddle, he immediately realizes what has happened and initiates a series of violent exchanges. First he slays thirty (other) Philistines and robs them of their clothing to pay his debt to the thirty at the feast. When Samson returns to Timnah to visit his wife (apparently according to Philistine custom, a woman continued to live with her father after marriage), his father-in-law refuses him entrance, explaining that he has given his daughter in marriage to another man because he assumed that Samson, in his wrath, had rejected her as his wife . (This episode provided Rembrandt with the subject of his painting Samson Threatening His

Father-in -Law, probably made in 1635; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin). Again outraged, Samson sets fire to the wheat fields of the Philistines, who in turn exact vengeance on their own kinsmen by burning down the house of Samson's bride, her father, and everyone in it. Thus concludes the pyromaniacal tale of Samson's Philistine wife, though the conflict between Samson and the Philistines continues through Judges 16, culmi nating in Delilah's betrayal of Samson, his blinding, and then imprisonment in the Philistine temple, which he single-handedly destroys, killing himself and his enemies . The Wedding Feast of Samson is one of the few paintings by Rembrandt to have been discussed extensively in writing during the artist's lifetime. Some three years after the painting's execution, on 18 October 1641, the painter and printmaker Philips Angel referred to it in an address delivered to the newly founded Guild of Saint Luke in Leiden, published the following year as Lof der sch ilderkonst (Praise of the art of painting), the subject of which was how painters might compete with poets and sculp tors in winning commissions from high-placed patrons. Angel advised them to depict subjects from ancient or biblical history, in which furthermore they should demonstrate a knowledge of the textual sources and the ability to visualize them with historical accuracy.



Then comes his encomium of the painting by Leiden's native son: I have, for instance, once seen depicted by Rembrandt a wedding of Samson (such as we read of in Judges 14.10) in which one could see how this great mind has given deep thought to the special way the guests sit (or better, lie) around the table; for the Ancients used couches on which they lay-they did not sit at table as we do now, but rested on their elbow as the Turks are still wont to do in those lands, and this he depicted quite as it should be. 4 It was a fitting example for Angel's speech, which was given at the annual dinner of the guild. Angel also pointed out how one could identify Samson by his long hair and how Rembrandt cleverly represented the moment that Samson tells the riddle by having him hold "his left middle finger between his right thumb and middle finger: a common but quite natural gesture when one seeks by reasoning to make something clear to another." 5 Though it was Rembrandt's historical accuracy and attention to the details of the narrative that Angel singled out for praise, he went on to remark that the scene was similar in other respects to contemporary Dutch wedding banquets: "Although the motifs depicted [in the Wedding Feast of Samson] were just as they may be found in weddings today he

[Rembrandt] had nonetheless made differences enough to distinguish it clearly from those of our own times." 6 My thesis is that the duality of Rembrandt's painting in this sense-its twin connection to what the Dutch of his day called the" antiek" and "mo dern" modes in paintingwas fundamental to its meaning. 7 More specifically, I shall argue that the Wedding Feast of Samson, though a biblical history, must also be under-

stood in the context of contemporary Dutch wedding customs. Three of Rembrandt's four Samson paintings depict iconographically unusual subjects. (The exception is the Samson and Delilah of ca. 1629-30 in Berlin, the cutting of Samson's hair having been depicted by a number of other artists.) The only known earlier representation of the Wedding Feast of Samson is an engraving by Philips Galle after a design by

Maerten van Heemskerck, the third in a series of six prints on the life of Samson, datable before 1564 (fig. 27). In the foreground is the marriage itself with Samson and his bride standing on either side of the priest, and in the background, the wedding feast with Samson and his bride seated at the table on the left (fig. 28). 8 The latter detail, ho wever, does not refer to the theme of Samson telling the riddle and does not seem to be a source for any identifiable features of Rembrandt's painting. 9 Other images that have been cited as such are of banquet scenes that are not specifically wedding feasts: for example, a painting by Otto Vaenius from a cycle of



paintings on the Batavian revolt (bought by the States-General in 1613),


and an engraving of around 1590 by Jan Sadeler I after Dirck Barendsz,

Philips Galle after Maerten van

Mankind before the Last Judgment.


But the similarities between these

two images and Rembrandt's painting are also insufficiently specific, in

Heemskerck, The Wedding of Samson, before 1564. Engraving.

my view, to identify either as a source for Rembrandt.

28 A frequently drawn comparison that is more promising in this regard is that with Leonardo's Last Supper, which Rembrandt knew in the form of a reproductive engraving of around 1500 by Giovanni Pietro da Birago that he copied in three extant drawings, among them the well-known sheet of ca . 1633-35 in New York (fig. 29).11 This surely was Rembrandt's starting point for the basic arrangement of the table with one figure in the center -Christ in Leonardo's composition, Samson's bride in Rembrandt's set apart dramatically from those on either side. Leonardo's Last Supper therefore offered Rembrandt a solution to the problem of representing a completely different subject that itself had almost no pictorial tradition .12 My interpretation of the Wedding Feast of Samson, however, really begins with another painting that has been customarily invoked in reference to Rembrandt's picture: Pieter Bruegel the Elder's Peasant Wedding Feast in Vienna (fig. 30), though as most scholars who cite it acknowledge, it is a work that Rembrandt himself is unlikely to have known, for it was never in Amsterdam and was not reproduced in print before the modern era .13 Its similarity with Rembrandt's wedding feast has to do not so much with 54

Detail of fig. 27.



Rembrandt, Copy of an

Engraving by Giovanni Pietro do Birago (ca. 1500), a~er Leonardo do Vinci's Last Supper, ca. 1633 - 35. Red chalk on paper.The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Yo rk, Robert Lehman Collection. Benesch 443 .

the general composition as with the deportment of the bride. In Bruegel's painting, as in Rembrandt's, she sits at the middle of the table in front of a ceremonial cloth of honor, wears a bridal crown, has her hands folded over her stomach, and-most importantly, as we shall see-appears reserved, uncommunicative, and detached from the surrounding figures . To explain this similarity between two historically unconnected works, the authors of the Rembrandt Research Project have hypoth esized th at Bruegel's painting was part of an iconographic tradition that Rembrandt could have known in the form of prints, though they do not specify which ones. 14


Pieter Bruegel the Elde r,

Peasant Wedding Feast, ca. 1567. O il on wood . Kun sthisto risches Museum .Vienna.




31 Piete r van der Heyden after Pieter Br uegel the Elder,

Peasant Wedding Feast. Engraving.

This, in fact, turns out to be a fruitful point of departure . Indeed, I have found several prints of wedding banquets from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that make illuminating comparisons with Rembrandt's painting. For example, an engraving by Pieter van der Heyden (ca . 1530 1576) after a design by Bruegel shows an outdoor peasant wedding with

the bride sitting at the table in the background (fig. 31). 15 An engraving by the Antwerp printmaker Pieter van der Borcht (1535 - 1608) depicts a simi -

32 Pieter van der Borcht, Peasant

Wedding Feast. Engraving. 56



33 Cornelis van Dalen II after Adriaen van de Venne , Peasant

Wedding Feast. Engraving.

lar peasant wedding (fig. 32}. That this iconography was still alive in the northern Netherlands in the middle of the seventeenth century is shown in an engraving by Cornelis van Dalen II (1638 - before 1664} after Adriaen van de Venne (fig. 33}, though this particular print postdates Rembrandt's painting. 16 In all these images the bride is posed similarly, with the same conspicuously reserved demeanor. These are all peasant scenes, of course. But the same elements are found in middle-class settings, as in the engraved illustration after Adriaen van de Venne (fig.34} to Gillis Quintijn's moral diatribe on juvenile delinquency, De HoJlandsche-Liis, Met de Brab andsche-B ely (The Hague, 1629}. Once again, the bride (in this case

34 Ad riaen Matham after Adriaen van de Venne , Wedding Feast. Etching in G illis Quintijn,

De Hollandsche-Liis, Met de Brabandsche-Bely (The Hague, 1629).




her head barely visible above the crowd in the foreground) sits at the


middle of th e table in front of the cloth of honor, and appears serenely

Detail of fig. 30.

detached from everyone aro und her. None of these images, of course, can be considered a source for Rembrandt's painting, but surely they indicate


the broader visual tradition from which his conception of Samson's bride

Detail of fig. 31 .

emerged. 37

In one respect, however, Rembrandt's bride differs from all the others. Every one of the brides has closed or downcast eyes (figs. 35-39), except for Rembrandt's (fig. 40), who looks directly at us. 17 Even in the detail of the wedding banquet from Galle's engraving after van Heemskerck (fig. 28), the bride at the table seems to be looking down in a similar fashion, and this is echoed in the foreground where she lowers her head demurely before Samson's level gaze. The bride's downcast eyes might seem a small point, yet it is so invariably part of the imagery of wedding banquets that Rembrandt, I would argue, must have expected his audience to notice the divergence from that tradition in the Wedding Feast of Samson . Before looking at Rembrandt's innovation, we might ask what the more traditional characterization of the bride signified in these other images. The inscription from van der Heyden's engraving after Bruegel (fig. 31) refers to the bride in the closing lines: "But our bride now does not like 58

Detail of fig. 32.



to dance, I In truth, that is best, because she goes full and sweet [i.e., is

Detail of fig. 33 .

pregnant] ." 18 Snickering at a pregnant bride was a common feature of the peasant satires (both vis ual and literary) that were produced and con-


sumed by the urban middle class in the Netherlands from the sixteenth

Detail of fig. 34.

century on, but these lines, it seems to me, should also be read as a parody of certain rules of decorum for brides-of all classes-which in them-


selves carried a positive meaning.

Detail of fig. 25.

One clue to this meaning appears in Jacob Cats's widely read (or at least widely sold) compendium of moral advice on courtship, marriage, and family, Houwelyck: Dat js De gansche gelegentheyt des Echten Staets (Marriage, or, The Entire Condition of the Married State) of 1625, in which the author warns the bachelors at a wedding feast not to consort with the bride: Now you courting young men, hurry off, there's nothing more to catch here; Pursue your dreams elsewhere; Ask not, for there's nothing more to be sought. Hands off! This meat is already sold. 19





Cats then admonishes the bride not to join in the socializing, for her marriage, he explains, marks the end of her public life and her entrance into a world circumscribed by the home: You [bride] have pledged your troth to your friend [i.e., husband], In his honor then, lead a life set apart from the world. Remove yourself from the public, and restrain your sensual appetites It is fitting that the bride cut herself off From all outward feeling, directing herself Towards an inner meditation, so that she may discern What is appropriate, and what is to be done. She must build up in her mind an image of the home and all its concerns, Imagine in advance this structure, And lay in the spirit the foundation of marriage. 20 Cats's demand that the wife lead "a life set apart" ("een afgesondert leven") suggests one way of understanding these brides. With their downcast eyes and air of withdrawal they embody the retreat from social interaction that Cats enjoins, and the spiritual turning inward he expects of the bride, whom he imagines "directing herself I Towards an inner meditation" of the ideal domestic world she must create for her husband. Another literary context that sheds some light here is seventeenth-century Dutch epithalamia-occasional poems recited or sung at wedding ban quets - which, I have found, often refer to precisely the same kind of behavior on the part of the bride. In a "Bruydt-Lofs-Gesang" ("Wedding Song") from Jan Jansz Starter's 1621 songbook Friesche Lust-Hof (Frisian Pleasure Garden), the poet warns the wedding guests not to let the bride's customary reserve spoil their own merrymaking: And if the Bride looks rather solemn [lit., gazes in a rather solemn manner], 0 guests, do not be pained by that, Because she, for a little while, sits stiffly, For appearance's sake, because it is appropriate 21 Because such texts were actually recited or sung at the very social events to which they refer-with the narrator at least pretending to describe what he sees before him -they suggest that this mode of bridal decorum was not merely a pictorial or literary convention but a "real'' aspect of the behavioral etiquette of such occasions (to what precise degree is difficult to say, for the texts themselves, of course, are imbued with rhetorical conventions). 60



These texts deal with the bride's demeanor in slightly different ways. In a wedding song from his posthumously published Groot Lied-boeck (Great Songbook) (Amsterdam, 1622), the celebrated Amsterdam poet and playwright Gerbrand Adriaensz Bredero encourages the bride to dispense with her inhibitions: Why do you blush Bride? Why are you so restrained? I see well that Love wishes to spring out of your little eyes, So that [your] loveless countenance is no longer so pensive. Away with the cold mask, it has been feigned long enough. 22 He goes on to assure her teasingly that she has nothing to fear from the "sweet death" (coitus). 23 Though the bride is enjoined to break decorum in a certain sense, that "cold mask" - here understood as the sign of her fear or bashfulness at the prospect of losing her virginity-is at the same time proof of her virtue. The mask must be removed, but it is also essential that its removal be difficult. The same tension between the bride's praiseworthy innocence and her ardent desire for the bridegroom emerges in another song by Bredero (1622): "How they strive in her thinking, I The cold fear and the sweet fire of love: I Her little heart springs with joy, her little heart trembles with fear." 24 What of the bride's downcast eyes? Love as a bewitching force that is emitted by a woman's eyes was both part of the physiology of love in ancient and Renaissance medicine, and a poetic cliche. Within the framework of marriage, then, the female gaze was something that had to be reigned in, controlled. Typical in this regard are the lines from the German humanist Sebastian Brant's popular late fifteenth -century text, The Ship of Fools, a Dutch translation of which was published in Amsterdam in 1635:

A wife who would be modest found Should cast her eyes upon the ground And not coquet whene' er she can And not make eyes at every man .25 Bredero's remark to the bride in the song cited previously that "Love wishes to spring out of your little eyes," refers of course to a look directed at the bridegroom. Evading the spectatorial public at her wedding, the virtuous bride's ga ze seeks out only her husband, as Bredero writes in another song: Ah, see, Bridegroom, how the Bride presents herself, And how surreptitiously she looks at you from the corner of her eye, Ogling you on the sly, so as not to be noticed by the guests .26 61



In another song Bredero speaks of the bride's "chaste eyes" ["kuysschen oogen"]. 21 But when the poet continues, we find that same tension between innocence and desire: And do you [Bridegroom] see there [in the bride's countenance] nothing glowing? There Roses bloom on her Lily-white Cheeks, Her sweet red mouth shows itself to you as very delighted, That you are her highest good, and her whole life. 28 The conflict between the bride's outward restraint and her barely suppressed desire to be with her beloved reveals itself in her blushing and, implicitly, a smile directed at the groom. In yet another song by Bredero she lets out a giggle. 29 Similarly, the brides in the wedding banquet scenes (figs. 35-40), despite their staid demeanor and downcast eyes, are also conspicuously smiling. 30 Another common feature of both these texts and images deserves emphasis in this context. Dutch wedding songs often refer to the festive atmosphere reigning among the guests at the banquet, as seen above in Starter's "Bruydt-Lofs-Gesang". Philips Angel also took note of this in Rembrandt's Wedding Feast of Samson in the passage leading up to his remarks (cited previously) on the coexistence of historical and modern references in the painting; the full text reads: And since not all the guests are paying attention to the same thing, he [Rembrandt] showed others as making merry, not listening to the riddle but raising a tall glass of wine while others again are kissing-in short, it was a merry wedding feast, and although the motifs depicted were just as they may be found in weddings today he had nonetheless made differences enough to distinguish it clearly from those of our own times. 31 Similar imbibing figures and amorous couples are found in most images of contemporary Dutch wedding feasts, both peasant and middle-class. In these scenes the contrast between the festive guests and the staid bride is part of what makes the latter stand out so clearly. The bride had long been the exclusive focus of wedding banquets, both in the protocol of the events themselves and in images of them, in which it is typically difficult to identify the bridegroom among the guests, as has often been remarked of Bruegel's Peasant Wedding Feast. 32 In the Wedding Feast of Samson, I would argue, Rembrandt adapted the visual tradition of contemporary wedding banquets to the specific demands



of the biblical story, in which Samson, of co urse, was an indispensable element. Yet the pose Rembrandt gives Samson-seated beside his bride but turning away from her to put the riddle to the Philistines-in some sense returns the compositional structure of the scen e to that of the conventional wedding banquet, with the bride visually isolated at the center of the table. Perhaps this was among the unspecified "motifs depicted ... just as they may be found in weddings today" that allo wed Angel to recognize Rembrandt's scene as a wedding feast in the first place, even before its biblical subject became apparent. In the peasant genre the merrymaking of the guests becomes an object of moral satire, with figures passed out from drink, vomiting, urinating, and lewdly groping each other. The youths in van de Venne's engraving (fig. 34) are somewhat better behaved, as befits their class, though this image too, in the context of Quintijn's book, has a moral-satirical dimension to it. The cracked glass with wine spilling out, the figure in the left background raising a jug, and the couples going up and down the spiral staircase (perhaps seeking out private spaces above for less licit forms of merrymaking?) hint at the vices that Quintijn ascribed to the younger generation. In Rembrandt's painting some guests smile and gesture; one raises a drinking glass, as Angel observed. The kissing couple in the foreground, whom Angel also noted, is contrasted with the pair opposite them behind the table: the woman here appears to be resisting the advances of her companion-an older, bearded man. Thus Rembrandtjuxtaposes a happy courtship with the conventional theme of mismatched lovers. 33 With the possible exception of the latter, there is little here that seventeenth-century Dutch viewers would have frowned on. Even the habitually stern Jacob Cats deemed the amorous merrymaking at a wedding feast, within bounds, to be appropriate for unmarried guests: in Houwelijck he writes that "a new bride easily makes another wedding," that is, weddings offer opportunities for unmarried youth to initiate courtships that lead to still more weddings. 34 At the same time, all this constitutes the festive world of young love from which the bride was to hold herself apart; she presides over a feast that marks the end of her own public life. Among the figures at all these wedding banquets are musicians. In the peasant scenes (figs. 30 - 33) the bagpipe players are most in evidence. In van de Venne's middle-class wedding (fig. 34), a more refined string quartet plays in the alcove at the upper right. Rembrandt, interestingly, conflates the motif of the musicians with the Philistine guests at Samson's wedding, so that the Philistines who listen to Samson telling the riddle are also the musicians (fig. 25). They have stopped their playing to listen




to Samson's words. One, at the extreme right, rests his arm on his harp, while a turbaned man behind Samson holds a flute. The other wedding banquet scenes imply a musical soundtrack of sorts, probably a rather loud and raucous one that contrasts dramatically with the bride's quiet reserve. In Rembrandt's Wedding Feast of Samson we hear only the murmur of voices, perhaps the clinking of wine glasses, and the measured tones of Samson as he explains the riddle. The silencing of the music, however, defines a moment of hushed drama. In this stillness that promises only future violence, we take note of one at the table who looks at us (fig. 40). The meaning of her gaze, a slight but noticeable violation of bridal decorum, might be inferred from the contemporary Dutch wedding songs we have already examined. But first let us look for it more directly in the story of Samson itself. The only comment in the Bible on the bride's divulging of the secret to the Philistines is Samson's reply to the latter on hearing them answer his riddle: "If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle" (Judges 14.18), meaning that they had improperly used what was his-his bride. The phrase may also have had sexual connotations, suggesting that their violation amounted to a kind of adultery. The version of the Samson story in the Jewish Antiquities of Fla vi us Josephus (37 -ca. 95), a copy of which was listed in the inventory of Rembrandt's estate in 1656, 35 replaces that saying with another in which Samson lays the blame more squarely on his bride. In response to the Philistines' solution of the riddle, Josephus has Samson say: "Nor is ought more deceitful than a woman who betrays our speech to you." 36 Here, clearly, is Samson's bride as traitor-as a prelude to Delilah. Svetlana Alpers has interpreted the bride's reserved demeanor in the Wedding Feast of Samson in the context of what she sees as Rembrandt's

ongoing critique of "the theatrical." 37 Alpers understands the decorous reserve of Samson's bride as a false show of virtue, for the bride will - according to Alpers' reading of the biblical text- betray her husband. 38 What seems to me to be missing in this analysis, however (to return to my earlier point), is the recognition that the bride in Rembrandt's painting, though conforming in most respects to the rules of bridal decorum, just as clearly violates them with her gaze. Here is one aspect of her gaze: in contrast to the downcast eyes of the other brides, it suggests her accessibility to others besides her husband. And of course it implicates us, as viewers, in the scene. Our presence seems also to be acknowledged by the turbaned man with the flute who, while listening to Samson, appears to be looking at us out of the corner of his eye (fig. 25). As viewers we occupy the point of convergence between 64



his gaze and that of the bride. Interestingly, whether we consider the biblical story of Samson or the contemporary Dutch texts on bridal decorum, we find a similar frame of reference for what is going on here. In the Bible the bride's transgression begins with precisely what Jacob Cats warned against. Rather than being removed from society, Samson's bride has contact with others at the feast, which allows them to threaten her, which leads to her extraction of the secret from Samson, which precipitates the chain of violence that leads to her own death and that of her husband. On the other hand, it does all seem a high price to pay for a glance in the wrong direction. Mieke Bal, in fact, has argued that the bride in Rembrandt's painting should not be seen as a traitor, but as an innocent victim. 39 Bal rightly notes that the biblical text nowhere refers to Samson's bride as betraying her husband; rather, she is blackmailed, on pain of death, to extract the secret from him. 40 Somewhat more problematic to me is Eal's contention that Samson's bride, both in the Bible and in Rembrandt's painting, is meant to elicit our sympathy as a sacrificial victim on the order of Christ. Here Bal posits a very specific typological significance in Rembrandt's placement of the bride in the same position as Christ in Leonardo's Last Supper. 41 True, the text of Judges does not emphasize the bride's culpability but not, I think, because she is considered particularly worthy of our sympathy, but because she is simply not conceptualized as a free agent in any sense, and is therefore incapable of either guilt or innocence. Rather, she is a possession to be fought over by Samson and her own people, a "heifer" as Samson calls her - an animal, more acted upon than acting. Moreover, later Jewish and Christian exegetes fleshed out the biblical text as a tale of female treachery (as Josephus's Samson says: "Nor is ought more deceitful than a woman who betrays our speech to you"). 42 It seems therefore reasonable to suppose that at least some viewers of Rembrandt's day would have associated Samson's bride with the thematics of betrayal and deceit. How many would have pondered the question of the bride's moral status at all, however, is unclear, for though Samson himself was a well-known biblical character, this particular episode from his life was rarely mentioned in either biblical commentary or other kinds of literature. The two major treatments of the Samson story in seventeenth-century Dutch drama - Simson s Treur-spel (Samson's Tragedy) (Amsterdam, 1618) by

Abraham de Koning, and the better known Samson, of H eilige Wraeck (Samson, or Holy Vengeance) (Amsterdam, 1660) by Joost van den Vondel - concentrate on Samson's relationship with Delilah and the subsequent events leading to his death, and only very briefly mention his marriage to the woman of Timnah .43 Neither text clearly characterizes the latter as either blameworthy or innocent, though de Koning's play does refer to the 65



bride's horrific death when the ghost of Samson's father-in-law appears to a group of Philistine princes to call down vengeance on Samson for his own death and that of his daughter. After the specter vanishes, one of the Philistines remarks: The words that he [the ghost] spoke called mostly for vengeance, Both for his own death, which he suffered because of Samson, And for the overly cruel punishment which we rendered to his daughter. 44 Such glancing references to Samson's bride, however, do not give us much to go on in trying to determine how viewers of Rembrandt's day would have thought of the woman ofTimnah and her role in the Samson story. Mieke Bal's argument is provocative because it quite properly asks what evidence Rembrandt's painting itself contains that Samson's bride was meant to be seen as a traitor to her husband. And the answer, in fact, is very little. This is so despite the point I have made about the bride's violation of decorum in looking directly at the viewer, thereby suggesting that she might not be living up to Cats's ideal of bridal solitude. Previously I described this as a "slight, but noticeable" divergence from pictorial tradition. One could easily reverse the emphasis: it is also noticeable, but slight. In all other respects - her characteristic pose, quiet demeanor and gentle smile-this bride conforms to the rules of bridal decorum. Her gaze requires no special effort on her part: she is merely looking straight ahead. She looks at us, but can we be sure that she solicits our gaze? Our eyes meet, but we might say that is because we have interposed ourselves in her line of sight as we stand before the painting. If we ponder the texts of the Bible and Josephus, as Rembrandt doubtless

did, we might well be struck with how Samson's bride was placed in a series of nearly impossible situations. At the wedding feast she does come into contact with the Philistines, but it is they, not she, who initiate that contact and it is their threat of violence, one might argue, that precipitates the whole chain of events . Thus we can further read Rembrandt's manner of representing the bride in the Wedding Fea st of Samson as a meditation, not only on her breach of decorum, but on how small a breach was sufficient to lead to her downfall and to such universal calamity. Whether Rembrandt and his original audience would have more likely blamed or sympathized with Samson's bride, however, seems to me an intractable problem. It might be assumed that she would have merited censure for her lack of total loyalty to her husband, but the paucity of con-




textual evidence simply does not allow a firm conclusion. To be sure, there is no evidence that BaJ's notion of the bride as a sympathetic victim would not also have been possible in the seventeenth century. Rembrandt's painting, however, refuses to take a stand on that issue-refuses to yield that kind of information, however much we might want it to. The bride's gaze is richly suggestive of meaning and at the same time, it seems to me, susceptible to quite different readings of what that meaning is. Foreknowledge and oblivion, self-possession and vulnerability, guilt and innocence, all seem at turns present in her look. 45 Of course, if the bride's moral status is unclear, we should recall that in the Bible Samson himself is far from being a paragon of virtue. Though consecrated a Nazirite, he repeatedly violates the sexual and dietary laws of that office. 46 His murderous outbursts and misadventure with Delilah seem not so much sanctioned by God as used for the divinely ordained end of fomenting hostility between the Israelites and the Philistines . Josephus's Samson in particular seems to be riven by equally great impulses to hubris and piety. After recounting Samson's famous slaying of a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass, for example, Josephus offers the following gloss: Yet Samson, unduly proud of this feat, did not say that it was God's assistance that had brought it to pass, but ascribed the issue to his own valour, boasting of having with a jawbone prostrated some of his enemies and put the rest to rout through the terror that he inspired. But, being seized with a mighty thirst and recognizing that human valour is a thing of naught, he acknowledged that all was attributable to God .47 In Christian exegesis too Samson was a profoundly conflicted figure. The Epistle to the Hebrews (11.32) lists him among the heroes of faith from the Old Testament, inaugurating the Christian tradition of conceiving Samson as one of the saints. He was even interpreted by many writers from the early Christian period on as an antetype of Christ. Among the analogies made with Christ were his superhuman and divinely ordained powers and his victory over his enemies through his own death . Nevertheless Samson also functioned-often for the same writers-as a cautionary example of the sins of pride, lust, anger and mixed marriage (that is, marriage with an unbeliever). 48 He was regularly included in the "Power of Women" iconography as an example of a great hero who foo lishly succumbed to feminine wiles. 49 The virtuous and villainous Samsons could be manipulated in different ways. Vondel's play, for example, idealizes Samson as a Christ type to the point of not admitting any faults in his character at all, while de Koning seems more comfortable with the notion




of Samson as a flawed hero; he too draws the analogy with Christ and in general sees Samson as an instrument of divine will, but also presents him as a man who through his own weaknesses was brought low by scheming women. 50 That said, the moral-theological issues of the Samson story remain complex, at turns muddled, no matter what text or image one has in mind. To try to parse them in reference to Rembrandt's Wedding Feast of Samson is perhaps in some sense to ignore the degree to which the sheer pathos of the story could itself be the main subject of artistic interest, over and above whatever moral reading we might give the image. As Rembrandt's Samson puts the riddle to the Philistines, he turns away from his bride, twisting into a pose somewhat like that of his flailing counterpart in The Blinding of Samson (fig. 26). In the latter, the wide-eyed face of Delilah,

looking over her shoulder as she flees with the shorn locks, is juxtaposed with the horrific extinguishing of Samson's own gaze. The Wedding Feast of Samson constructs a similar relationship between the bride's

gaze in the center and the suggestively darkened visage of Samson who, as his body passes into the more shadowed space on the right, leaves his bride alone, vulnerably, in the light. Perhaps it is only then that she looks at us. In meeting her gaze, what sort of relationship do we enact with her? Are we to imagine ourselves as guests at the wedding, perhaps as being among the Philistines involved in the wager with Samson? (Judges 14.11 notes that there were thirty of these, certainly more than are visible in Rembrandt's scene.) In the biblical story, the contact between the bride and the other Philistines at the wedding feast is not in itself a sexual matter, but it is worth noting how quickly it leads to one. Two verses later, Samson's father-in-law gives his daughter, Samson's bride, in marriage to another man. The segue from the bride's contact with the Philistines to her father's transfer of her to another man emphasizes the underlying theme: who has access to, and control over, the woman. For Jacob Cats, the bride's contact with the wedding guests obviously has sexual implications; as he admonishes the bachelors: "Hands off! This meat [i.e., the bride] is already sold." 51 In Rembrandt's Wedding Feast of Samson, the bride's gaze at us, and ours at her, at least raises such issues. The degree to which the painting "genders" its audience as male is nevertheless quite labile: that is, a viewer's awareness that his or her own role as viewer suggests an analogy with the role played by the Philistine guests in the biblical story need not involve that viewer's literal identification with the (male) Philistines. Surely, however, both male and female viewers are meant to appreciate 68




what we might call the resonance b etween the bride's gaze in the painting

After Ad riaen van de Venne ,

and the dramatic framework of the narrative, which in effect revolves

Husband,Wife, and Portrait-

around the issue of Samson possessing-or not possessing-his bride,

Painter. Engraving in Jacob Cats ,

especially when the biblical story is placed in the context of contemporary

Houwelijk (Middelburg, 1625).

Dutch notions of bridal decorum. In seventeenth -century Holland, the female gaze, even in the form of a painting, could be a perilous thing. Elsewhere in Houwelijk, Cats's reflections on whom a betrothed or married woman may look at and who may look at her lead him to the subject of painting: for a man to be the recipient of a woman's gaze by way of a painted image might signify his possession of the real thing. Cats tells the story of a recently married young woman who foolishly allowed her portrait to be painted for a former suitor, who had requested it as a memento . In the engraved illustration after Adriaen van de Venne (fig . 41) the properly outraged husband arrives to put a halt to the proceedings, claiming in effect an exclusive right to his wife's gaze: "She whom you see before you," he admonishes the artist, "is my portion set apart ["mijn bescheyden deel"], I

either for

a foolish eye nor a strange brush ." 52 69



42 Rembrandt, Portrait of Saskia, 1633 . Silverpoint on parch ment. Kupferstichkabinett, /

Staatl iche Museen zu Berlin.


Benesch 427.




•• :: .

- - - ·-

For Rembrandt the female gaze clearly took on a charged significance in certain contexts. In his famous silverpoint drawing of his own bride Saskia van Uylenburgh (fig. 42), for example, Saskia appears as a shepherdess with a straw hat and a flower-the amatory trappings of the pastoral mode. We are to imagine Saskia's loving gaze, of course, as directed to Rembrandt himself as he sits there drawing her. She is for his eyes only, as the inscription at the bottom of the sheet makes clear: "this is drawn



after my wife, wh en she was 21 years old, th e third day of our betroth al, t he 8th of June, 1633." 53 The absence of a signature might be said to frame the image even further as one of th e greatest privacy, addressed mainly to t he artist himself and his wife, and perhaps to a restricted circle of those who would have recognized his handwriting and known both the young woman in the drawing and the one whom she was evidently looking at with such affection. The Wedding Feast of Samson is a different kind of work; both its subject and size (125 by 174 centimeters) allow for a larger audience. Thus it can more readily play on the idea of the bride's accessibility to multiple viewers, to the extent that its audience indulges in the fiction of reading itself into the narrative. We might place this in a broader context. Eric Jan Sluijter has shown how certain seventeenth-century Dutch paintings articulated the theme of art as seductress of the eye. For example, as we stand before a mythological painting of Actaeon and Diana by Joach im Wtewael, we are enticed by the sight of Diana's nymphs-like Actaeon himself-while closer inspection reveals in the far distance th e detail of Actaeon as a stag devoured by his own hounds, like th e moralizing coda to the story. 54 Thus the image both seduces and admonishes its (on some level implicitly male) audience. The violent end of the Samson story, of course, is not actually represented in Rembrandt's Weddjng Feast of Samson, the portentous drama of which therefore depends even more on our knowledge of the text, that is, o ur ability as viewers to position this moment within the larger narrative of the life of Samson. But surely this is precisely what Rembrandt expects of us. In so doing, we see that the bride's gaze at us is a sign of the possibility of her contact with others and thereby a proleptic reference to the catastrophic end of the story. The dramatic effect of the painting is furthermore bound up in the fact that neither Samson's bride nor any of the other figures in the scene could themselves, at the ti me of the wedding feast, have foreseen the dire events that would soon unfold. Therein lies a poignant charge: only we as viewers can appreciate the full implications of her gaze. That double look (the bride's and our own) is not necessarily illicit, but it is dangerous-for her and for us, if we imagine ourselves as being among the Philistines who will meet their end in the ensuing carnage. In this painting, Rembrandt asks us to consider our own complicity, and vulnerability, in locking eyes with the wife of such a man as Samson.


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Homer, Raphael, Rembrandt: Reading Vulcan/s Net

Amy Golahny

Rembrandt's Mars and Venus Caught in Vulcan 's Net (fig. 43) portrays a confrontational and humorous episode concerning the tangled familial and erotic relationships among the gods. Having caught his wife and her lover in his own bed, Vulcan demands recompense for the shame of Venus's behavior. Numerous figures-some sixteen in all-gather in the Olympian clouds to witness Vulcan's appeal to Jupiter for restitution. By examining the drawing's primary textual and visual sources, I hope to show how Rembrandt reinterpreted a well-known text. 1 Although several nineteenth-century scholars doubted the authenticity of Mars and Venus Caught in Vulcan 's Net, their hesitation quite probably was connected to the erotic subject, and Rembrandt's authorship has not been questioned since. 2 In 1645 Philips von Zesen described a painting of the same subject b y Rembrandt on the ceiling of an Amsterdam house. Two other seventeenth-century notations, by Samuel van Hoogstraten and Filippo Baldinucci, indicate Rembrandt painted mythologies in Amsterdam houses, which suggests that the drawing may have been con nected with interior decoration. 3 However, in the absence of other visual documentation, we should consider Vulcan 's Net, which probably dates from the mid-1630s, an independent invention. The drawing is analogous to Rembrandt's six mythological paintings from the early 1630s depicting Andromeda, Proserpina, Europa, Diana, Danae, and Ganymede. Like the drawing, these paintings are dramatic inventions that focus on the display of passion in circumstances relating to seduction, abduction, revelation, or punishment. 4 T h e St or y

In the Renaissance, the visual tradition of Mars and Venus entrapped by <

Detail of fig. 43 .

Vulcan belonged to the illustrated Ovids. The subject was commonly



43 Rembrandt ' Mors and Venus C Peaught . in Vulcan's N et, ca. 1635 n in brown .in<I on . (21 I x 28 9 paper 路 cm) 路 Amsterd .路 H1storisch Museum ams



msterdam . Fo d or C 0 II ection




44 Hendrick Goltzius, Mars and

Venus Surprised by Vulcan, 1585. Engraving.

depicted in independent prints, probably because of its erotic potential. Hendrick Goltzius heightened the sensuality of the drama in his engraving of 1585 (fig . 44), which established a precedent for later works, including several versions by Joachim Wtewael. 5 These precedents locate the scene in a luxurious bedroom with the gods gathered above the bed and at the door. Goltzius showed the intertwined lovers in bed at the moment of discovery and entrapment. In contrast, Rembrandt eschewed sensual display and focused on Vulcan's appeal to the gods. Both Homer and Ovid described how Mars and Venus were caught in bed and mocked b y Vulcan and the other gods. Yet the differences between Homer's and Ovid's narratives are significant. In the Odyssey (8.266-365), Homer presented the episode as an amusing yet admonitory anecdote during a feast in the palace of Alcinous, king of the Phaecians, who was



entertaining Ulysses prior to his return to Ithaca. 6 Sung by Demodocus, the story is a discrete and complete episode, intended as an amusement for Ulysses. Homer described how the lovers carried on their affair secretly in Vulcan's house. The conversations and characterizations, here drawn from Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert's translation of 1561, are humorous and passionate: When he [Mars] saw Vulcan depart, that pleased him, He went to Vulcan's house, blinded by amorous fantasies; They sat inside the house, he took her in his arms, "Come, Princess, to bed, let us sleep without fear .... " They went to bed to take their pleasures. Sleeping, they were ensnared by Vulcan's net, against which Mars struggled, But Mars could neither move nor leave the bed. Vulcan had not gone far toward Lemnos When he returned home with a heavy heart ... For the sun, keeping watch for this mischief, told him [of it]. Enraged by fierce jealousy, he called out before the door, So that all the gods would hear ... "O Jupiter, and all you other blessed and comely gods, Come, look upon this slanderous fact .. . See how Venus always dishonors me and scorns my lameness!" 7 Neptune, Mercury, and Apollo, came immediately and Jupiter evidently followed, although his arrival is not mentioned: The gods gathered there with great commotion. Neptune, mover of the earth, also came to look, Mercury together with Apollo saw this unchaste fact, But the goddesses all stayed at home out of shame. 8 Vulcan, acutely aware both of his own misshapen form and of Mars's robust handsomeness, lamented the unchaste behavior of all women and his own unfaithful wife in particular. The gods agreed that Vulcan was lame but cunning, and that the strong Mars should pay the fine of the adulterer. 9 A merry and lusty exchange between Apollo and Mercury reveals their own desire for Venus :






Apollo spoke to Mercury, who laughed heartily: "Wouldn't you enjoy lying beside the beautiful Venus for a night of pleasure?" Mercury didn't think long about this; He said: "O Lord Apollo, were that to happen once, Even if he were to catch me in a net made three times stronger, And all the gods were to look down upon me in shame, Still I should desire to lie beside the beautiful Venus ." 10 Neptune, alone of the gods, did not laugh, but ordered Vulcan to free Mars and offered to pay the reparations : "Untie him ... let him get dressed, I will be his guarantor .... " "Let him go, let your anger subside; If Mars runs a way and he refuses to pay up, I myself will pay." 11

The episode is laden with familial and erotic associations . According to one legend, Vulcan, the son of Juno and Jupiter, was born before they were married and therefore Juno cast him out to be raised by the sea nymph Thetis, herself Neptune's lover. Another legend said that Vulcan was a child of Juno alone, although he was later accepted as Jupiter's son. Born with a deformed foot, he was marked by lameness and mocked for it. At any rate, the son Vulcan, having caught his own wife in an adulterous situation, confronts his father Jupiter, who was certainly not known for marital fidelity. Vulcan laments not just Mars's strength and Venus's unfaithfulness, but also his own misery: "I am lame, but I am most saddened b y this: I My parents are responsible, and I wish that they had not begotten me! " 12 When all else has been said, the son blames the parents for his predicament. Ovid's Metamorpho ses (4.171 - 89) abbreviates Homer's account. Apollo, still the informer, told Vulcan of the adultery. Vulcan fashioned a net to catch the lovers and then opened wide the doors of his house and invited the gods to see the trapped pair. Ovid omitted nearly all the conversation, stating only that one god half-envied Mars . Ovid mentioned none of the gods by name, and although he did not specify, the group presumably included both gods and goddesses . Most relevant for Rembrandt's drawing, Ovid did not recount Vulcan's appeal to Jupiter and its resolution. By emphasizing the consequences of the lovers' affair and Vulcan's demand for retribution, Rembrandt therefore followed Homer's account, though he d eviated from it by including the goddesses. Perhaps this reflects 77


Rembrandt's familiarity with the Ovidian narrative; more likely, Raphaelesque images incorporating goddesses in the context of another myth may have prompted Rembrandt to include them. R e mbr a ndt 's S k etc h

Although quite small, Rembrandt's drawing (fig. 43) presents a complete and dynamic tableau, legible to anyone familiar with the ancient text. Among the clearly identifiable main figures are, from left to right: Venus and Mars, who attempt to avoid one another in the net; Vulcan, with his uneven legs, who holds the net and a mallet; a seated Hercules with lion skin on his head and a club; Jupiter holding a thunderbolt; and Juno with a peacock. Cupid, identified by his quiver, peeks from above the cloud. Less readily identifiable figures include, from left to right: a small couple at the distant left; a seated robed female; three heads (one with large ears, one shaded, and one who holds a cloth over his nose); a standing couple with heads close together; and a couple at the far right, with a stick between them. Some of these figures are sketched in a cursory manner (Cupid is formed of just a few lines suggesting his head and the arrows in his quiver), while others, such as Vulcan and Jupiter, are more elaborately worked. All the onlookers react differently to the confrontation between Vulcan and Jupiter. The seated woman seems to smile as she pulls her robes closely around her, as if maintaining her modesty in the face of the adul terers. Hercules looks at the trapped lovers thoughtfully, even wistfully. Jupiter, a thick beard framing his chin, sits imperiously on a bench, and seems to regard Vulcan quizzically. Juno, her lips pursed, sits stiffly in disapproval. The head with the big ears grins, the shaded head scowls, and the head with covered nose reacts as if to a foul smell. These three heads, responding through the sense of sight, hearing, and smell may well be emblematic reactions to cuckoldry. The bird strategically placed between Jupiter's legs is not the eagle that usually accompanies Jupiter, but perhaps a rooster, symbol of cuckoldry. Rembrandt's drawing both responds to the Odyssey and departs from it. In depicting Vulcan's plea to Jupiter and the assembled gods, Rembrandt followed Homer. However, by adding the figures of Juno and two other goddesses, he offered expressive commentary: Juno, lips pursed and back rigid, disdains the scene of infidelity; the anonymous robed goddess pulls tight her clothing in chaste modesty; while the third goddess, nude but for a turban, watches attentively. Furthermore, Rembrandt deviated from Homer by setting the event in the heavens, and by depicting the lovers encased in the net that Vulcan has dragged before the gods. In this way, Rembrandt not only implied that Vulcan caught the lovers in the act, but also that he carried them from the bedchamber to the clouds. Other





details accord with the tone of the Homeric passage, but are not found in it. Hercules, who has no spoken part in the text, seems to smile to himself as if thinking the same thoughts as those voiced by Apollo and Mercury. Rembrandt's Vulcan demands retribution before Jupiter and the gods. Neptune has not yet offered his guarantee, while Jupiter presides as a silent judge. Resolution is not yet at hand. The moment shown is the concluding argument of a tense situation. The next moments will bring Neptune's offer of a guarantee and Vulcan's freeing of Mars and Venus . As a representation of the action at its most heated and unresolved point, the scene exemplifies staetveranderinge, derived from Aristotle's peripeteia, the turn-around moment that Vandel considered critical to theatrical success .13 This moment occurs just before the conflict reaches resolution, and brings into the action all the factors and players. The grand human themes here come to the fore: pride, infidelity, humiliation, insult, judgment, and friendship. Rembrandt developed an episode that depends upon the verbal exchange in Homer's narrative, but goes far beyond it in the depicted characters and their expressiveness. At the same time, he invented an image that reflects current dramatic theory and artistic practice. A visual source may help account for these deviations in setting and characters . Raphael's Council of the Gods Rembrandt's visual point of departure was a representation of another myth: Raphael's Council of the Gods, a ceiling fresco in the Villa Farnesina, Rome, which forms part of a cycle of Cupid and Psyche, based upon Apuleius's Golden Ass. In Raphael's gathering of the gods in the clouds, Venus petitions Jupiter to permit the union of Cupid and Psyche, while at the distant left, Mercury offers Psyche the goblet containing the ambrosia of immortality. 14 Raphael's fresco includes, from left to right, Psyche with a putto clinging to her leg, Mercury, Hercules, Bacchus, Apollo, Mars, Venus, Pluto, Cupid, Neptune, Jupiter, Diana, Juno, and Minerva. Two prints circulated Raphael's composition of the Council of the Gods. Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio's engraving (fig . 45) is among the ten or so prints after the Farnesina frescoes that were made under Raphael's direction.15 Another engraving after the fresco by the Master of the Die (fig. 46), most likely after Michie! Coxcie (1499-1592), belongs to a series of thirtytwo prints that provide an extended history of Psyche. Rembrandt collected prints after Raphael and surely could have owned impressions of both works. 16 Rembrandt referred twice to Caraglio's design: in the distinctive figure of Juno, with her stiff posture and pursed lips, and the bird between Jupiter's legs.11 However, the print reverses the direction of Raphael's fresco, while Rembrandt maintained its original orientation.



Generally, Rembrandt retained the directional orientation of his borrow-


ings. Thus, it seems likely that he may have used a reversed version of the

G iovanni Jacopo C araglio after

Caraglio engraving, perhaps an engraved copy in reverse, a preparatory

Raphae l, Council of the Gods,

drawing, or even a counterproof. In no other detail does Rembrandt

ca. 1525. Engravi ng.

appear to have relied upon Caraglio's print. The Master of the Di e's print after Raphael's design was published in Rome, probably around 1532 - 33 . Vasari reported that Coxcie was the inventor, although his name does not appear on any of the prints in the Psyche cycle. The attribution is supported by later tapestries based upon these designs. 18 Three of the prints are close adaptations of the Farnesina frescoes; the rest are loosely based upon other compositions by Raphael or are close to his designs. 19 Three features indicate that Rembrandt looked at the Coxcie print: the directional orientation; the older, bearded Jupiter; and the disproportionately small couple at the left. Two more similarities may be found in the elaborate headdress of the female at the right, which is reminiscent of Minerva's crested helmet, and in the seated robed female, whose pose and clothing are variants of the frontal, crescent-crowned Diana of the Coxcie print. Although Rembrandt's figure has no crescent to identify her as Diana, her attitude of extreme modesty is consistent with the chaste goddess's character. By moving her closer to 80



46 Maste r of the Die afte r Michiel Coxcie , afte r Raph ael , Council

of th e Gods, ca. 1532 -

33 .


Vulcan, and turning her to a three-quarter pose, Rembrandt seems to contrast the modesty of Diana with the lasciviousness of Venus. These points of convergence between Rembrandt's drawing and the print are not precise adaptations of motifs; rather, they suggest that Rembrandt generally recalled the print as he drew the figures. R e mbrand t's A dditional Char ac ters

Three pairs of figures in Rembrandt's drawing have not yet been identified as Homeric characters: the pair with heads together at the upper center, the couple at the far right, and the small couple at the far left. By proposing tentative identifications for these, we may come to appreciate Rembrandt's drawing as even more original in its storytelling. The pair at the upper center, with heads conspiratorially close, may be Mercury and Apollo, as suggested by Ben Broos . As we have seen, Homer related that Apollo and Mercury confided to one another their desire for Venus . The wings upon the head of the figure on the left would identify him as Mercury. With his arms held close to his body, he listens intently to his companion Apollo, who embraces him with one arm, and with th e other, holds a rounded object. If this object may be taken for a lyre, then it would be Apollo's attribute. In the Coxcie print of the Council of the Gods, Apollo holds a lyre that is rounded at the bottom, suggestive of the round shape in Rembrandt's drawing. 81


47 Maste r of the Die after Michiel Coxcie, after Raphael .Jupiter

and Cupid, ca. 1532 - 33 . Engraving.

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P r0111en~,1nt111tto 1ie11



l' augel >iolaKtc I Ifi<lmil't< col roflro Juo M<r<11rio 1<0\a da[ c<"l<'jle cora , (3 chia111a 1Mtti idei <Onci.J1oro â&#x20AC;˘



One more observation may be made of this group. The two figures ' pecu liar huddle bears a strong similarity to the group of Jupiter and Cupid in the previous print of the Coxcie series (fig. 47), in which Jupiter embraces Cupid and gives him instructions and approval to take Psyche. 20 Rembrandt appears to have adapted the group of the paternally advising Jupiter and the attentive, dutiful Cupid for the joking Mercury and Apollo. In the print, Jupiter's hand rests upon Cupid's shoulder; in Rembrandt's drawing, Apollo's hand rests upon Mercury's shoulder. Leafing through the Coxcie prints, Rembrandt may have found this huddling pair of Jupiter and Cupid a motif adaptable for Mercury and Apollo. The couple at the far right, standing behind Juno, attends to the main action of Vulcan's appeal to Jupiter. The man, hunching forward, has a furrowed brow- a sign of serious purpose. He, or the adj a cent woman, holds a staff. He may be

eptune, the staff a cursory trident. I propose

that the woman is his consort Thetis. Neptune plays the key role as guarantor in Vulcan's defense . Thetis was married to Peleus and bore Achilles, then returned to her native sea to become one of Neptune's lovers. Having helped raise the boy Vulcan, she would be sympathetic to his predicament. In design, she is a variant of Raphael's depiction of Minerva in the Council of the Gods; her turbaned headdress is an embellishment of the crested helmet worn QY Minerva, and the nearby armor at the right is reminiscent of Minerva's breastplate. The oddly pointed shape in front of her resembles a helmet, displaced from Minerva's head. The breastplate and helmet 82




would indicate the armor wrought by Vulcan that she had brought to Achilles during the Trojan wars; here, these forged tools may be considered attributes that aid in identifying her as Thetis, and also that indicate her friendship with Vulcan. She may be urging Neptune to speak up, to take the lead in gaining a satisfactory resolution for Vulcan. Only with Neptune's guarantee will Vulcan be appeased and release Mars. Homer, who stated the goddesses remained at home, did not mention Thetis, nor is she accounted for by any other text. But as

eptune's con-

sort and Vulcan's nurturer, her presence is appropriate. Rembrandt's inclusion of Thetis indicates not only a broad familiarity with the myths and relationships between the gods, but also a willingness to depart from Homer's text for expressive purposes. Finally, the two small figures in the distant left, derived from their counterparts in the Coxcie print, may be tentatively identified as Ulysses and Penelope. This identification finds support in another passage of the Odyssey. Before the feast at which Demodocus sang of the affairs of Mars

and Venus, the Phaecians prepared ships and provisions for Ulysses' journey home. Eager to send their guest off with festivities, the Phaecians held the banquet with dancing, games, and singing. After Demodocus completed his song, Ulysses expressed his admiration to Alcinous, who called to his own noblemen to equip their guest for his journey home. One of the nobles, Eurialus, gave Ulysses an especially beautiful sword, saying: "Be joyous, father, and ... I May the wind carry you .... I May God help you return home to your wife, released from all your sorrow .... "21 In the drawing, the female wears a long robe; the legs of the male are bare. The parallel between Ulysses and Vulcan here thus resonates with cautionary meaning. Ulysses, absent from Ithaca for so many years, feared for Penelope's fidelity. The contrast between Penelope's fidelity and Venus's infidelities is strong, but strong too is the parallel between Psyche and Penelope. Psyche's love for Cupid was tested in various trials, just as Penelope's love for Ulysses was tested by his long absence and the persistent suitors. Psyche and Penelope both triumphed in their love for their respective mates. Rembrandt seems to have extracted the pure love between Psyche and Cupid depicted in Raphael's invention, and applied it to the passion between Penelope and Ulysses. If these figures may be considered the reunited couple, then they represent closure to Homer's epic as well as a moral counterpart to the escapade of Mars and Venus.



R a ph ae l in t h e Nort h : T h e Pr in t as t h e Me dium of t h e M essa g e

For Vulcan 's Net, Rembrandt looked to Raphael's decorative cycle for guidance in his own work, possibly made in connection with house decoration. Raphael's frescoes, intended to amuse the guests of Agostino Chigi as they dined in the grand villa along the Tiber, would have provided a suitably lighthearted model for witty reference. However, as we have seen, Rembrandt did not refer only to prints produced directly under Raphael's direction, he also looked to another extensive set of prints, of which the two he adapted were most faithful to Raphael's designs. Unless connoisseurs had read Vasari's statement that this series was by the Flemish painter "Michele" (whom we understand to be Michiel Coxcie), they may not have recogni zed Coxcie's authorship . From Karel van Mander's Italian Lives, the reader might have associated the series with Italian designers rather than with a Northern artist who had studied Raphael's works in Rome. In the life of Giulio Romano, van Mander stated that Giulio painted a Life of Psyche in Mantua, which was copied by Battista Franco, circulated in print, and "in our Netherlands, considered to be by Raphael (I believe)." 22 It is possible that van Mander understood the Coxcie series of thirty-two prints to reflect this project. If so, yet another grand Renaissance fresco cycle would have lent credence to the Psyche story as a suitable model for the decoration of an Amsterdam house. Coxcie, who spent the years around 1530 to 1538 in Rome, returned to Mechelen by 1539, and had a successful career there. Van Mander noted that Coxcie's paintings relied upon Raphael's Vatican frescoes, and that one altarpiece in particular-Coxcie's Last Supper of 1567 in the Brussels cathedral - depended upon the Disputa. The two compositions were easily compared through Hieronymous Cock's 1552 publication of the grand engraving by Giorgio Ghisi after the Disputa. Van Mander reported that when the similarities between the two designs were recognized, Coxcie was none too pleased. 23 Elsewhere, van Mander made the point that artists should disguise their reliance upon others' inventions. The oftcited phrase, "Well-cooked turnips make good soup" encapsulates this concept, and implies that artists who improved upon their sources were praiseworthy, while those who did not deserved scorn. Northern artists, Coxcie foremost among them, eagerly mined Raphael's imagery, but they were not always successful in concealing their sources. It is tempting to assume that Rembrandt consulted the Coxcie/Master of

the Die series for his design because he recognized that a Netherlander had supplied the compositions. He would then be attentive and sympathetic to a Northerner creating works in Raphael's manner. But Rembrandt




seems to have been interested in getting as close to the inventor as possible, for he characteristically sought out proof impressions, as well as rare and expensive drawings and prints by Mantegna and Lucas van Leyden. Rembrandt would have understood that the Psyche series was a Raphaelesque design, and he certainly would have recognized that three prints in the series, two of which he chose as his compositional inception for Vulcan 's Net, were very close to Marcantonio's and Caraglio's engravings of the Farnesina cycle. Coxcie's authorship of the engravings may not have been known to Rembrandt; if he had been aware of it, he might have rejected the series as an intermediary between Raphael and his own adaptation. Challenging Poetic Authority and Temporal Unity

The narrative technique of showing two scenes in one frame flourished in the Renaissance, especially in print illustrations. As artists applied precepts of dramatic theory more consistently to their painting during the seventeenth century, however, they became more reluctant to violate the unity of time and place in painting. Continuous narration, which showed the same character more than once, became more unusual in the rendition of histories. Yet.the representation of two separate incidents in a sing le frame, without repeating the characters, was not unusual. Rembrandt occasionally included two events occurring at the same time to demonstrate present and future action, as in his etching The Agony in the Garden (Bartsch 75). There the main episode of Christ wrestling with the angel occurs in the foreground, and the secondary event, the arrival of the Roman soldiers, is seen in the distance. Vulcan 's Net shows two moments within a single field to demonstrate cause and effect. Raphael's composition The Council of the Gods sanctioned the inclusion of two or more episodes in a single frame. The fresco and the Caraglio engraving presented two separate events: Mercury giving Psyche the drink of immortality and Venus pleading to Jupiter. Coxcie's print after the original contains yet a third episode, Mercury bringing Psyche to Mount Olympus. Thus the two prints after Raphael's image broke temporal unity by introducing two, or three, events that were not simultaneous, but occurred in a sequence: Venus pleading before the gods, Mercury giving Psyche the drink, and (in the Coxcie) Mercury bringing Psyche to Olympus. Rembrandt, by contrast, concentrated on one main episode, that of Vulcan's appeal, and relegated the later encounter of Ulysses and Penelope to the background. In its inclusion of several episodes, Rembrandt's composition recalls Raphaelesque narrative. In Vulcan's Net, Rembrandt crafted a visual corollary to a poetic text, and by adding and animating characters, he enhanced that text. By introduc85


ing the reunion of Ulysses with Penelope, Rembrandt depicted multiple moments simultaneously, challenging the temporal unity of Homer's narrative perhaps to demonstrate the primacy of visual over verbal representation. The sheet reflects Rembrandt's thought process, which visualized the song of Demodocus, and implicitly, the effect of the song upon Ulysses, and possibly the conclusion of the entire epic. R e mb ra ndt a nd H o m e r

The classical canon privileged Virgil's lofty goals over Homer's earthy adventures. The example of Aeneas lent a nobility to republican purpose and personal behavior, whereas the battles, behavior, and desires of Ulysses and his cohorts were often considered vulgar and all too human. Julius Caesar Scaliger set forth this view in his Poetices libri septem (Leiden, 1561), which was used in the Leiden Latin School that Rembrandt attended. But this was not the only view. The works of Homer were available in Dutch, and were familiar to readers without academic training. The many Dutch editions of Homer indicate a high level of demand and popularity. The Iliad had been translated by van Mander (Haarlem, 1611) and by Jan Hendriksz Glazemaker (Amsterdam, 1658); the Odyssey by Coornhert (Haarlem, 1561 with later editions) and by Gijsbert van Staveren (Amsterdam, 1651). Vandel, who translated the Aeneid twice, had praise for Homer. In general, the appreciation for one author did not diminish that for the other during Rembrandt's era. 24 Rembrandt seems to have been uninterested in Virgil, but fascinated by Homer. Vulcan 's Net reveals his careful reading of the Odys ey, and may be the only instance of Rembrandt's concern with Homer's writings. In 1652, Rembrandt drew Homer Reciting Verses (fig. 94) in Jan Six's album amicorum Pandora. Six owned several editions, in Greek and Latin, of Homer's work and Rembrandt, in close contact with Six during the period 1647 to 1654, would have taken into account Six's keen interest in Homer for the drawing. 25 Rembrandt also featured Homer in two canvases made for Antonio Ruffo .26 In Aristotle with the Bust of Homer (1653, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), he included a marble head of the poet, based upon the sculpture in his own collection, and in Homer Teaching (1663, Mauritshuis, The Hague), he painted the poet as teacher, with the likeness of the ancient marble. That Rembrandt carefully worked out this painting of Homer is clear from a preparatory drawing (Benesch 1066), in which a young man awaits the poet's next words in order to record them. Ruffo's inventory of 1673 describes th is painting as "Homer, with two disciples," so it is almost certain that the original canvas contained two pupils. Each of Rembrandt's three portrayals of Homer takes as a point of departure an Italian Renaissance composition. The 1652 drawing Homer 86



Reciting Verses derives compositionally from Raphael's Parnassus, the fresco in the Vatican Stanze of which a variant was engraved by Marcantonio Raimondi. Although Raphael presents Homer as noble and elegant among the gods, Rembrandt shows him as a plainly dressed poet of modest means entertaining listeners, possibly for monetary or material support. In Aristotle with the Bust of Homer, the philosopher seems to venerate the marble head of the poet; the composition is based upon a Venetian portrait of a man in his study, Sebastiano Florigerio's Raffaello

Grassi (Uffizi, Florence). In the Italian model, the main figure rests his hand casually upon a bust of Minerva, a gesture that proclaims his ownership of the sculpture and also his alliance with all that Minerva represented: wisdom, military strength, and wealth. In Homer Teaching, which shows the poet earning his livelihood not from the glory of his own poetry but from the repetitive process of instruction, the Italian model is Titian's grand double portrait of D'Armagnac and Philandrier (Alnwick Castle, Northumberland). 27 This painting of a nobleman and his amanuensis shows a man so wealthy and professionally important that a secretary is essential to his position . Thus the Italian models for Rembrandt's Homer show the poet exalted among the gods, as in Raphael, or as a wealthy and powerful lord dictating to his secretary, as in Titian. Rembrandt's three depictions concern the historical character of Homer, which would have been familiar to him through the biographies of the poet that circulated in various forms , especially in Coornhert's translation of the Odyssey. The pertinent details include Homer's modest means bordering upon poverty, his reciting verse in public at Chios in order to earn his keep as town poet, and his employment as a tutor for the children of Thestorides and as a schoolmaster in his own school. Antiquity in poetry and sculpture provided the themes and a visual model for Rembrandt's representations of Homer's features; the Italian Renaissance provided closer formal models . By taking on such illustrious models for his two representations of Homer as a poor and humble poet reciting verses to a crowd, and as a teacher working for a salary, Rembrandt may well have been subverting the grand and lofty values of his Italian sources. Appropriation of Italian models is no less deliberate and significant in

Vulcan 's Net. Here, however, the subject concerns a broken sham marriage, although the composition is based upon Raphael's celebration of the eternal, pure, and much-longed-for union of Cupid and Psyche. By exchanging a pure marriage with one that was corrupt and dishonest, Rembrandt ironically subverted the values propounded by the Italian artist. For

Vulcan 's Net, Rembrandt blended the Odysseys earthy tone and characters with formal models that were among the most idealized Renaissance representations of the gods.



Homer's life and work embodied extremes of high and low. It is very possible that Rembrandt found in Homer a universal artist, one who ranged from the vulgar and humble, through the naturalistic, to the heroic, and lofty. The meaning of the plain style and Rembrandt's responsiveness to Homer as exemplary of this genre have been sensitively discussed by Nicola Courtright. 28 Rembrandt's depictions of Homer and the episode of Vulcan's appeal may well have been made with respect to these rhetorical categories. R e mb ra ndt a nd t h e It a li a n R e n a i ssa n ce

Criticized by Constantijn Huygens for not making the journey to Italy, Rembrandt responded that the finest Italian art was to be seen north of the Alps, withoutthe inconvenience of travel. In his private journal (written around 1630), Huygens proclaimed: "were Rembrandt and his friend Lievens butto study the works of Raphael and Michelangelo, the two young Dutchmen would surpass their ancient and Italian predecessors." 29 Although the form of much of Huygens's passage on Rembrandt and Lievens is rhetorical, his interest in their art and personalities seems sincere. That he mentioned only Raphael and Michelangelo as representatives of Italian art may be a matter of convenience; surely these two could stand for all Italian art, and they were artists whose frescoes, architecture, and sculpture were not portable. Huygens's advocacy for an Italian journey may not be an accurate measure of how much, or how little, Rembrandt had studied Italian art up to that time. Trained in the workshops of two artists who had spent extended periods in Italy, Rembrandt was certainly exposed to the principles and exemplary images of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque. For Rembrandt, the meaning of the Italian Renaissance, and of Raphael in particular, is neither simple nor consistent. His use of the inventions and approaches of other artists occurs throughout his work, and evolves with his own art. 30 In general, Rembrandt turned to the inventions of other artists for practical solutions to specific compositional situations. Acutely aware of the strengths of those artists whose works he consulted, adapted, or subsumed into his own vocabulary, Rembrandt often selected from the canonical best. Almost throughout his oeuvre, Rembrandt found Raphael's inventions useful. 31 The art of Raphael encapsulated principles of clarity in composition, appropriate setting and elaboration of action, and graceful beauty. Rembrandt followed Raphael for the ideal of sprezzatura and selfpresentation. In his well-examined encounter with Raphael's portrait of Baldesar Castiglione, Rembrandt grafted the Italian's dynamism and grace onto a Titian posture for two self-portraits: an etching of 1639 (Bartsch 21) and a painted self-portrait of 1640 (National Gallery, London). 32 Rembrandt 88


also referred to Raphael's primacy in portraying ideal feminine beauty for his Bathsheba of 1643 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), in which the nude derives from Roxane in Caraglio's engraving Alexander Holds the Crown to Roxane.33 Th e theoretical canon of ideal beauty established

by Raphael had a pragmatic purpose in Rembrandt's art: it allowed t he Dutch artist to subvert the canon of perfection and grace in order to make nudes that were lifelike, natural, and unideal. Vulcan 's Net thus demonstrates Rembrandt's command of Renaissance

decorative composition and his humorous adaptation of an amorous mythological tale . Lifting a few intriguing motifs from a design by Raphael, Rembrandt deviated from his model by applying act ion. By relating the episode in Homer's narrative to aspects of th e story's past and future, he reveals his close reading of the ancient story and its characters. And there is humorous irony in Rembrandt's variation of Raphael's invention, when Venus beseeches Jupiter on behalf of Psyche. Rembrandt has entrapped Venus, and given Vulcan, her angry husband, the role of speaking before Jupiter. Rembrandt also may have noted t hat Neptun e, the vociferous and generous defender of Mars in Homer's account, played a prominent role as Venus's champion in Coxcie's print after Raphael. Aware of the family ties among the gods, Rembrandt referred to their tangled relationships through his adaptation of Raphael's designs.


Accidents Will Happen: The Case of Th e Nightwatch

Margaret D. Carroll

Over the years a consensus has become established in critical appraisals of The Nightwatch, Rembrandt's 1642 portrait of the Amsterdam militia company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch (fig. 48). 1 With few exceptions, writers have emphasized the ingenious ways in which the artist solves the problem of imparting a sense of unity to a group of figures to be portrayed by creating the impression that they are engaged in a narrative action. This is a critical tradition that reaches back to Rembrandt's own pupil, Samuel van Hoogstraten, who, comparing Rembrandt's militia company portrait to others of its kind, wrote in 1678: It is not enough that a painter should place his figures in rows one

beside the other, such as one can find too often here in Holland in militia buildings . The true masters bring it about that the whole work is unified [eenwezich], as Clio [the muse of history] teaches in Horace: "Let every work you make be simple and unified, as it should." This Rembrandt has done very well in the Doele [militia building] in Amsterdam, although according to some, all too well, making more work out of the large image that he had chosen to depict than of the individual portraits that he had been commissioned to paint. Yet, however open to rebuke, that same work will outlive its rivals, in my opinion, being so painterly in conception, so vigorous in the varied placement of figures, and so forceful that, as some feel, all the other works are as playing cards beside it. 2 A caption inscribed next to a watercolor copy of The Nightwatch (fig. 49) in an album belonging to Frans Banning Cocq also supports the view that Rembrandt painted the company members as if they were engaged in a narrative action: "Sketch of the painting in the great hall of the Kloveniersdoelen, in which the young Lord of Pu rm er land, as Captain, gives the order to his Lieutenant, Lord of Vlaardingen, to march off his <

D etail of fig. 48.

company of citizens ." 3 91


48 Rembrandt, The Nightwatch, 1642. Oil on canvas (363 x 437 cm). Rijksmuseum , Amsterdam .

49 Watercolor sketch of The Nightwatch , ca. 1650. From the Banning Cocq family album . Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (on loan from


J. de Graeff) .



Van Hoogstraten's point was developed and refined in Alois Riegl's

Jacques de Gheyn , Wapen-

monograph on Dutch group portraiture, published in 1902. 4 Drawing

handelinghe van roers musquet-

upon the caption indicating that this is the moment at which the captain

ten ende spiessen, plate 24 of

gives his order, Rieg! writes, "The actions of the guardsmen ... [express]

musket sequence, 1607.

how the captain's order is transmitted. It starts out as the immediate psy-


chological response of the lieutenant ... then reverberates through the various reactions of the men. "5 By thus subordinating the officers and


men to the commanding figure of the captain, Riegl argues, Rembrandt

Jacques de Gheyn , Wapen-

establishes the "internal coherence" of the group, while the outstretched

handelinghe van roers musquet-

arm of the captain establishes the "external coherence" that links the com-

ten ende spiessen, plate I 2 of

pany to the viewer. 6

musket sequence, 1607. Etching.

In the following decades writers demonstrated how the impression of the unity of the group is amplified by a variety of elements that underscore


its corporate identity. As Wilhelm Martin observed in 1947, several of the

Jacques de Gheyn , Wapen-

men are demonstrating the successive movements in the proper handling

handelinghe van roers musquet-

of the caliver or musket, the weapon with which this company and its

ten ende spiessen, plate 20 of

headquarters, or doelen, was identified.7 The men's moves correspond to

musket sequence, 1607.

actions prescribed in a drill manual with illustrations designed by Jacques


de Gheyn, published in 1607 for the stadhouder and captain-general of the States Army, Prince Maurits of Orange, Wapenhandelinghe van Roers

Musquetten ende Spiessen (Exercise of Arms in Muskets and Spears) (figs. 50-52). A figure at the left is loading his musket. 8 The figure ducking behind the captain is firing it, as can be inferred from the flash at the end of the gun barrel to the left of the lieutenant's head. And the figure to the right of the lieutenant is executing a move known as blowing the pan. 9 The powder boy, on the left, and drummer, on the right, are figures who traditionally accompanied militia companies when they marched out in time of military need, as well as on ceremonial occasions. 10 93


53 Detail of fig. 52.

Here it appears that the occasion is a festive one, when it was the custom of militia company members to don fashionab le contemporary attire, as well as antique helmets, weapons, and armor. The splendidly costumed little girl has been identified as the kind of attendant who customarily appears as a representative of the town to greet distinguished visitors on ceremonial occasions. The silver drinking cup she carries and the carefully displayed claw of the chicken that hangs at her waist associate her with the Kloveniers' headquarters, for which this portrait was painted. 11 Notwithstanding the heterogeneity of all these elements, most Rembrandt scho lars, myself included, have emphasized how Rembrandt enriched the impression of the unity of the group by at once conveying the present-day activities of Amsterdam's militia companies and at the same time recalling their historical role as armed and trained troops in service to the city and the republic .12 In this essay I would like to take the role of antagonist to this - and my own - prior account, and ask, what if Rembrandt wasn't trying to impart a sense of unity to the group, but in fact the very opposite? I have been pondering this notion ever since I noticed a puzzling discrepancy between the actions of one of the men demonstrating the proper handling of a musket in Rembrandt's painting and those of the exemplar in de Gheyn 's drill manual. The whole point of de Gheyn 's Wap enhandelinghe, and of Maurits's military reforms, was to institute a rational system of mil itary practices that was orderly, disciplined, and safe. The manual was to help officers train their troops, impose discipline, reduce accidents, and enhance their effectiveness as a fighting force . Men were to be grouped in well-organized ranks, and, when firing their guns, they were to follow a carefully prescribed sequence of moves. 13




54 Detail of fig. 48.

If one looks closely at the figure to the right of the lieutenant in The Nightwatch-the one blowing at the musket's firing pan-one can see

that he is actually making a mistake. Plate 20 of the Wapenhandelinghe (fig . 53) demonstrates the proper way to blow the residual gunpowder away from the firing pan. De Gheyn's exemplar holds the burning wick in a safe manner in his left hand, placed well along the gun barrel, with the burning ends of the wick pointing down, away from the pan-so as to avoid an injury that could result by igniting the grains of gunpowder as he blows them away. 14 Rembrandt's musket man does not follow this example (fig . 54). His wick hand is much closer to the firing mechanism; moreover the burning wick ends point up and towards it. One can almost imagine the next moment when the old man blows the gunpowder out towards the burning wick, thereby igniting a small explosion and causing who knows how grave an injury to his face and hand-not to mention the lieutenant, in whose direction the powder is being blown.15 To be sure, the discrepancy between the action in the print and that in the painting could have been inadvertent on the artist's part. But it seems to me possible that Rembrandt would have been quite careful about how he depicted the way these man handle their guns, inasmuch as, when Rembrandt was a child, his father had been injured by misfiring a musket while serving in the civic guard of Leiden. 16 95


The blast of fire exploding from a gun barrel on the other side of the lieutenant's head, moreover, reinforces the sense that Rembrandt was trying to create the impression of a volatile, potentially dangerous situation. Here the danger is registered on the face of the man standing between the captain and the lieutenant, who also gestures to deflect the gun barrel (fig. 55)-whether to protect the lieutenant or himself is not entirely clear. Viewing the portrait in this light has encouraged me to come to terms with the fact that, at least when I stand in front of the painting from the relatively close distance that would have been imposed upon a viewer in the Kloveniersdoelen, the group actually does not seem so coherent. While the captain and the lieutenant stride forward, the figures farthest back in space remain immobilized: some, apparently still on risers in front of the archway; others, jammed together behind the parapet to the left; one, perched comfortably on top of it. Further obstructing the forward movement of the men at the back is the lateral movement of the figures who cut across their path and effectively separate them from the officers: the little girls, the man firing his gun, even the dog barking at the men on the right. 11 The theatrical contrast between light and shade intensifies these effects, heightening the sense of division between different clusters of figures, while compounding the sense of confusion in the murkier areas of the composition. To be sure, the effect of breaking out and shearing apart would not strike us so forcefully unless the whole was constructed on a strong architectonic scaffolding; but all contributes here, I would argue, to enhance the explosive, centrifugal vectors of movement, rather than to bind the depicted figures into a unified group .18 Why would Rembrandt opt for such an arrangement? Certainly, for pictorial and theatrical effect. But I would like to hypothesize that the subtle intimations of disaster serve not merely an anecdotal purpose, but an emblematic one as well: to challenge whatever confidence a viewer might have in the military competence of Amsterdam's militia men and of the officers appointed to lead them . To clarify this point, let us go back to two works painted in the 1620s, which also make reference to de Gheyn's Wapenh andelinghe. Both group portraits emphasize the role played by Amsterdam's militia companies in civic and national defense. Werner van den Valkert's Company of Captain

Albert Coenraetsz Burcht and Lieutenant Pieter Evertsz Hulft (fig. 56) portrays the company members planning for the defense of the city and the republic. The lieutenant holds a book of fortification plans, while the captain poses a compass over a diagram of Amsterdam's Oude Waal. A man to the right holds open a copy of Jacques de Gheyn 's Wap enhandelinghe (fig. 57) . The shield of Amsterdam adorns the mantelpiece, and the arms 96


55 Detail of fig. 48.



56 Werner van den Valkert,

Company of Captain Albert Coenraetsz Burcht and Lieutenant Pieter Evertsz


1625. Oil on wood . Amsterdams Historisch Of.LINC! IE:. •~NDt:

1"'.v;~rnc N

Museum , Amsterdam .


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ncur. ende Capircyn Gcneracl oucr Gddcdant H o ll anr =

Vtrccht Overy"sscl

Jacques de Gheyn , Frontispiece




to Wapenhandelinghe van roers

i)r '®Gttjn .

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musquetten ende spiessen,

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of the prince of Orange are emblazoned on the company's banner. While

Claes Pietersz Lastman and

the shield and banner affirm the militia men's allegiance to the city and

Adriaen van Nieulandt,

stadhouder, the military plans and books attest to their role in planning

Company of Captain Abraham

for the defense and security of Amsterdam. 19

Boom and Lieutenant Anthonie Oetgens, 1622. O il on canvas.

The portrait of the Company of Captain Abraham Boom and Lieutenant

Amsterdams Historisch

Anthonie Oetgens by Claes Pietersz Lastman and Adriaen van

Museum, Amsterdam.

(fig. 58) refers to the occasion when, in September 1622, Amsterdam's


militia companies marched out to relieve the military garrison in the town of Zwolle and to drill there with the militia companies of that city. 20 A sch utter (company member) on the left models a plumed helmet and

armor similar to that worn by the exemplary pikeman in de Gheyn's military manual. 21 In the background on the right, militia men drill and march in military formation. The same event was commemorated in a poem by Jan Jansz Starter and an accompanying print by Gillis van SchUndel (fig. 59). 22 In the print, under a banner inscribed "Concord Makes Strength" ("Eendracht maeckt macht"), a large deputation of the citizens' militia of Amsterdam marches across a broad plain in strict military formation, while in the background they are shown drilling outside the walls of Zwolle. In the foreground, the heraldic lion of the United Provinces, armed with the shield of Amsterdam, and a cluster of arrows signifying Concord (e endracht), towers over allegorical groups captioned "Division of the State" ("Scheuring van de Stadt"), "Religious Conflict" ("Tweedracht van Religie"), and "Envy" ("Nyd"). As described by Starter, the event was an occasion on which the citizens' militia of Amsterdam demonstrated their loyalty to the stadhouder, the prince of Orange, and the common project of renewed war against Spain. While in Zwolle they received training in marching and the handling of



Wt-treckipge v; nde.Borgery

A MSTERDAM , tot niTill:cntie vand e Stad Swol, b dl:aende in een Compagnie ''an i30. Koppen, on<lcT 't bCleyd van Capiteyn Abra!- no.,n, oud Schcpen,Roed ende Threforier van Amftcrdaro. Luy tenant A1rtlxmy Ottgt11r, ond Schepcn ende Raed dcr (elver St<-de, cu de Jacob I.1rf:Jom9路11 Vacndcich, den 16. September x 6 1 t . Geikd1(a1t E. Hccren Schotll, B111g<m:uf/trcn, Sclxptr<ncnde Raden dcr Sratk Amf/erd,.m, Mirfg.ukrs dt E.Mm1b'!fie Krijg/!f ra:d,Colondltn, Capitaintn mde Littdt11a1rtC1J d&rfai>er Sttde,daor ha1r ond&rd: Dien: L Slarttr.

weaponry according to the military reforms instituted by Prince Maurits


of Orange, so that as citizen-soldiers they could serve as disciplined and

Gillis van Schijndel, illustration

effective defenders of their city and the republic.

for Jan Jansz Starter,


"Wt-trecking van de Bo rgery

Starter's poem also addresses the problem of religious division between

van Amsterdam . .. den

two groups of Dutch Calvinists : the more liberal Remonstrants and the

26. Septe mber 1622," 1623.

more conservative Counter-Remonstrants . What was originally a doctri-


nal dispute concerning predestination eventually divided the population as a political dispute : on one side, the Counter-Remonstrants called for reli gious uniformity enforced by strong Calvinist church authority, and on the other side, Remonstrants championed religious pluralism, tolerance, and strong secular authority. Starter's poem, sympathetic to the Remonstrant position, was a plea for diversity and tolerance, arguing that all groups could unite in loyal service to the stadhouder and in common dedication to defeating the Spanish enemy. Remonstrant militia company members who commissioned this portrait clearly wished to identify them se lves with a similar argument: that they were loyal citizens dedicated in their military service to the city of Amsterdam and to th e defense of the republic .24 In the following years, thanks in part to the support of Frederik Hendrik, who had become stadhouder in 1625, the Remonstrant regents and their sympathizers tightened their hold on the regime in Amsterdam; the regents in turn supported the stadhouder in the conduct of war and negotiations for peace. 25 After 1633, however, the situation began to change. Frederik Hendrik negotiated a military alliance with France and abandoned the attempt to negotiate peace with Spain. With the financial backing of France, he undertook almost yearly campaigns to extend the southern borders of the United Provinces into provinces under the dominion of 100


60 Rembrandt, The Resurreaion, ca.1635-39.0il on canvas. Alte Pinakothek, Bayerisches Staatsgemaldesammlungen , Munich .

Spain. The regents in Amsterdam, no longer needing Frederik Hendrik to protect them against the Counter-Remonstrant opposition, withheld support from the stadhouder's military projects, because the regents' economic interests, for the most part as merchants in the European trade, were better served by peace than continued war. At the same time Amsterdam's Counter-Remonstrants did not rally very energetically behind the prince, because of their dismay at his alliance with Catholic France and his professed intention to respect Catholic worship in the southern provinces should he recapture them .26 Thus support for the stadhouder and his military efforts was weak, and Frederik Hendrik resented it, especially when, in the years after 1637, his military fortunes took a turn for the worse. Notwithstanding a series of 101


failed attacks and outright defeats in the battlefield, the States of Holland,


led by Amsterdam, continually pressed to lower troop levels and their

Remb ra ndt, Concord of th e

financial contributions to the army. At one point in 1638, the prince bitterly

State, ca. 1642. O il on wood .

announced, "I have no greater enemy than the city of Amsterdam." 27

Museum Boijman sVan Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Rembrandt may well have been mindful of Frederik Hendrik's deepening frust r ation through his contacts with the stadhouder's court. In the late


1630s Rembrandt was completing his Passion series for the prince (fig. 60)

Detai l of fig. 61.

and actively cultivating ties with the members of court, most notably in his correspondence with Constantijn Huygens. 28 As secretary of the prince, Huygens faithfully accompanied Frederik Hendrik on his yearly campaigns. He forwarded reports from the battlefield to the stadhouder's wife, Amalia van Solms, and oversaw matters of military administration and organization.29 Rembrandt's Concord of the State (fig. 61) corresponds to the work described in Rembrandt's 1656 inventory as "Eendragt van 't lant." 30 Most likely painted in the late 1630s or early 1640s, Rembrandt's grisaille has long been recognized to address some of the same themes taken up in the print accompanying Starter's poem. 31 As with the print, the painting may be interpreted as at once an allegorical call for concord and at the same time a warning against the division and dissension that still threatened national unity. Emblematic elements have been interpreted to convey the danger of dissension, most notably the arrows that are scattered under the lion's paw rather than grasped in a single cluster. Even more striking 102


63 Plate from Caspar Barlaeus,

Mediceo Hospes, sive descriptio publicae gratulationis, qua serenissimiam augustissimamque reginam, Mariam de Medicis, excepit senatus populusque Amstelomanensis (Amsterdam,


is the evident difference between the troops in the back that are already charging into battle under the leadership of a mounted commander, and the ones milling around in the foreground. 32 In contrast to the regimented citizens who are hailed in Starter's poem for their readiness and enthusiasm to serve as a fighting force on behalf of the state, these men gathered near the shield of Amsterdam seem to be altogether unaware of and indifferent to the cavalry attack that is being launched behind them. In the foreground where, according to the decorum of battlefield pictures, we would expect to see the imposing figure of the commander, Rembrandt has placed a latecomer to the mounted troops, who only now clambers laboriously into his saddle (fig. 62). Scholars have often pondered the thematic relation between The Nightwatch and the Concord of the State. 33 I would suggest it is something like

this: by the depiction of historicizing costumes, weaponry, and imagery, both paintings call to mind the military accomplishments of the country's former citizen-soldiers; at the same time both works call into question the military ethos and effectiveness of Amsterdam's present-day heirs to those earlier heroic traditions. If we contrast the marching figures in The Nightwatch to the marching figures in Lastman's and van Nieulandt's

portrait commemorating the events of 1622, we can gauge the distance traveled. The men are no longer ranged in carefully spaced files and rows. The pikes on the right are in a bit of a tangle. The figure with a stovepipe hat behind the two officers is wielding not an infantry man's pike but a jousting lance. 34 103


64 Rembrandt, The Triumph of

Mordecai, ca. 1642. Etching. Rijksmuseum ,Amsterdam. Bartsch 40.

To b e sure, some of this lapse in martial decorum makes sense: by the late 1630s Amsterdam's militia companies had largely abandoned their military function. 35 They now served in a more purely ceremonial capacity -as for example, when they lined the parade route during the Joyous Entry into Amsterdam of Maria de' Medici in September 1638 (fig. 63), and of Prince Willem II and his wife Maria Henrietta in May 1642. 36 After 1633, there is no record of Amsterdam's militia companies marching out to relieve m ilitary garrisons; and there is no evidence that they resumed the practice of drilling at marching and at weapon handling until the second half of the seventeenth century. 37 But even on ceremonial occasions such as the entries of 1638 and 1642, the city's militiamen were under orders not to shoot unless commanded to d o so by their officers. 38 Given that municipal order, I would guess that for a mem b er of the company to fire his weapon into his own ranks, as shown in Rembrandt's painting, would have been construed by a contemporary militiaman either as an act of insubordination on the part of the man shooting, or of misjudgment on the part of the officer who had given him the order to do so. Put another way, the careless manner in which the men on both sides of Lieutenant van Ruytenburch mishandle their weapons reflects poorly not just on the two individuals, but on the officers having authority over them. We are now in a better position to consider the thematic relation between The Nightwatch and Rembrandt's Triumph of Mordecai, etched around 104


65 Detai l of fig. 48.

1642 (fig. 64). As Christian Tl.impel and Egbert Haverkamp Begemann have noted, both works are scenes of civic triumph. 39 To this I would add : in both works the scene of triumph is shadowed by intimations of disaster. In the Triumph of Mordecai, the doomed figure is the royal officer, Haman, who has been ordered to lead his mortal enemy, Mordecai, through the streets of the city, proclaiming, "Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor."40 Shortly thereafter Haman hangs himself on the gibbet he had originally had constructed for Mordecai. In the etching, Haman's haunted expression suggests an awareness of his disgrace and imminent downfall . In The Nightwatch the tone is certainly lighter, and the officers seem oblivious to the melee unfolding behind them . However, the subtle indications of division and strain in the etching are developed in the painting to an even greater intensity. Moreover, the contrast between the two officers is almost as dramatic as that between the two enemies in the Triumph of Mordecai: on the one side, the sober, commanding figure of Captain Banning Cocq: on the other, the cavalier and dandyish figure of Lieutenant van Ruytenburch (fig. 65) .41 The ominous shadow that fa lls across his body further encourages the viewer to wonder whether this triumphal parade of a militia company in Amsterdam might at any moment dissolve into disaster and disarray. 105

Rembrandt van Rijn and Gerrit Dou: An Evolving Relationship?

Ivan Gaskell

A comparison of two works, Painter with Pipe and Book (fig. 66), and Holy Family with Painted Frame and Curtain (fig. 67), 1 suggests some ways in

which we might begin to reconceive the likely nature of the relationship between Rembrandt van Rijn and his first student, Gerrit Dou. Jan Orlers reports that the nearly fifteen-year-old Dou joined the twenty-one-yearold Rembrandt in Leiden as an apprentice in February 1628. 2 In 1628 Rembrandt still had his reputation to make. Dou presumably remained until Rembrandt's removal to Amsterdam in the spring or summer of 1631, yet their relationship, in the sense of a mutual awareness of one another's art, did not end with Rembrandt's departure. Rembrandt - a careful looker and collector-was most likely aware of his former student's growing international reputation, which wo uld eventually overtake even his own. Dou's responsibility for the Painter with Pipe and Book has never been seriously doubted. Ronni Baer follows Wilhelm Martin in dating it about 1645. 3 The Holy Family with Painted Frame and Curtain is dated 1646. It has long been attributed to Rembrandt, though his authorship ought not to be taken for granted, especially in the light of the somewhat unusual character of this painting in the context of his assumed oeuvre. It is possible, though, that its peculiarity, which I shall describe in some detail, is in part the consequence of a continuing relationship of response to one another's art between master and former student. Painter with Pipe and Book and the Holy Family with Painted Frame and Curtain obviously exploit the same device: the painted fictive curtain

drawn aside from what is therefore perceptible as a painting-within-apainting, or a painting of a painting. As Baer points out, curtains were actually used to protect paintings from light and dust. 4 Gabriel Metsu's <

D etai l of fig. 6 7.

Portrait of Gillis Valckenier and His Family of about 1657 (Gemaldegalerie, 107




67 Rembrandt, Holy Family with

Painted Frame and Curtain, 1646. Oil on wood (46.8 x 68.4 cm) . Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Museen, Kassel.

66 Gerrit Dou , Painter with Pipe

and Book, ca. 1645. Oil on wood (48 x 37 cm) . Rijksmuseum , Amsterdam.



68 Gabr iel Metsu , Woman Reading

a Letter with a Maid. Oil on wood . N ational Gallery of Ire lan d, Dublin.

Berlin) shows a painting and its half-open protective curtain, suggesting that curtains were treated casually, but most likely they also served-on occasion at least-to make viewing a painting a calculated rather than a casual act. This is suggested by Gabriel Metsu's Woman Reading a Letter

with a Maid (fig. 68), in which the maid lifts a curtain to look at a seascape. The device of the fictive painted curtain was also exploited by other Dutch painters of trompe l' oeil compositions, such as Johannes Hannot in his

StiJl Life with Lobster (private collection). 5 I choose this example because it was in Hannot's house in Leiden that Dou's patron, Johan de Bye, organized an exhibition of twenty-seven paintings by Dou in 1665. Baer describes Painter with Pipe and Book as a trompe l'oeil, designed to deceive the eye, and she cites once more the story from Pliny's Natural

History of the Greek painter Parrhasios tricking his rival Zeuxis into 110


assuming that a curtain seemingly hanging before his painting was real, when in fact it was itself a painting. Parrhasios thereby proved his superiority as a creator of pictorial illusions. 6 The story was well known and regularly exploited by seventeenth-century Dutch artists. Both paintings prompt recollection of this story. Yet in several respects these two paintings are very different from one another. First, unlike the curtain in the Painter with Pipe and Book, the curtain in the Holy Family is executed, in

Baer's words, "with broad, painterly strokes, drawing attention to the painting's surface." 7 Before we pursue this observation further, we must make clear the role played by size and scale in these paintings. Both paintings are of a size that encourages the viewer readily to interpret the hanging curtains, rings, and rods as plausibly real at first glance. It is no coincidence, as far as their plausibility as trompe l'oeil is concerned, that the paintings share the same scale: although the Holy Family is clearly far wider than the Painter with Pipe and Book, there is only about one inch difference in their

height. They therefore assume a comparable presence in relation to the viewer. Let us return to the curtains. The curtain in the Holy Family is clearly constituted of brush strokes: indeed, it is primarily just that- a painted curtain. That the loops, which act as intermediaries between the rings and the bulk of the fabric, have the almost unambiguous character of strokes of the brush further accentuates the obviously painted character of the curtain. While its fabric is unidentifiable, by contrast, that of the curtain in Painter with Pipe and Book is specific: I take it to be a pale green dupion

silk. It is attached to the rings by means we can only infer, presumably fine threads . Whereas in the Holy Family the viewer's attention is drawn to the passage of the brush, evidence of that passage is minimal in the rendering of the curtain in the Painter with Pipe and Book. If the painters of the two works were really trying to do the same thing-paint a trompe l' oeilone would not expect such a radical difference in their execution. When Painter with Pipe and Book was shown in the exhibition Leiden fijnschilders in 1988, Eric Jan Sluijter proposed the painting as a true trompe

l'oeil. 8 In Eddy de Jongh's words, a trompe l'oeil "is basically the creation of the fullest possible illusion in paint, whereby the paint as material is, so to speak, repudiated, and the demands of style are subject to the reality of appearance. "9 While I do not dispute either of his points, I do not feel that de Jongh offers an explanation adequate to our needs. Much, indeed, depends on the paint surface and the conventions of naturalism apparently selflessly applied, but much also depends on scale, illumination, and contrived spatial relationship between viewer and object, including all111


69 Samuel van Hoogstraten , View Down a Corridor, 1662. Oil on

canvas. Dyrham Park (National Trust) .

important viewing distance. A trompe l' oeil can only function as such in physical circumstances favorable to it. For instance, the celebrated View Down a Corridor (fig. 69) by another Rembrandt student, Samuel van

Hoogstraten, could hardly deceive the eye adequately if that were not the case.10 In their maturity, Rembrandt and Dou appear to have invited and expected distinct forms of viewing of their works that differed fundamentally from each other. Everything we know about Dou's work from the pieces themselves, from the terse descriptions of them in the contract between Johan de Bye and Johannes Hannot, and from accounts of workshop visits by Joachim von Sandrart, Ole Borch, and Balthazar de Monconys, suggests 112



that they were designed to be inspected at close hand. 11 In contrast, Ernst van de Wetering has persuasively argued that Rembrandt sought to deter close inspection of his paintings. He instructed Constantijn Huygens in his letter of 27 January 1639 that the painting he is discussing should be hung in such a way "that it can be viewed from a distance ." Furthermore, Arnold Houbraken reported an anecdote that he most likely learned from a Rembrandt student, either van Hoogstraten or Arent de Gelder, that Rembrandt "tugged people away who peered too closely at his pictures when visiting his studio, saying, 'The smell of the paint would bother you.'"12 Rembrandt progressively adopted the broad manner of paint application derived from Titian's practice, described in Karel van Mander's adaptation from the second edition of Giorgio Vasari's Vite, of "pittura di macchia" (painting with splotches). In seventeenth -century terms, Rembrandt became an adherent of the "rough" rather than the "smooth" manner. We might think, therefore, of the Kassel Holy Family as a "rough" trompe l'oeil. Not only the curtain suggests this, but the manner of execution of the elaborately carved and gilded frame. In particular, the ductus of the brush is openly apparent in the paint handling of the scalloping at the top of the frame . The counterbalancing factor that permits the viewer to apprehend the painting as illusion is the fact that scale is scarcely relevant to successful perception in these terms. That is, when the viewer registers that this is a painting of an interior scene, rather than just an interior scene, the sense of scale appropriate to the illusory apprehension of the work adjusts to what is proper to a painting as an object; the painted frame overrides what is represented within it as the primary illusion, and that painted frame can be any size that is naturalistically plausible. The scene within can appear as "painted" as the artist wishes: it is not the focus of the trompe l' oeil. The mode of depiction is quite different in the two paintings. While the Holy Family is itself obviously a painted painting in its painted frame, the

painting of a painting in the Painter with Pipe and Book could itself be a trompe l'oeil from the standpoint of a hypothetical observer within the painted world of the frame, rod, and curtain. Unlike the Holy Family, the painting-within -the-painting in the Amsterdam panel exhibits a full range of illusionistic devices that, when used on a scale that might deceive (that is, so that a human head is approximately half life-size, as it would appear in a mirror), could create the trompe l'oeil illusion of a real man leaning out of a real window embrasure, rather in the manner of Samuel van Hoogstraten's Old Man at a Window (fig. 70). 13 The book seems to intrude upon the space occupied by the curtain, breaking the picture plane ofthe painting-within-the-painting; the cartouche with its curling corner simi113



70 Samuel van Hoogstraten , Old

Man at a Window, 1653. O il on canvas. Kunsthistorisches Mu se um ,Vienn a.

larly appears to belong in the framing pictorial world, not that of the painted painting. This internal trompe l'oeil ambiguity is enhanced by the choice of dep icted frame fo r the painting-within-the-painting: a narrow, p lain black profile that is the polar opposite of the elaborate painted frame within the Holy Family. Against the dark painted background one is scarcely aware of Dou's frame: only a thin streak of reflected light along part of the lower sight edge, particularly at the lower left corner, alerts the attentive viewer to its existence, thus heightening the ambiguity of the illusion. This ambiguity is compounded by the fact that the fall of light within both pictorial worlds in the Painter with Pipe and Book is identical-that of the painting-within-the-painting and that of the painting depicting it with its frame, rod, and curtain. Light therefore seems indiscriminately to cross 114


the picture plane within the painting. This was a well-established conceit in Netherlandish practice. For instance, it is to be seen very clearly in the painted frame of Jan van Eyck's Virgin and Child with Saints George and Donatian, and Canon Joris van der Paele of 1436 (Groeninge Museum,

Bruges), in which li ght from upper left within the viewer's world appears to strike the painted coat of arms on the frame bosses from the same angle and source as it does the figures in the painting. This device creates an extra layer of pictorial illusion within the Painter with Pipe and Book. In the Holy Family, by contrast, the light sources within the scene itself cannot be associated with the light illuminating the painted frame, rod, and curtain. While one strong light source illuminating the scene itself appears to come from the left beyond the picture plane (hence the shadows of the crib clothes and the bowl falling before and to the right of those objects), the primary light source illuminating the frame appears to come from the left as though within the viewer's world-or at least the world of the frame, rod, and curtain. The illumination of the paintingwithin-the-painting of the Holy Family and that of the painting of the frame, rod, and curtain are purposefully quite distinct from one anoth er. While the Painter with Pipe and Book embraces the tradition of the unification of worlds by means of an implied shared fall of light, the Holy Family emphasizes the separateness of these worlds.

The contrasting approaches to what would appear to be a shared motif is yet more complex. The painter of the Holy Family seems to have produced a trompe l'oeil, but his manner of painting it-in terms both offacture and illuminative scheme - serves to contradict or create perceptual barriers to illusion and pictorial ambiguity. The painter of the Painter with Pipe and Book also seems to have produced a trompe l' oeil, but has added an extra

layer of potential ambiguity by painting a painting of a trompe l'oeil that Baer may or may not be correct in calling a trompe l' oeil itself. Dou is anything but a painter of trompe l' oeils. Baer acknowledges that "true trompe l'oeil is rare in Dou's oeuvre." 14 There are only two instances of trompe l'oeil in Dou's known oeuvre: the Still Life with Candlestick, Pipe, and Pocket Watch (Gemaldegalerie, Dresden), of about 1660, and the Still Life with Silver Ewer, Salver, and Napkin (fig. 71), presumably of 1663. I do not

believe it to be coincidental that these are the only two known surviving painted covers that once concealed the principal painted scenes originally beneath them: the Wine Cellar (private collection, Switzerland) in the case of the former, 15 and the so-called Dropsical Woman (Musee du Louvre, Paris) in the case of the latter. Twenty-two of the paintings in Johan de Bye's exhibition of twenty-seven works by Dou in 1665 are listed as having had cases that would either have opened like the wings of a triptych, or had lids that slid out, like the top of 115



a box. 16 At least some were p ainted on the outside with still lifes by Dou


himself: the Louvre still life is on the outside of triptych wings; the still life

Gerrie Dou , Still Life with Silver

in Dresden appears to have b een of the box-lid type. These two still lifes,

Ewer, Salver, and Napkin, 1663 .

the size and scale of which encourage their perception as trompe l' oeils,

Oil on wood . Mu see du

are quite different in this respect from what would appear to be a pendant

Louvre , Paris.

pair of still lifes, both dated 164 7, of objects in similar niche-like spaces: the Still Life with Hourglass, Pen Case, and Print (fig. 72) and the Still Life


with Book and Purse (Armand Hammer Collection, Fisher Gallery,

Ge rrie Dou , Still Life with Hour-

University of Southern Ca lifornia, Los Angeles). These paintings, about

glass, Pen Case, and Print, 1647.

nine by seven inches each, are too small to be trompe l'oeils: rather, they

Oil on wood .W adsworth

are paintings of trompe l'oei ls. One wonders if they, too, were once pro-

Atheneum , Hartfo rd.


vided with cases and lids painted with actual trompe l' oeils to astonish the viewer by the subtle but unmistakable contrast between simulated reality and the depiction of that simulation, as trompe l'oeil gives way to a scaleddown generic depiction of itself when the box is opened. Even if this must remain pure speculation, we can be confident that in the cases of the Dropsical Woman and the Wine Cellar literal pictorial illusion that merely

deceives the eye - the still lifes on the outsides - is but the threshold of an altogether more sophisticated pictorial world of supreme contrivance through the miniaturization of illusion and the fictional juxtaposition of elements - people, objects, spaces-apprehensible as the viewer manipu lates the precious objects that Dou has made . For although these works 116





b ear h anging on walls-we get an idea of how one of the triptych type

George van der Mijn , The

might have looked from an eighteenth-century drawing by George van

Kunstkamer of Corne/is Ploos

der Mijn showing a work of this kind by Emmanuel de Witte (fig. 73) 18 -

vanAmstel in Amsterdam, 1760.

most of all they invite and compel close approach and manipulation. This

Watercolo r on paper. Coll.

mode of engagement is quite clearly the very opposite of what Rembrandt

F. Lugt, lnstitut Neerlandais ,

would appear to have solicited in his paintings. Even the Kassel Holy


Family demands constitutive viewing from a distance, and makes holding

the viewer back its theme. Rembrandt undermines trompe l'oeil by painting in the "rough " manner; Dou undermines trompe l' oeil by adding a further level of illusion: t he would-be trompe l'oeil painting of the painting. Yet in the Painter with Pipe and Book Dou plays further with the sca le and the painterliness

appropriate to intimate, close encounter. Dou's figu re of the painter is rendered in such a way th at when one approaches th e painting closely one can see it is actually rendered as a representation of the "ro ugh" manner. The painter is painted in the "roug h" manner miniaturized. Paradoxically, that it is ostensibly designed to be viewed from a distance is only to be seen by close examination. Dou has realized the depiction of a facture united with the use of that facture itself to create the perfect illusion of what is not illusory. Much of Dou's mature work incorporates this play with a "rough" fact ure: his brushwork is far from effaced; rather it can be thought of as a version of Rembrandt's brushwork in miniature. This is particularly apparent when Dou applies it to depictions of painters, whether generic (as in the 117



Painter with Pipe and Book) or specific, in the case of his many self-por-

traits: another field in which he implicitly confronts his former teacher's practice thematically. We see this exemplified in the manner of depiction of the shirt seen through the opening of the jerkin in both the Painter with Pipe and Book and the Self-Portrait of about 1665 (private co1lection,

Boston). 19 In each case the viewer's eye weaves the fabric from distinct threads of variously colored paint. No less than Rembrandt, but with added layers of self-consciousness in its exposition, Dou demonstrates with complex pictorial irony that depiction is made of paint, applied to deceive in one sense, but also to have independent existence as discernibly separate strokes constitutive of the painting. How, by the mid-1640s, did Dou come to this point? It is well known that Dou's early relationship with Rembrandt was obviously imitative and emulative. Examples have been pointed out by several scholars. Dou is said to have adopted the very shield found in Rembrandt's unidentified History Scene of 1626 (Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, Leiden) for various

paintings, including, for example, the Man Writing by an Easel (private collection) of about 1631 - 32. 20 The derivative relationship between Dou's Old Woman Reading (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), of the same period, and

Rembrandt's panel of the same subject (also in the Rijksmuseum) of 1631 is similarly familiar. 21 These works would seem to date from during or close to the period of Dou's apprenticeship in Rembrandt's Leiden workshop. Once both were well established in their careers, the apparently radical differences between the painterly practices of the two artists might even suggest anxiety on the part of each to avoid the territory of the other. Dou evidently learned from Rembrandt's practice, but I would surmise that in some respects he reacted against it, adding a sophistication of his own, and chose modes of address to the viewer purposefully the opposite of Rembrandt's: preciousness, close physical engagement and even manipulation, the obviously fictive embedded in the plausibly realistic, and, above all, modernity at the expense of history. By the mid-1640s Rembrandt in turn avoided comparison with his hugely successful student. Although many of his early works are small in scale and invite the viewer to draw close, once he left Leiden he steered clear of making physically intimate paintings. The course and effect of Rembrandt's early competition with his fellow Pieter Lastman student, Jan Lievens, has been much discussed, but the notion that Rembrandt might in part have defined his long -term practice in contradistinction to that of his first student, Gerrit Dou, has never, to my knowledge, been properly entertained. An examination of the Painter 118




with Pipe and Book and the Holy Family with Painted Frame and Curtain

suggests that each, in undermining and elaborating trompe l'oeil in his own peculiar and distinctive way, is likely to have learned from the other what each could and should not do. Rembrandt-if we accept his authorship of the Kassel painting-implicitly invites and deflects comparison with Dou by modifying trompe l' oeil to make the physical presence of paint unavoidably apparent, and to maintain a strict separation between the worlds of the viewer, of the frame, rod, and curtain, and of the painting-within-the-painting. Dou invites the viewer to elide those distinctions by means of the fall oflight, the near suppression of the frame, the depiction rather than the execution of trompe l'oeil, and the miniaturization of painterly facture. Both artists undermine, or elaborate upon trompe l'oeil in their own unique manner, each of which can be thought of as in part a reaction to the work of the other. Good teachers must be prepared for their students to excel them: smart teachers learn not to invite direct comparison with their more brilliant students. Contrary to received opinion, in some respects Dou exceeded Rembrandt in intellectual sophistication and painterly practice. Each had to learn to live with the consequences of the success of the other, and both - in part-would seem to have adapted accordingly.


Works Do Not Make an Oeuvre路 Rembrandt's Self-Portraits as a Category

Charles Ford

The categories we use shape and organize the world we see. Sometimes we think more like idealists, sometimes more like empiricists . We are sure that there is something "out there," but we are puzzled as to how we can come to know it objectively. We struggle to imagine the world beyond the schema of language and culture that have shaped us and that imprison our capacity to see and experience the world directly. In history we have the added problem of referring with categorical terms (such as "Rembrandt" or "self-portrait") to entities and objects in the past; b ut the past by definition does not exist and can have no co ntent. What survives into the present is th e thing (the work), what sets the work in the past is the historical category (the oeuvre). If we lived in the world of empirical science th en of course works would

indeed make oeuvres; but we do not, and they do not. Works do not make an oeuvre. Works and oeuvres are different things. Works can be claimed to be objective things in the world, in the present: as objects with dimensions and mass, as commodities with a historical origin and a value in the market. But an oeuvre is a meta-work, a category, it is formed entirely within conventions, within culture, within language and therefore within history. And this goes for all our art historical categories: any particular genre painting is a different kind of thing from the category "genre painting ." and any particular portrait is a different kind of thing from "portraiture." Perversely, an oeuvre or any other kind of category succeeds as an 74

ideological artifact, as an instrument of explan ation, precisely as long as it

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait, 1659.

succeeds in appearing to be a thing as objective as the works it catego-

Oil on canvas. National

rizes. And, as the preface to the first volume of the Rembrandt Research

Galle r y of Art,Wash ington.

Proj ect argues, it is ultimately the oeuvre (the Rembrandt Research

And rewW. Mellon Collection.

Project's construction of the category "Rembrandt") that permits the work 121


to enter the oeuvre. 1 Indeed, art historians can even study the traces left by past oeuvres-the exhibition "Rembrandt Creates Rembrandt: Art and Ambition in Leiden, 1629-1631" at the Is abella Stewart Gardner Museum is one example of such an enterprise. This is an old philosophical problem. But it introduces the idea that there is a dynamic relation, a dialectic, between the individual objects that we use to constitute the historical career of an artist and that artist as a historical and cultural construction. To decide on the precedence of the one over the other is less to solve a problem than to announce your own interest, prejudice, or blindness-or to declare your place in history. Rembrandt's self-portraits have only slowly emerged into our field of vision. During the period of Rembrandt's life, and for a century or so after, they attracted no special mention and were rarely referred to. There were a few collections of artist's self-portraits, but no major vogue for self-portraiture that could explain their production in such bulk by Rembrandt. 2 There was an increase in what has been called "ego-documentation" during the period, but Rembrandt's self-portraits do not fit into the typologies of philosophical questioning, self-absorbed gossip, or confessional morbid ity that characterize the bulk of the literary manifestations of this genre. 3 Nor does any such vogue explain their production in such bulk by a num ber of other seventeenth-century Dutch artists such as Gerrit Dou, Jan Steen, and Frans van Mieris; van Mieris produced an even higher proportion of self-portrait images in his painted works than Rembrandt. 4 Indeed we would have to extend aspects of the self-portrait category even further if Celeste Brusati is right and autographic presence is anxiously signified in every touch of the brush in painters' works. 5 All we can say is that there was no developed discussion of Rembrandt's self-portraits as objects and certainly no discussion of the self-portraits as a set during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Rembrandt was sometimes recognized in the pictures, 6 but the self-portraits were not given any special or qualifying role in accounts of his life. Moreover, Rembrandt's very high production of self-portraits was not noted as a special characteristic (but then, neither were those of van Mieris-although with Dou the case may be different) . This despite a great deal of interest in what kind of person he was, no doubt encouraged by the thriving commerce in his prints. 7 It is undeni able, however, that Rembrandt's emergence as a celebrity in the Romantic and Victorian periods was significantly inflected by the identification of his face in the self-portraits, which came to sta nd for a special kind of artistic self-consciousness. By the beginning of the twentieth century the self-portraits were identified as not so much a set as a series. Their new visibility becomes stubbornly present after 1900 in response to questions about selfhood and individuality that characterize the modern period. 122



Rembrandt's self-portraiture is a very reductive category of objects that represents, or disguises, a very diverse range of picture-making activities. His face features in a number of history paintings, there are the "self-portrait" paintings proper, and there are numerous graphic works. The selfportraits in graphic media are more likely to represent Rembrandt in everyday clothes and situations, the self-portrait paintings more often present us with a figure from an exotic past. The genre categories sit very uncomfortably across the media divisions in Rembrandt's works, however much the concept of an oeuvre might synthesize them into an elaborate fiction of intention and precedence. For example, the painted landscapes are almost a different category from the landscapes in graphic media. Very few of Rembrandt's drawings are precisely related to his paintings-at least, not in the way that drawings relate to finished paintings in conventional workshop practice. During the Leiden period there are distinct overlappings of graphic and painted subject matter, not least in the self-portraits: the puzzled or grimacing faces of the prints peer out of self-standing self-portraits and history paintings alike. In his later career such overlappings do not occur so strikingly. But in appropriating all these images, all these works, as examples of the oeuvre/category "seJfportrait," we do them some violence and suppress important differences. In doing this we disguise their historical identities as past commodities. Not least, though it will not be discussed here, we disguise the bundle of historical social relations the commodity represents behind the fetish of our construct "Rembrandt," and the explanatory and validating construct "self-portrait. " Jacob Rosenberg's 1948 Rembrandt is a heroic piece of modernist writing where this disguising reaches heights of unsurpassed elegance and sophistication. 8 Rosenberg's Rembrandt is granted what Claude LeviStrauss called "this supposed totalizing continuity of the self." 9 He is rendered as a fully real person/oeuvre who can accommodate all the works, and the self-portraits are a key part of the documentation of that totali zing continuity. The self-portraits were read chronologically as a series of leaves from Rembrandt's professional and personal journals, sites of unconscious autobiography articulating the process of growth, maturity, and decay in a universal narrative that, when bound together, produced the master text of his life: the oeuvre. Exactly why Rembrandt might have produced them, and for whom, was scarcely considered. That he owned none when he was assessed for bankruptcy was not considered odd. In 1989 Lyckle de Vries published an essay in the Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek in which he deconstructed the category "Rembrandt self-por-

Lrait."10 He dissolved the pictures of Rembrandt into a category he called "single-figure narratives." "Single-figure narratives," de Vries pointed 123


out, descended from two parallel traditions. The first tradition (using a term emergent in art historical writing during the 1980s, though less used since) he identified as the Herauslosung image, Herauslosung meaning "abstraction." This word had been used by Christian Ti.impel to describe those characteristically Rembrandtian pictures, such as Bathshebas, Floras, and Prodigals, which are represented independently of the elaborate narrative settings that traditionally fixed them. 11 Figures abstracted, therefore, or removed from their original place. The second tradition he described were one-off character pictures-usually emblematic or symbolic personages (folly, pride, sloth). These figures had never had specific narrative settings, though they might have been folded into compositions as choric types, and were recognizable by attributes, gestures, and expressions. All of these pictures would pass under the name tronies in seventeenth-century Dutch-tronie meaning face. Tronie was also a word used to describe portraits. It could be argued that all recognizable representations that "get by" with less than exhaustive situating reference are to a greater or lesser degree

Herauslosung, and that single-figure compositions are one formally identifiable group within that wide-embracing category. Anything typical, or ideal, or essential that figured or referred to a story elsewhere would fit, leaving a very difficult to define division between the character studies and the individuals from narratives. De Vries gets round this problem by using examples that appear to be exactly in the center of their kind - character faces by the sixteenth-century Antwerp painter Frans Floris-as examples of the second kind. However, when we consider that such faces were painted to be used by Floris's students in the design of figures in history paintings, 12 we realize that they are also Herauslosung (our first kind), only

Herauslosung in reverse, images designed to play an as yet undetermined role in the narration of stories. The figures bring the time and situation of a narrative with them - just as (when it is recognized) the self-portrait inserted into a history brings a particularity of the moment of production into the narrative. By placing Rembrandt's self-portraits in the category tronie or "singlefigure narrative" de Vries raised a radical and uncompromising challenge to the usual account. Suddenly Rembrandt could not be the subject of his self-portraits, or if he was, that subjecthood was at the least ambiguous. But for all de Vries's convincing formal arguments, one extremely important leap of faith had to be made - to be tronies as de Vries asserted, the self-portraits had to be unidentifiable. When recognized as pictures of Rembrandt they shifted firmly into a particular category, or oeuvre. De Vries brought no convincing evidence to prove their unidentifiability; he imagined that a frisson of recognition might sometimes have played a role 124


in their contemporary viewing, but he could not imagine that this recognition exhausted the meaning of the picture. What he did prove was that the definition of a self-portrait had to include the contextual condition of recognizability. Recognizability had to be the preponderant, the most important meaning for contemporary spectators. De Vries was responding to a development in Dutch art historiography of the 1980s that had tended to reinforce the category of self-portrait, using it to explain Rembrandt, and then using that Rembrandt to reinforce the category of the self-portrait. Hans-Joachim Raupp had written a book on Renaissance self-portraiture that defined it as a self-conscious category, having an identifiable iconography and culture of cross-reference; a sort of discursive field. 13 Svetlana Alpers's bold re-imagining of Rembrandt enabled us to read the self-portraits as part of a wider branding exercise that placed him in an advantageous market position. 14 Perry Chapman (in a chapter in the same volume as de Vries's paper and later in a book) argued that the iconography of the self-portraits should be read as an ongoing and profoundly philosophical act of artistic self-definition (along the lines laid out by Raupp and reinforced by the example of neo-historicist literary studies, notably Stephen Greenblatt's conception of the "performance of self"). 15 Quite independently of all this, I gave a seminar paper in response to Raupp and Alpers in the late eighties in which I concluded that "selfportrait" was a false category. I argued that of the pictures so described a few might be read as Rauppian essays on the artist, that some were "character" pictures (or tronies), that some were subject pictures, and that any of them might have been sold as instant ancestors, or decorative images, for the Amsterdam nouveaux riches. Seventeenth-century spectators could be remarkably slack about the meanings of pictures: Rembrandt's Aristotle was identified by Guercino as a physiognomist within a few years of arriving in Sicily.16 We could imagine the self-portraits opening up to dozens of possible meanings. Some of the pictures recognizable as Rembrandt shared the Rauppian iconography with pictures of other people (Rembrandt's "father," for example). If Raupp's iconographic set was not specific to portraits of artists, to self-portraits of Rembrandt, then it was troublesome to use it to explain the pictures as "self-portraits." The numerous studio copies raise a problem for our understanding of the historical meaning of these images . Copies are by definition not self-portraits. The extraordinary number of copies suggests that the "self-portrait" was principally a successful commodity, whether or not it was ever a learned exploration of selfhood. "Self-portraits" make up nearly twenty percent of the Rembrandt Research Project's Rembrandts; even as a proportion of autograph works they constitute one of the 125


largest categories (the number can be increased by adding other pictures of Rembrandt in histories). It is worth considering just how celebrated Rembrandt's variously disguised face would have been before the age of photographically illustrated catalogues. How many of the pictures would have been recognized as being of him, and who would that recognizing spectatorship have been? And even if recognized individually, they could not have been a "set" before the age of the illustrated catalogue raisonne. The numerous self-portrait presences in histories needed to be placed within the quite separate tradition(s) to which they belonged. That was as far as my paper got. When I came across de Vries's paper I left my own aside: De Vries had made the main points with better historical and philosophical arguments. Portraiture is a deeply problematic category to employ in relation topictures of people in the seventeenth-century Netherlands. There were half a dozen words for what we now call a portrait, and at least three basic conceptual implications lying behind those words. Afbeeld simply meaning "picture of," tronie meaning "head" or "face" (the thing itself), and konterfeit (in contemporary English, "counterfeit"), meaning "illusory presence"

with strong overtones of deception. The loanword portret (from French) only entered Dutch at the end of the century where it came to mean what we usually mean by about 1725. Not only the terminology, but the pictures themselves, indicate that portraiture was a very uncertain category. Rembrandt's portrait production typically shows us that formulae for portraits were constantly being invented, involving numerous forms of encounter for a contemporary spectator. The teleological perspective of the twenty-first century encounter collapses all these differences into the reductive category "portrait." This would be a pity if, to think in Alpers's terms, the characteristic inventiveness of his formats constituted a large part of the added value of a Rembrandt portrait over the work of any other portraitist. The category "self-portrait" is produced by and sustains theories of "Rembrandt" that shape our encounter with Rembrandt, the historical figure we imagine as "out there" in the past. The preoccupation with such categories obscures and sentimentalizes the complexity and untidiness of past artistic production manifest in works. Such categories seem mischievously to disguise any imagined conditions of historical production under the drapery of fictions. The title of the Gardner Museum's exhibition, "Rembrandt creates Rembrandt," emphasized the mythic status of the entity "Rembrandt" by putting the second instance of the name into italics. On the one hand Rembrandt's Rembrandt was a work . But on the other hand Rembrandt, our explanation of the maker of that work, is an oeuvre. Or maybe he was the just first creator of that oeuvre (Rembrandt 126



in italics) that the exhibition tried to recreate in an act of faithful imitation. This will turn into a game of infinite recession unless we accept that, as stated at the beginning, this is a dialectic between knowledge of the past as reified in historical objects, and knowledge as the system within which that knowledge is structured. The answer is: no chickens no eggs, no eggs no chickens. Which of them came first is the wrong question. The Gardner Museum 's exhibition was about Rembrandt's emergence into manhood and mastery in his craft, a time in his life when he not only settled upon a number of characteristic compositional typologies and tropes, but also designed his own name and contrived many of the pieces of that persona (artistic and other) he would perform throughout his adult life. In these things he cannot be very different from any of us, surely -what could be more natural? We all know that we are complicated, various, divergent beings and we all aspire to some kind of wholeness or integrity, and we all know that we will never get there because there will never be the time, the money, the right haircut, the right job. And so we all assemble a workable fiction, and if we are sufficiently socialized we tolerate others doing the same. But we should know the problems consequent on thinking that we are "discovering" or "recognizing" these natural things in an historical figure. The signs are more likely to be evidence of our reading (phenomena of the oeuvre), than evidences of meaning (phenomena of the work). But then we are trapped. The only way of looking at the past is teleologically. The first, and enabling, fiction for the practice of history is "the past."


A Business Partner and a Pupil: Two Conjectural Essays on Rembrandt's Entourage

John Michael Montias

" ous n'irons plus au bois, Les lauriers sont coupes," goes the French nursery song. At various times during the last 130 years, A. B. de Vries, Nicolaas de Roever, Abraham Bredius, Isabella van Eeghen, and S. A. C. Dudok van Heel, to cite only the most persistent and su ccessful longtime researchers, have combed the archives for contemporary mentions of Rembrandt and other famous seventeenth-century Dutch artists. The harvest has now been gathered, and the chances of finding any more documents specifically mentioning Rembrandt or any of his distinguished contemporaries are slim. 1 Yet there are lots more laurels left uncut in these archival woods. But, in order to exploit the available material successfully, research strategies must be adapted to cope with the near exhaustion of documents bearing prestigious names. Turning the folios of notarial acts at random is unlikely to be effective. Given a set of relevant questions (about the life of an artist, his oeuvre, or his milieu), a better approach is to begin with a complete list of available, relevant documents and to use these reference points as springboards for the investigation. All the information available in an archive on any name cited in one of these documents, including the witnesses to notarial acts,2 needs to be carefully studied for the light they may shed on the documents themselves and, more generally, on the investigation at hand. All available wills and postmortem inventories of the individuals belonging to an artist's milieu should be mined for any relevant information they may contain, including the names of the family members who may have been portrayed. 3 By accumulating data about the individuals with ties to targeted artists (family members, clients, patrons, business acquaintances, creditors), the researcher may be able to build bridges between and among the islands of knowledge that are already in his compass. In developing his hypotheses, however, he may have to be satisfied <

D etail of fig. 78.

with strong circumstantial evidence in the absence of documents specifi129



cally citing the names and facts that would give incontrovertible proof to his conjectures. 4 In the present paper, I propose to apply this elementary methodology to shed light on some aspects of the business dealings and the workshop of Rembrandt. The documents I analyze were gathered as side-products of my systematic search on the lives and circumstances of the two thousandodd buyers at Orphan Chamber (weeskamer) auctions held in Amsterdam between 1597 and 1638. 5 These essays reach conclusions on the basis of circumstantial evidence. All the individuals I focus on were buyers at Orphan Chamber auctions . First, I consider Marten van den Broeck, who is known to have sold five paintings by Rembrandt in exchange for ship's equipment. I describe a series of events in van den Broeck's career that may be interpreted to suggest that Rembrandt participated in his business ventures and that his losses at sea contributed to Rembrandt's financial difficulties. Jacob van der Swalme, alias Swalmius, my second buyer, was a witness to the testament of Rembrandt and his wife Saskia van Uylenburgh. He was almost certainly the nephew of the preacher Eleazer Swalmius, who was portrayed by Rembrandt in the mid-1630s. Again, it is on the basis of circumstantial evidence that I shall try to show that he was a pupil of Rembrandt, probably in the years 1635 to 1638. For the sake of including him in the record, I also cite the case of Guilliaem van Neurenburgh who lodged with Swalmius in 1637. He was certainly personally acquainted with Rembrandt, and there is some chance that he, too, may have been a Rembrandt pupil. In each of these cases, I adduce archival documents illustrating the life and circumstances of these men and their families . Finally, in the last section, I analyze the purchases of prints at two auctions b y Rembrandt, Swalmius, van Neurenburgh, and some other men in Rembrandt's entourage to ascertain whether they colluded to hold down prices . Marte n van de n Broeck

When Rembrandt, in July 1656, applied to the High Court in The Hague for permission to assign his remaining assets to his creditors to obtain relief from their demands (cessio bonorum), he cited as the reason for his financial difficulties "losses suffered in business, as well as damages and losses at sea ." 6 These alleged "losses at sea" have generally been ignored in the Rembrandt literature, presumably because they could not be con nected with any known facts in the artist's life. 7 In this section, I develop a conjecture regarding the putative participation of Rembrandt in Marten van den Broeck's ill-fated shipping ventures and the ensuing losses that both men suffered. 130




Marten van den Broeck, regardless of any direct connection with Rembrandt, holds an important place in the study of the artist's patron age because he owned five pa intings by Rembrandt in 1647, including the first self-portrait that h as been found in any contemporary inventor y. Th e inventory drawn up after his bankruptcy in September 1650 (see Table 1) contained many paintings, all without attribution, some of which, I will argue, were works that may have been by Rembrandt or, more likely, have come out of his atelier. Born around the turn of the seventeenth century, Marten van den Broeck was the son of Gregorius van den Broeck I and of Cath arina Soolmans. His mother was th e sister oflsaack Soolman s, who bought prints by Diirer along with Rembrandt in the Gommer Spranger sale of 1638 (see Table 3). Soon after Isaack's son, Marten Soolmans II, born in 1615, married Oopje Coppit in 1634, the couple had their portraits painted by Rembrandt. Marten van den Broeck's own known purchases at auction were limited to the Jan Basse sale of 10 March 1637, where he bought 18 lots for a total of 42 guilders 12 stuivers .8 Besides a certain taste for works on paper, there is little we can infer about his collecting (or his art dealing) proclivities from these modest purchases. Marten van den Broeck's primary occupation was that of a merchant dealing in silk cloth. On 25 June 1643, two dyers testified concerning a dispute they had had with van den Broeck over the quality of the work they had done in dyeing 55 pounds of silk cloth that he had entrusted to them. 9 On 14 February 1645, he signed a contract with Abrah am Fonseca, a Portuguese Jewish merchant, according to the terms of which van den Broeck would deliver to Fonseca eight bolts of white saaijen (a type of woolen cloth) a week for the next six years . Fonseca undertook to buy

saaijen from nobody else. 1째Fonseca was 38 years old at the time, a few years younger than Marten van den Broeck. 11 Two years later, on 28 March 1647, van den Broeck signed another con tract that was much less routine than the one he had entered into with Fonseca. 12 This time h e undertook to deliver to Sr. Andries Ackersloot various diamonds, mounted and uncounted, 13 a silver cup on a silver foot, som e pearls, cloth, and some valuable paintings in exchange for ship's equipment (fine rope, twenty-seven masts now reposing on Bicker's Island, iron bars, and poles). The ship's equipment that Ackersloot was to s upply exceeded the considerabl e sum of 8,000 guilders. The counterpart in diamonds, silver, and paintings was presumably equal in value. The paintings were these: a large landscape representing the mountain of Mons ante in Granada; 14 an old tronie dated 1493; an Ascension of the Virgin; a lute player b y Ter Burg (prob ably Hendrick ter Brugghen); a por131


trait of the priest Jan Sebetino, very fine ("heel raar"); a portrait of the wife of Rembrandt; a portrait of Rembrandt; Abraham with the three angels by Rembrandt; the wet nurse ("minnemoer") of Rembrandt; a brothel, judged to be by Sotte Cleef (Cornelis van Cleve); an Italian landscape; a marine by Porcellis; a woman at the well (the Samaritan Woman), judged to be by Lucas van Leyden; a landscape by Rembrandt; a little Chinese painting where the Migool (Mughal) goes hunting ("ter jacht gaet"); a woman's

tronie, very fine, judged to be by (Anthony) Mor or Holbein; a man's portrait, very fine, judged to be by Dirck Barendsz; a large landscape by Esaias vanden Velde; a woman's tronie by Jan Lievenssen; a man's tronie, very fine, judged to be by Kay (Willem or Adriaen Key); an Italian Flora; a small tronie, judged to be by Kay; a woman who heats diapers ("die warmt luijeren"), very fine, judged to be by Alberduijr (Durer); an image of Maria by Hans Sibbelbeen (probably Hans Sebald Beham); a Jeronimus (Saint Jerome), very fine; a Prodigal Son by Frans Hals;15 a man with an armor, Italian; a Venus by Goltijus (Goltzius); a

ativity ("karsnacht"), judged to

be Italian; a tronie by Anthony Mor; a painting where Pan is skinned alive; a Virgin Mary, judged to be by Jacques de Backer; a Nativity by Badens; all of which had been seen and inspected by Sr. Ackersloot. In addition, Ackersloot had seen and accepted some cloth, 250 pounds of" coleur" (dyes?), 20 ells in length of felt, and five dozen rubies. 16 I will say something about the paintings that van den Broeck had undertaken to deliver when I come to analyze the works of art in his insolvent inventory of 1650. Andries Ackersloot (or Akers loot) can most probably be identified as the son of the Haarlem burgemeester Auwel Akersloot and of Anna de Wit. 11 He and his wife Dorothea Steijn were related to some of the richest and most prominent citizens in Haarlem. A 1651 document refers to a loan of 45,000 guilders that Dorothea's mother, Cornelia van der Meijden, had made to her son-in-law Andries Akersloot, at some unknown date (probably no earlier than 1645).18 This large sum of money may have been used, at least in part, to finance the transaction with Marten van den Broeck . Ackersloot died between 1670, when he was still occupying a minor post in the Haarlem municipality, and March 1672 when Dorothea Steijn was cited as his widow. Apparently the couple had not prospered. In 1679, the aldermen of Haarlem sold eleven houses that had belonged to the repudiated estate of the late Dorothea Steijn, widow of heer Andries Ackersloot, the former secretary of the town of Haarlem.19 So far, it has not been possible to trace the paintings acquired b y Ackersloot, either in a testament or in a probate inventory. More research in the Haarlem archives may reveal what happened to this extraordinary collection. But, returning to our 1647 transaction, why should a silk cloth merchant ever want to exchange very valuable paintings and other precious objects 132



for ship's equipment? The answer seems to be that van den Broeck was in the business of freighting (or possibly equipping or repairing) ships with his old partner Abraham Fonseca. 20 We learn from a document dated 4 May 1649 that van den Broeck and Fonseca were joint owners of the ship de Vergulde Pauw (the Gilded Peacock), which had foundered off the coast of Barbados. According to this act, the two partners gave the skipper of de Vergulde Pauw a procuration to sail on their behalf from Hoorn to the Barbados and there take command of the ship (which had apparently been repaired) and bring it back to Amsterdam. 21 On 11 November of the same year, van den Broeck notified ("insinuated") the insurers of de Vergulde Pauw that he and his partner had not been compensated

for their loss, which included 37, 100 pounds of tobacco. The story of the Barbados affair stretched into 1650. On 28 January of that year, a witness declared that the governor of Barbados had stated that the price of tobacco was 3 stuivers a pound on credit and 2 stuivers a pound in cash. This declaration of course related to the loss of the tobacco. 22 On 29 April, van den Broeck submitted insurance policies that he had drawn for 9,300 guilders on the ship de Vergulde Pauw, together with 4,200 gui lders on the cargo and 6,600 guilders on another ship, de Witte Leeuw. 23 Whether the ships were properly insured or not, the partners apparently failed to recover their money. Van den Broeck was still afloat, financially speaking, on 22 January 1650, when he and the notary J . van der Ven, before whom he had pa:ssed a number of acts in previous years, bought a piece of land on Staten Island. 24 Whether it was the loss of tobacco on the Barbados coast, the purchase of the land on Staten Island, or some other venture, van den Broeck had lost a great deal of money by the fall of 1650, enough to become insolvent. An inventory of his possessions was taken for the Desolate Boedelskamer (Chamber of Insolvent Estates) on 6 September 1650 (listed in Table 1). The works of art in this inventory will be discussed along with those that van den Broeck traded for ship's equipment with Ackersloot. Van den Broeck apparently did not ask for cessio bonorum from the High Court in The Hague, probably because his mother, Catharina Soolmans, the widow of Gregorius van den Broeck, came to his rescue. 25 On 16 October 1651, she appeared before the notary, assisted by her oldest son, Marten van den Broeck, and declared that she owed Pieter Mol 2,000 guilders. (Pieter Mo!, born in 1614, was a sworn proefmeester of the College of the Admiralty of Amsterdam. 26 ) As collateral for the loan, she had transferred to Mol 112 paintings . This money had probably been lent to her son to pay his creditors. 21 On 18 April 1652, she declared that she desisted from the claim of 12,000 guilders that she held against her son Marten van den Broeck.28 Three weeks earlier, Marten had transferred to Sijmon Barckman 133




and Jan de Wale (Wael), an important merchant, a cargason of merchandise that had been sent to Barbados for 11,855 guilders, together with any claims that he might have had against Christoffel Voerman, the recipient of t his merchandise. 29 It is very probable that, with the help of his moth er, van den Broeck was able to satisfy his creditors. In any case, he did not live long enough to recover his fortunes. He was buried a year later, "in his own grave," on 28 October 1653. 30 The works of art that van den Broeck had exchanged against ship's equipment in 1647 might well have come out of an artist's or a dealer's stock (or both). There were no identified family portraits, such as one generally finds in private inventories. Most of the portraits that it did contain dated back to the fi~eenth and sixteenth centuries (one dated 1493, two attributed to "Kay," one to Mor or Holbein). The only contemporary portraits were those by Lievens and Rembrandt. In addition to the old portraits, there was a genre painting attributed to Albrecht Di.irer, a brothel scene by Sotte Cleef (Cornelis van Cleve), a Woman at the Well by Lucas van Leyden, and an image of the Virgin Mary by Hans Sibbelbeen (probably Hans Sebald Beham), which all dated back to the first half of the sixteenth century. The paintings by Dirck Barendsz and Jacques de Backer were also at least a half century old. Unusual too for a private collection of the first half of the seventeenth century were the Italian paintings: the landscape, the Flora, the man with an armor, the Nativity, all said to be Italian but left unattributed. 31 The emphasis on old master paintings reminds one of Rembrandt's bankruptcy inventory of 1656, the paintings in which consisted "chiefly of deceased Dutch and Flemish masters" and of Rembrandt's well-known interest in the art of Lucas van Leyden, Hans Holbein, Albrecht Diirer, Jan Porcellis, and Jan Lievens. 32 Another extraordinary feature of this precious little collection consisted of the five paintings by Rembrandt and the one by Jan Lievens. Ernst van de Wetering has recently argued that the presence in the inventory of the self-portrait by Rembrandt, the portrait of his wife, and the portrait of the wet nurse implies that these paintings had been produced by Rembrandt for the market. 33 This is certainly possible, although one might also argue that Rembrandt had painted them for himself or for his workshop and had been forced by financial necessity to sell them. Even more importantly, the presence of these three portraits suggests that Marten van den Broeck, if he acquired the paintings himself, was closely acquainted with Rembrandt. 34 I doubt whether anyone but a close acquaintance would have recognized the wet nurse, or perhaps even Rembrandt's wife, as a member of the artist's household . (A person less familiar with Rembrandt might have called the portrait of the wet nurse "een minnemoer van Rembrandt" and the portrait of his wife "een vrouwen tronie van Rembrandt.") 134


DT ' S E


75 Rembrandt,An Indian Prince, ca. 1656- 58. Pen in graybrown ink on tinted paper. Graphische Sammlung Albertina,Vienna. Benesch 1192.

An unattributed painting among the works of art exchanged with Andries Ackersloot may also point to Rembrandt's previous ownership. This is the little painting of a "Mongol going hunting." 35 Rembrandt is known to have made co pies after Mughal miniatures (fig. 75). One album of miniatures that were perhaps Mughal turned up in his 1656 post-bankruptcy inventory. 36 However, none of the twenty-one Rembrandt copies after Mughal miniatures that have survived represents a "Mughal going hunting. " Pauline Lunsingh Scheurleer in her important article on Rembrandt's copies after Mughal miniatures suggests that there may have been lost copies and illustrates her article with a miniature of a Mughal prince on horseback with a retinue, which may very well correspond to the subj ect depicted in the van den Broek-Ackersloot exchange. 37 If so, Rembrandt may have copied this miniature or one like it as an aide-memoire before he sold it. This would put a new complexion on Rembrandt's decision to copy exotica of this type. 135


76 Remb randt, Saint Peter in

Prison, 163 I . O il on wood . Israel Museum .Je rusalem .

It is with these hypotheses in mind that I will now analyze the inventory of Marten van den Broeck prepared for the Desolate Boedelskamer. The 1650 inventory consisted of 64 lots containing 72 works of art, including 64 paintings . It appears to have been at least in part a dealer's or an artist's stock, perhaps what was left of van den Broeck's stock after he had exchanged the best pictures for ship's equipment in 1647. One obvious parallel with the 1647 transaction was the absence of family portraits in the insolvent inventory. Another was the unusual incidence of paintings that were very old. 38 Characteristic of an artist's stock (and of some dealers' stocks) was the repetition of subjects. In the inventory were three paintings of Mars and Venus and four tronies of old men. Another characteristic of an artist's or dealer's stock was the relatively high incidence in the 1650 inventory of paintings and drawings without frames (there were six of the former and one of th e latter). 39 The back room (achtercamer) seemed to have been a repository of the less expensive paintings in the stock. It contained a total of 26 paintings (over 40 percent of the total 136


number of paintings in the inventor y). This h igh con centration of paintings in a back room, compared to th e other r ooms, wo uld be extremely unus ual in a private co llection. 40 Of the 26 paintings in th e back room, 5 were without frames: 11 represented tronies, including one of Christ ("tronitie uytbeeldende de gedaante Christi"). 41 The old men's tronies as well as the figure of Christ were typical subjects for Rembrandt and his pupils. 42 One painting in the back room deserves special mention. It represented "an old man down on one knee" ("een oud vader op syn knie liggende"). 43 This is likely to have been a copy of Rembrandt's Saint Peter

in Prison (fig. 76). In Rembrandt's painting, the saint Jeans conspicuous ly on one knee. This painting, as Schama has observed, is so bare of accessories-the only hint that the old man might represent Saint Peter is a set of keys lying next to him-that the clerk who drew up van den Broeck's insolvent inventory may easily have missed the identification. 44 The sequence of events I have described leads me to advance the fo ll owing series of conjectures. Van den Broeck had been engaged in overseas trade for a number of years when Rembra ndt, perhaps because he was already pressed by the difficulty of financing the p urchase of his house on the Breestraat, ceded a number of paintings to him in exchange for a share in his shipping ventures. Van den Broeck exchanged some of the best paintings he had acquired from Rembrandt (and possibly from other sources) for ship's equipment in 1647. Two or three years later, two of his ships were lost. Pressed by his creditors, van den Broeck was declared insolvent. The inventory of his possessions made for the Desolate Boedelskamer in 1650 included some of th e unsold works of art that h e had obtained earlier from Rembrandt. The "losses at sea" that Rembrandt suffered contributed to his mounting financial difficulties, w hich culminated in his bankruptcy of 1656.45 J ac ob van d e r Swalm e (Swalmius) and Guilliaem van N e ur e nburgh

Only twenty Rembrandt pupils are known from contemporary documents with any degree of certainly. In addition, there were seven painters mentioned by Houbraken as having been Rembrandt pupils who were not cited as such in contemporary documents. 46 This total of twenty-seven artists about whom it may be said with some confidence that they were Rembrandt pupils were presumably a small fraction of the "almost innumerable children of distinguished families" who, according to Joachim von Sandrart, paid 100 guilders per year-apparently without benefit of board or lodging-for the privilege of taking lessons from the great master. 47 Other possible pupils are identified on affinities of style with Rembrandt or on ambiguous contemporary references. Some of those known only from their works may have studied with Rembrandt only a 137






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short time to learn his way of painting. 48 To the list of known and conjectured students, I wish to add Jacob van der Swalme, alias Swalmius, although no paintings by him are known to have survived and only one reference exists to his being a painter at all. We first encounter this putative pupil on 17 November 1635, when he witnessed the testament of Rembrandt van Rijn and Saskia van Uylenburgh in Rembrandt's house. The clerk called him Jacob van der Swalme, but he signed neatly, on the same line as Rembrandt, "Jacob Swalmus." 49 Witnesses to wills, other than notaries' clerks, who signed last wills in the house of the testators, were often friends or close acquaintances who could be trusted to keep the terms of the will confidential. 50 He called himself Jacob Swalmius when he bought eight lots at the Jan Basse auction of 1637: seven lots of prints, one of drawings, and a "little book." When he bought one of these lots, he was identified by the clerk of the Orphan 138




Chamber as "Jacob Swalmius in de Molsstegh tot Schelde Dirricxsz," which probably means that he was lodging with the ivory carver (auction buyer and collector) Schelde (Schelte) Dirricxsz. 51 The Molsteeg was situated in the ninth wijk, near the Oudezijds Voorburgwal (not far from the present-day Centraal Station). It was within easy walking distance from the Vlooijenburch (in the eleventh wijk) where Rembrandt lived. Another buyer at the Basse auction who was living "tot Scheltes" at the very same time was named Guilliaem van Neurenburgh. He, too, may have been a pupil of Rembrandt, although the evidence in his case is even more tenuous than in Swalmius's. Both Swalmius and van Neurenburgh also bought at the Gommer Spranger sale of 1638. At that sale Swalmius, who by this time was said to be "tot Hondekote" (probably the painter Gillis de Hondecoeter),52 bought three lots of Durer prints. (In the appendix to this paper I discuss the pattern of purchases of both men at the Basse and Spranger sales.) Jacob van der Swalme (Swalmius) was almost certainly the son of Carel van der Swalme (1587 - 1640), commissioner of the convoys and licenses in IJzendijke and dijkgraaf of the Orange Polder in Zeeuws-Vlanderen, territory recovered from Spain. Carel was the brother of Henricus Swalmius (1577 -1649), a preacher (predikant) in Haarlem, portrayed by Frans Hals in 1639 (Detroit Institute of Arts); 53 of Eleazer Swalmius, predikant in Amsterdam, portrayed by Rembrandt in or around 1651

(fig . 77); 54 and of Arnold us Swalmius, predikant in 's Gravesande. 55 Carel is the only one of the four brothers who kept the family name van der Swalme. Jacob was born on 9

ovember 1614. There is no evidence that he ever

married. On 23 June 1645, he became baljuw (bailiff) of IJzendijke. 56 In 1656, he was collector of taxes ("ontfanger van de verpondinge") in Zeeuws-Vlanderen. An accounting which he signed "Jacob van der Swalme" in that capacity exhibits a handwriting that is sufficiently similar to the signature on Rembrandt's testament of 1635 to make the identifica tion highly probable. 57 He was sti11 alive in 1660 when an accounting was made of the estate of his uncle Henricus S walmi us after the death of Henricus's second wife Ifje Willems van Weert. It is barely possible that he is identical with the individual named Jakob van der Swaeleme who was buried in Amsterdam, coming from the Heiligeweg, in the Leidsche Kerkhof on 28 May 1671 .58 Jacob's uncle, Eleazer Swalmius, was born in Rhoon in 1582 and was ordained predikant in Poortugaal and Hoogvliet (near Rotterdam) in 1605. He sided with the Counter-Remonstrants in their bitter dispute with the 139



partisans of Arminius. 59 In 1612, he was named preacher in Schiedam. He remained in Schiedam for ten years although he was "lent out" to churches in The Hague (in 1617) and Utrecht (in 1619). He was called to Amsterdam in 1620, but because his parishioners in Schiedam refused to release him, he did not move to Amsterdam until 1622. 60 We shall see presently that the connections he made in Schiedam were an important part of his network of acquaintances. He married Eva Ruardi (or Ruardus or Ru ward us), the daughter of Ruardus Acronius (Vinning), born about 1579, in Schiedam on 16 September 1606. 61 He was buried in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam on 4 (?)June 1652. 62 Eleazer and Eva are known to have had the following children: Eva I, born in 1614, died young; Catharina, born in Poortugaal about 1615; and Helena (Hilletje) and Eva II, twins, baptized in Schiedam on 14 February 1618. 63 Eleazer's daughter Catharina (or Trijntje) was betrothed to Wilhelmus Dilburgh, born in Amsterdam about 1610, on 17 March 1645. She was living, most probably with her parents, on the Herengracht. She signed the betrothal act "Catharijna van der Swalmen ." When Catharina's and Wilhelmus's son Eleazer was baptized in the Oude Kerk on 17 May 1647, Hendrick Swalmius (Eleazer's brother Henricus, predikant in Haarlem) and Eva Ruardi were witnesses. 64 Wilhelmus Dilburgh was linked through his sister Sibilla to another predikant in Rembrandt's family circle. On 18 May 1638 Sibilla was

betrothed to Petrus Joannes Sylvius (1610-1653), the son of the predikant Jan Cornelis Sylvius (1564-1638). 65 One year previously, in a print dated 1637, Rembrandt had etched the portrait of Petrus Sylvius (fig. 78) .66 Portraits of his father Jan Cornelis Sylvius were twice etched by Rembrandt, once in 1633 and then, posthumously, in 1646 (Bartsch 266, 280). 67 Jan Cornelis Sylvius was the husband of Alida van Uylenburgh, the cousin of Rembrandt's wife Saskia. When the prenuptial contract of Petrus and Sibilla was signed on the day before the betrothal, the bridegroom was assisted by his father, Dominee Jan Cornelis Sylvius; Sibilla was assisted by her presumed brothers Wilhelmus and Johann Dilburgh . To add even more density to this Rembrandtesque milieu, Rombout Kemp, one of the two sergeants depicted in Rembrandt's Nightwatch, witnessed the ceremony. 68 Another of Eleazer's daughter's, Hilletje (Helena), was betrothed to Adriaen Banek from Schiedam, 23 years old, on 3 May 1641. 69 She was assisted by her father Eleazer Swalmius and her mother Eva Ruardi (Yffje Ruwardus). Jasper van Wallendael made an illegible declaration, which probably concerned the consent of one or more of Adriaen Banck's parents. 70 Jasper Wallendael, born circa 1589, was also from Schiedam. When 140



he had his son Nicolaes baptized on 10 September 1629, the witness of record was Joris Aertsz Banek, the father of Adriaen Banck. 71 Adriaen Banck's acquaintance with his future father-in-law Eleazer Swalmius must have dated from his childhood in Schiedam. When Adriaen was nine years old, his brothe r Cornelis was baptized in Schiedam's Hervormde Kerk in the presence of Dominee Swalmius, who, as the first witness named, is likely to have been the baby's godfather.72 Six months after her marriage to Adriaen Banek, Helena Swalmius was buried in Amsterdam's Oude Kerk (on 18 November 1641).73 Adriaen Banek, canvas dealer ("kanvashandelaar"), became a citizen of Amsterdam on 30 July 1642. 74 Banek remarried with Maria Boll from Haarlem (betrothal on 22 July 1649).75 The predikant Eleazer Swalmius died in January 1652. In 1655, his widow Eva Ruardi specified in h er t est ament that the portraits of herself, her husband, and a deceased daughter, probably p ainted b y Rembrandt, should be kept for h er grandson. 76 This grandson is presumed to have


'1 1>r1;,-11/-

78 Rembrandt, Portrait of Petrus

Sylvius, 1637. Etching. Museum het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam. Bartsch 268 (2nd state) .



been Johannes Dilburgh (Dilburch) who was baptized in Amsterdam on 8 February 1646. 77 In a second will, Eva Ruardi repeated this provision, specifying that the third portrait was that of Hilletje (the late wife of Adriaen Banck). 7BShe must have died shortly before 12 March 1659 when her postmortem inventory was taken. 79 The inventory was drawn up at the request of her two sons-in-law, Wilhelm us Dilburgh (Delburch) and Adriaen Banek, and the attorney Jacob de la Mijne, who, together with Cornelis Jansz Slooterdijck, were the executors of the late widow's testament.Bo There were ten portraits in the inventory, including three of the daughters: one ofTrijntje (Catharina) and two of Hilletje (Helen). The other identified portraits represented "grandparents and great-grandparents Swalmius."B1 The "grandparents Swalmius" were probably Eleazer and Eva. There were also six portraits of princes and princesses of the House of Orange. The most numerous category of paintings in the inventory, none of which was attributed, consisted of landscapes (18) . There were only two religious subjects (a Samaritan Woman and a Maria) . The portraits of Eleazer Swalmius, Eva Ruardi, and Hilletje Swalmius were indeed left to the grandson, Johannes Dilburgh, who became a doctor in medicine in Amsterdam, and also lived in Utrecht. In 1672, he stated in his testament that he was leaving all his goods to his wife (Anna Mom) except for "the three portraits by Rembrandt."B2 Johannes Dilburgh was buried in Utrecht on 12January1696. On 29May1702, his children, Johannes, Constantia, Eleasar Swalmius Dilburgh, and Dirck Dilburgh (the last two still of minor age), living in Utrecht, gave their mother Anna Mom power of attorney to collect some goods they had inherited from their greatgrandmother Eva Ruardi .B3 The Rembrandt portraits may have descended to one of these children. On 31 August 1660, the honorable Adriaen Banek, merchant in Amsterdam, sold a number of distinguished paintings to Adriaen Maen, a merchant in Schiedam .B4 Adriaen Maen was his brother-in-law, the husband of his sister Maria Joris Banck.B5 The sale may have been fictitiou s: it may just have been a way for Adriaen Banek to borrow money from Maen, who would be sure of repayment in case of his brother-in-law's death . One of the paintings ceded to Maen was a Susanna b y Rembrandt, sold for 560 guilders . In a deposition made a year earlier at the request of Louis Crayers, the guardian of Rembrandt's son Titus, Banek had declared that in 1647 he had purchased from Rembrandt a painting of Susanna for 500 guilders.86 This is presumably the same painting. The other two Rembrandt works were "my portrait" (f. 150) and a sketch of an unidentified subject (f. 30). After the three Rembrandts, the following paintings 142



were listed: two pieces by Munix being soldiers (f. 85), a piece by van der Swalmen of Lucretia (f. 85), a banquet piece by (Willem?) Heda (f. 50), and a piece by (Ferdinand) Bol of Paris (f. 70). The Lucretia by van der Swalmen was presumably by Jacob Swalmius. 87 The proximity of a piece by Bol, who entered Rembrandt's studio in 1636, is suggestive too. 88 There was also a large print of Eleazer Swalmius, which was probably the engraving by Jonas Suyderhoef inscribed "Rembrandt pinxit" (fig. 77). Besides these works of art, the collection was graced by a large hunting scene by Rubens (f. 300), two large landscapes by (Jacob?) Ruisdael (f. 130), and another piece by (Willem?) Heda (f. 30). I was not able to trace the fate of the collection either in Amsterdam or in Schiedam after this transfer. From these disparate pieces of information-the fact that Jacob Swalmius was recorded as a painter, that he was a wealthy buyer of art works, and that he belonged to the social circle of Rembrandt's clients and friends! tentatively conclude that he was a pupil of Rembrandt, one of these

"almost countless children of distinguished families" who contributed to Rembrandt's extraordinarily high income from teaching in the 1630s and the early 1640s. Some observations on Rembrandt and Reformed preachers

In the preparation of this paper, I became aware of the importance of Reformed predikanten among Rembrandt's contacts and in his milieu. In the literature on Rembrandt, much has been made of his relation with Remonstrants and Anabaptists (by Gary Schwartz in particular), perhaps because it was believed that Rembrandt was inclined toward one or both of these beliefs. 89 But the Counter-Remonstrant preachers that Rembrandt dealt with or who belonged to his circle have been neglected, with the exception of Schwartz's illuminating remarks on the English preacher Johannes Elison and on his sons .90 We have seen that Rembrandt etched the portrait of the orthodox preacher Jan Cornelis Sylvius, his cousin by marriage and the likely godfather of his son Rombertus in 1633 and 1638, and the portrait of his son Petrus in 1637 (fig. 78). Around 1637 or 1638, he painted the portrait of Eleazer Swalmius. We have also seen that Petrus Sylvius married the presumed sister of Eleazer's son-in-law Wilhelm us Dilburgh. Neither Eleazer Swalmius nor Petrus Sylvius is mentioned by Gary Schwartz or by Simon Schama. Volker Manuth, who does not cite Counter-Remonstrants in the list he provides of the religions of the individuals Rembrandt portrayed (moderate Calvinist-Remonstrants, Mennonites, Roman Catholics, and Jews), argues that "Rembrandt ... kept his distance from the Orthodox Calvinists."91 This assertion, which Manuth does not support with evidence, is perhaps in need of amendment for the first part of Rembrandt's career in Amsterdam. 143


To the four Counter-Remonstrant preachers who clearly belonged to Rernbrandt's milieu (Jan Cornelis Sylvius, Petrus Sylvius, Eleazer Swalmius, and Johannes Elison), I now add a more distant fifth. 92 On 14 March 1653, Rembrandt borrowed 4,200 guilders from the merchant Isaack van Hertsbeeck. 93 From that date on, van Hertsbeeck and Rembrandt are linked through many documents, mainly in the farmer's role as creditor of Rembrandt's insolvent estate. By the time Rembrandt received the loan, Isaack's sister Hester had been married for nearly twenty years to the staunch Counter-Remonstrant predikant Festus Hommius, who helped draft the resolutions of the great Dordrecht Synod of 1618.94 Fifteen months after the loan agreement was concluded, on 25 June 1654, Hendrickje Stoffels was summoned by the Church Council for committing whoredom with Rembrandt. Van Hertsbeeck may have been the last member of the Orthodox Calvinist party to do Rembrandt a favor. 95 Portrait commissions by members of this group were already long past. After Hendrickje's confrontation with the Church Council, Rembrandt could only expect ani mosity from that quarter. App e ndi x: Guilli ae m va n Ne ur e nburgh a nd th e Ba sse a nd Sprang e r a u c t io n s of 1637 a nd 16 38

The circumstantial evidence for justifying the suggestion that Guilliaem van

eurenburgh was also Rembrandt's pupil rests on the pattern of van

eurenburgh's purchases at auction and on the fact that, together with Jacob Swalmius, he lodged with the ivory carver Schelte Dirricxsz in the Molsteeg. 96 One difficulty with this hypothesis lies in determining whether the buyer at auction was the father or the son, both of whom went by the name of Willem or Guilliaem van Neurenburgh .97 Since the beginning of the sixteenth century the van Neurenburgh family had been well known as purveyors of natural stone (blaeu steen), chiefly for the construction of churches and other public edifices, in various parts of the Netherlands .98 At first these builder-contractors operated out of Maastricht and Namen (Namur), but by 1585, Coenraad van Neurenburgh III had settled in Dordrecht, where he and his family became members of the Reformed Walloon church (Waalse Kerk) . He died in 1608. At least two of his sons, Coenraad IV, born about 1571, and Willem II, born around 1575, followed him in the family trade. 99 By 1624, Willem II had become the full owner of his father's business. When "Guilliaem van Neurenburgh" first emerged as a buyer at an Orphan Chamber auction in March 1637, Willem II would have been about 62, surely too old to be a pupil of Rembrandt. 100 His last known delivery of stone - to the Hoogheemraadschap of Delft in 1640 - may have taken place shortly before his death . Bruijn and Huisman, the authors of the most complete article on the van 144

eurenburgh family, argue that Willem




II was the collector who bought at auction in Amsterdam in 1637 and 1638. 101 This, as I shall now show, is at least disputable. At some unknown date, Willem van Neurenburgh II married Anna Willemot. Their first son, named Joannes, was baptized on 24 February 1613. He had a fairly distinguished career as one of Dordrecht's regents, serving as a member of the city council from 1630 on and as an alderman in various years. On 24 July 1634, he married Elisabeth Trip, daughter of Jacob Trip and of Margaretha de Geer, who, late in life, were portrayed by Rembrandt ( ational Gallery, London). 102 Another son of Willem and Maria, named Coenraat (V), was baptized on 28 June 1615; a third, named Willem (III), on 13 October 1619. 103 The authors of the most extensive study abo ut the van Neurenburgh family inform us that nothing is known about this last-named son. The absence of any information about Willem III suggests that he may have died early, that he had moved away from Dordrecht, or both. I conjecture that Willem or Guilliaem van Neurenburgh III may have been the buyer at auction at the Basse auction of 1637, lodging, together with Jacob Swalmius, with Schelte Dirricxsz on the Molsteeg. He would have been 18 years old in 1637.104 By 1638, when the Spranger sale took place, he had moved out of Schelte Dirricxsz's hou se and was said to be lodging "next to the Lamb's brewery" on the Singe! (on the new side of Amsterdam). 105 Since Willem van


senior, who was quite well off, possessed a house on the Keizersgracht, 106 there would have been no reason for him to lodge with an ivory carver of modest means in 1637 and 1638. It seems more probable that his son Guilliaem was living with Schelte Dirricxsz. He may have bought prints at auction for his father or for his own account qua artist. I now turn to the two important sales, that of Jan Basse in March 1637 and that of Gommer Spranger in February 1638, at which Rembrandt, Jacob Swalmius, and Guilliaem van Neurenburgh all bought numerous lots. (Selected lots sold in these two sales are shown in Tables 2 and 3). The Basse sale took place in seventeen sessions stretching into as many days. Rembrandt was present and bought lots at the sessions of March 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, and 19; Swalmius, atthe sessions of March 13, 16, 18, 19, and 20; van

eurenburgh, at the sessions of March 10, 11, 14, 18, 19,

and 20. Isabella van Eeghen, in an important article devoted in part to these two sales, was the first to publish some notes that the auctioneer Daniel Jansz van Beuningen had jotted down in the back of the notebook containing the records of the sale. 107 These notes are only partly readable, but the inference she made from them seems correct. Under the name Smijters, the auctioneer had written:




[... ]ant van Remb. Guilliaem

eurenb. 3.18.-

1 dito-David ter Haer 5.1 dito Guiliaem Neurenb. 4.2 Samuel Smijters, a merchant and nephew of the well-known school teacher Anthonie Smijters, published translations of religious works (by Clement Marot, Theodore de Beze and Petrus Dathenius) and psalms (with musical accompaniment). He was a frequent buyer of prints at Orphan Chamber auctions, including of course the Basse sale. He must have been closely acquainted with Rembrandt, who etched his portrait (Bartsch 311). 108 It is possible that he was the surety for Rembrandt's purchases. David ter Haer was a jeweler who also frequently bought at auction. The inscription"( ... ]ant van Remb." probably refers to Rembrandt's account. Van Eeghen pointed out that Rembrandt bought prints for f. 3:18 (3 guilders 18 stuivers) on March 14, two little prints (printjes) for f. 5:0 on the same day, and "some volutes" (shells) (wat horens) for f. 4:2 on March 19. These are very likely to have been the three lots that Daniel van Beuningen was referring to in his notes. Did Rembrandt buy these lots on behalf of van Neurenburgh and ter Haer because they could not attend these particular sessions of the sale? In the case of van Neurenburgh, this possibility is excluded, seeing that he was present and bought lots on both March 14 and 19. 109 In the case ofter Haer, it cannot be excluded: he was indeed absent - or at least he did not buy any lots - on March 14.


theless, the most likely explanation, put forward by van Eeghen, is that Rembrandt ceded some lots to these two buyers and that the auctioneer Daniel van Beuningen was expected to collect the money due for the lots from them. Van Beuningen's notes at least establish a direct contact between Rembrandt and van


Gommer Spranger, whose postmortem sale took place in six sessions from 9 to 14 February 1638, was the nephew of the celebrated painter Bartholomeus Spranger (1546-1611). Gommer was a wealthy merchant born in Antwerp, who first went to work for an uncle in "Moscovy," then settled in Amsterdam in 1600. He was buried on 12 October 1637. 110 According to a deposition made by Gommer Spranger and two of his brothers ten years after the event, he had traveled to Prague in 1611, at the peril of his life, to settle the estate of his uncle Bartholomeus. He had brought back with him, from Prague to Amsterdam, numerous wood blocks and copper plates that had belonged to his uncle. In the probate inventory taken after Gommer Spranger's death, there was a case with four copper plates: "the dreamer," the " tas vloyster," "the cook" (all three by Durer), and "Sint Bartholomeus" (by Spranger). 111 The modern titles of Durer's engravings are The Dream of the Doctor, Unequal Lovers (fig. 79), 112 146



and The Cook and His Wife (Meder 1932, nos . 70, 77, 85). Various copper plates after Spranger were engraved b y Jan Harmensz Muller, the Amsterdam printmaker (also a buyer at auction). All these plates and many prints taken from them turned up at the auction of February 1638. I will concentrate on the Durer material which was the most abundant and expensive, at least in the total made at the auction. Twenty-eight Durer blocks and plates were sold at the Spranger auction, some with titles, some without. Of these, 21, consisting of woodcut blocks of the Life of the Virgin, were sold to the printmaker and dealer Cornelis Danckertsz for f. 13:15 a piece, for a total off. 288:15. After the sale of these blocks, 73 sets of the Life of the Virgin, presumably pulled from these same plates, were sold to 28 buyers (15 sets were sold for cash). The more important buyers included Rembrandt (9 sets), the painter Jan Looten (8 sets), the collector Isaack Soolmans (Sollemans) (7 sets), the painter and broker Hugo Voskuijl (4 sets), the collector Abraham Alewijn (3 sets), the calligrapher and presumed print dealer Hendrick Meurs (2 sets), and the art dealer Hendrick van Uylenburgh (2 sets). That artists who at least occasionally dealt in art works and full-time dealers should have bought multiple sets for sale requires no explanation. It is less clear why private collectors like Soolmans and Alewijn should have done so. (Since Soolmans bought 7 sets in a row at identical prices, the quality of the paper and of the printing can hardly have been an issue.) The only explanation that comes to mind is that they bought duplicates to exchange with other collectors or dealers. 113 Jacob Swalmius and Guilliaem van Neurenburgh each bought one set (at f. 1:18 and f. 1:19 respectively, prices virtually identical to those paid by Rembrandt). 114 Hugo Voskuijl and Abraham Alewijn both paid the highest price: f. 2:3 for a dozen. I go into these details because they are relevant to the issue of collusion raised by Isabella van Eeghen concerning the following plates ("The Cook," "The Dreamer," and "The tasvloyer" ) and the prints that were pulled from them. She argued that Rembrandt, Smijters, and van Neurenburgh must have "spoken over" these lots before the sale-that is, conspired not to bid against each other to keep prices low. 11 5 The first copper plate sold with an identifiable subject, "The Cook," was bought by Samuel Smijters for f. 21:0. Later in the sale, 8 dozen examples of the print were auctioned. Rembrandt took the first dozen for f. 2:0. Guilliaem van Neurenburgh and Jacob Swalmius both paid f. 2:2 for their dozen, Hendrick Meurs f. 2:1 per dozen (for two dozen), Abraham Alewijn and Hugo Voskuijl f. 2:3 for a dozen each. There is no evidence of collusion in this case, even though Rembrandt did buy his lot at a slightly lower price than the others. Next came the copper plate of "The Dreamer," 147



79 Albrecht Durer, Unequal

Lovers, ca. 1496. Engraving.

bought by van Neurenburgh for f. 18:0. Eight lots containing 12 prints of the same subject were sold to Rembrandt, Smijters, Pieter de la Tombe (print dealer), 116 Soolmans, van Uylenburgh, and Harmen Rendorp 117 at exactly f. 1:16 per lot. The exception was a lot of 12 bought by Abraham Alewijn for f. 3:0. It is quite possible in this case, as van Eeghen suggested, that the first successful bidder, Samuel Smijters, was offered six more lots of a dozen each at the same price off. 1:16, which he accepted and then resold to Rembrandt et al. at the same price. This would be rigg ing of the most innocuous kind, perhaps even admissible to the auction eer. The fact that Alewijn paid f. 3:0 for his dozen, which was nearly twice as much as the other seven buyers paid, does not necessarily imply that this was a rigged price. After all, he could have bought the first dozen at a price slightly in excess off. 1:16. The set he purchased may have been exceptional, perhaps printed on special paper. either van Neurenburgh nor Swalmius bought any prints from the "Dreamer" plate. In the case of the former, the explanation is obvious: why should he buy prints from a plate that was already in his possession? None of the other buyers of plates are known to have done so. But 148





Swalmius's absence among the successful bidders is more interesting. He seems always to have bought prints whenever his former housemate did so . In this case, he may have depended on his friend to give him or to sell him at a low price "pulls" from the plate in van Neurenburgh's possession. Finally, the copper plate of the " tasvloyer " (fig. 79) was sold to Samuel Smijters for f. 9:15. All sets sold at a later point in the sale consisted of one do zen prints of the plate, except for one consisting of eighteen prints . Hugo Voskuijl paid f. 2:1 for a do zen. Rembrandt paid only f. 1:10. Jacob Swalmius paid f. 1:16 for his set and Guilliaem van Neurenburgh f. 1:11 for his. Isaack Soolmans also paid f. 1:11 . The remaining lots, which all went to Hendrick Meurs, sold for f. 1:12, except for the set of eighteen prints, which sank to f. 1:2. I can see no collusion here, although I am intrigued that Rembrandt should again have been the lowest-price buyer. It is possible to conclude from this analysis that whenever lots attracted a small number of buyers (unlike The Life of the Virgin series, which was apparently quite popular), some mild degree of collusion is likely to have occurred among people who were well acquainted with each other, as Rembrandt, Pieter de la Tombe, Hendrick van Uylenburgh, and Samuel Smijters undoubtedly were. The fact that van Neurenburgh had bought two lots from Rembrandt at the Jan Basse sale in the previous year adds to the presumption that he too belonged to this inner circle, as did of course Jacob Swalmius .



Tables Table 1 Works of art in the insolvent inventor y of Marten van den Broeck of 6 September 1650 Voo rhuis:

A painting of Cleopatra with a plain frame A painting of Judith with the head ofHolofernes Three tronies with foo l's caps with black frames A painting of a philosopher with a book in his hand and a finger on his mouth A painting of a Maria image ("Maria beeltie") Another painting being a tronie with a gray vestment ("graeu cleet'') A painting where a woman stands and scours, with a can and a few dishes A painting being a fight wherein a peasant with a pitchfork with a black frame A small painting being a landscape with a black frame

In the inner room:

A painting being the storming of the heavens ("storming ven de heme!") with a black frame A painting of the Samaritan woman with a black frame A painting of Coridon sitting and playing with his cattle A painting being a Charity with a black frame A painting of Abraham's sacrifice

In th e little sael ("zaeltje"):

A painting with two naked persons one of them with his hand in the tree ("d' hant in de boom") A portrait of an old Holland tronie with a cap on ("clapmus aen ") A portrait of a Danish lady A painting of a nobleman ("joncker") and a lady ("dame") in a black and gi lded frame A painting of a woman representing Peace A painting representing Justice ("justititia") A painting representing Time

In the front room :

A painting of Mars and Venus with an ebony frame Another painting of Mars and Venus with a plain black frame A painting of Maria Magdalena with a black frame A painting of Orpheus with a black and gilded frame A painting of David and Abigail with her maids with a black frame A painting of luxury and poverty ("de weelde en de armoede") with a black frame



A painting of the awakening of Lazarus with a black frame A old man's tronie with a black frame A tronie on paper w ith out frame Two drawings being little ships ("scheepjens") w ith white pine frames An image of Maria on canvas, damaged, in an oak frame

Back room (achtercamer) : A o ld man's tronie bearing the date 1525 ("hebbende d'dat 1525") A painting with the Last Supper of Christ ('"t avontmael Christi") with a black frame A painting being a fire wherein a rider, painted dark ("doncker geschi ld ert") A portrait of a man writing wearing old-fashioned clothing ("hebbende een outwets habyt aen") A painting being a battle on horseback with an ebony frame A painting of a Turkish woman having a child on her arm with an ebony frame A large vase of flowers without frame A painting wherein a hunter in an ebony frame A painting of the

ativity ("de geboorte Christi") without frame

A tronie of a man with a flute in his hand An old man's tronie without frame A painting of an old man kneelin g ("out vader op syn knie liggende") A painting of a landscape and mountains with a few persons wherein a pillar, with a black and gilded fram e A man 's little tronie ("tronitie") without frame A tronie representing the figure of Christ ("de gedaente Christi") A painting being a viol player A round painting with a few persons, painted dark Two small paintings being little tronies of children in plain frames A small round painting with a man's tronie A painting of a boy playing a romm elspot A man 's tronie with a cap on ("clapmuts aen ") with a black frame A man's tronie with a black beard in an ebony frame An old man's tronie w ith out frame An image of Maria w ith a black frame A painting of the Wise Men coming from the East with an ebony frame

In the side room : A landscape with cliffs of Tobias A little tronie of a child of plaster A little statue of alabaster Three stone statues Two portraits of a man and woman A dead little child with an oak frame A painting being a Venus and Mars with an oak frame [Source: DBK 5072/ 355]




Table 2 Selected buyers at the Jan Basse sale , March 1637 Lot

Item purchased





uts. [a number of prints]


Guilleam van


in de Molstraet tot Scheltes 254









a number of prints


































Guilliem Neurenburch






2 art books (" konsLboecken")




a set of prints












a little book (probably illustrated)


Jacobus Swalmius in the Molsteeg h "tot Scheide Dierricx"


a set of prints


Jacobus Swalmius


a set of prints
















1 uts. [drawing]




a number of drawings


ibid .


a number of prints






Guilliam van Neurenb[ergh]




















ibid .




















Item purchased

























ibid .




a print of Rafael




two littl e prints




some white paper




a number of prinls











101 3

a number of prints


Jacobus Swalmiu s






ibid .


Gui lli aem Neurenburgh


1 empty art book ("constboeck")




1 empty book




a number of prints


Jacobus Swalmius


a few prints


Gui lli aem


uts. [a number of drawings)




some volutes (horen s) [or seashell s)




2 volutes


Gulliaem Neurenburgh


3 volutes




2 volutes




a few prints




[crossed out: Leendert Cornelisz. disciple of Rembrandt)' 1290

a number of drawings


Jacobus Swalmius


a cockleshell volute



("kockieltje horen")

[Note: The lot numbers have


a numb er of drawings






Gu illi am Neurenburgh


no. 138 a grisaille




two drawings


Leendert Cornelisz. di ciple

been added. In a couple of

or Rembrandt

cases (lots 1320 and 1323),


no. 5 by Aerlge [van Leyden)


Gui lli aem

the numb ers p laced after the


a few prints



lot numbers seem to corre-




Jacobus Swalmius

spond to the numbers in a


ditto [prints)


Gui lli aem Neurenburgh

catalogue of the sale, no


2 little heads ("hooftjes")



copies of which have sur-


a number or prinls












Table 3 Selected bu y ers at Gomm e r Spranger sale , 12 , 13 , and 14 Fe bruar y 1638 Lot


Pri ce

Buye r

(guilde rs)

12 February: 174

A book of proportions by


Michie] le Blon

Albor Duer 177

1 plate of Alborduer


Abra ham Alewijn


1 ditto


Cornelis Danckertsz.


1 ditto of the Trinity


Cornelis Danckertsz.


a plate of Alborduer


Abraham Alewijn


Life of the Virgin ("Vrou !even") 288.75

Cornelis Danckertsz.

of the purse fleecer ("tas vloijer")3


Samuel Smijters

a copper plate of Alborduer


Guljam Neurenburgh

woodcuts by Alborduer (21 plates)' 182


a copper plate of Alborduer

of the dreamer ("droomer")â&#x20AC;˘ next to the lamb brewery on the Singe! 184

a copper plate of Alborduer of the cook ("de koeck") 5


Samuel Smijters

13 February: 295

1 ditto [Life of the Virgin, by Diirer] 1.9

Jacob Swalmius


ibid .


Mr. Hendrick Meurs










6 dito [Life of the Virgin by Di.irer] 36 stuivers a piece




96 images of Mary


Hendrick van Uylenburgh


109 coats of arms




60 St. Francis ("Franciskes")


Pieter la Tombe


a passion by Alturff [Altdorfer]


Abraham Alewijn


220 Trinities


Cornelis Danckertsz.


140 Communions ("Avondt malen") 4.3

Mr. Hendrick Meurs


a number of diverse prints


Harmen Rendorp


12 cooks Alborduer










Hendrick Meurs




Jacob Swalmius








Mr. Hendrick Meurs












Abraham Alewijn




Hugo Voskuijl


12 purse fleecers


Hugo Voskuijl




Jacobus Swalmius






Hendrick Meurs












Hendrick Meurs


18 ditto


Jan Looten


12 ditto


Isaack Sollemans



opt Water in de Lievrou 324

12 dreamers by Alborduer


Samuel Smijters








Pieter de la Tombe




Isaack Soolmans




Pieter de la Tombe




Hendrick Uylenburgh




Abraham Alewijn


2 lifes of the Virgin


Jan de Raedt


1 ditto


Harmen Rendorp


12 dreamers


Harmen Rendorp

14 February: 334

a print by Rembrandt


Guilliaem Nieurenburch




David ter Haer






[End of sale] [Note: The lot numbers have been added. Source: WK 5073/962.]

Notes 1 This lot was probably paid for in cash by Leendert Cornelisz van Beyeren shortly after the sale. 2 Probably the series of prints of the Life of the Virgin by Di.irer. 3 Christopher Wood and Egbert Haverkamp Begemann independently identified this copper plate as Unequal Lovers (Meder 1932, no. 77), which shows a you ng woman reaching into the purse of an older man. The suggestion is very plausible ~eethetextabov~.

4 Probably the Dream of the Doctor, otherwise known as the Temptation of the Idler by Diirer (Meder 1932, no. 70). 5 Probably The Cook and His Wife by Di.irer (Meder 1932, no. 85).





Appendix Notes on selected buyers at the Basse and Spranger sales Abraham Alewijn (1607 - 1679) Cloth merchant; an important co ll ector, whose wealth was assessed at 400,000 guilders in 1674. The poet Jan Vos praised the works of art in the zaal of Alewijn's house [van der Veen 1999, p. 141).

Cornelis Danckertsz II (d. 1656) Engraver and print dealer, nephew of the architect and land s urveyor Cornelis Danckertsz I.

David Ler Haer (1606 -ca. 1643) Goldsmith and diamond merchant. He paid a tax of25 guilders in 1631, corresponding to an assessed wealth of 5,000 guilders.

Jan Looten (b. 1618) Landscape painter influenced by Jacob van Ruisdael. He paid a tax of 30 guilders in 1631, corresponding to a wealth assessment of6,000 guilders.

Hendrick Meurs (1604-ca. 1640) Schoolmaster, calligrapher, and probably print dealer. After his death, his widow, Judith Cotermans, appeared before the Orphan Chamber and declared that her ch ildren with Hendrick Meurs were entitled to 4,000 guilders ror their father's inheritance [WK 5073/789, 3 August 1640).

Jan de Raedt Brother-in-law of the important collector Gommer Spranger, at whose sale he bought some lots. Aher the death of Spranger, he became the guardian of his chi ldren in 1640. He paid a tax of 300 guilders in 1631, corresponding to an assessed wealth of 60,000 guilders.

Harmen Rendorp (dejonge) When he bought a lot at the Spranger sale, he was said to be "k necht ten huis ". He may have been a merchant apprentice in Spranger's business. His father, Harmen Rendorp de oude (d. 1625), a merchant by occupation, was a devoted Remonstrant.

Samuel Sm ijters (d. 1644) Book seller and, probably, print dealer. He paid a tax of 15 guilders, corresponding Lo an assessed wealth of 3,000 guilders. In the estate of Clement de Jong he (1679), there was a portrait etching by Rembrandt of Samuel Smijters, which can no longer be id entified with certainty.






Isaack Sollemans (Soolmans) (1586 -after 1646) Clolh merchant. He paid a Lax of75 guilders in 1631, corresponding to an assessed weallh of 15,000 guilders . His son Marten, who married Oopje Cop pit, was portrayed by Rembrandt in 1634.

Pieter de la Tombe (1593 - 1677) Book seller and print dealer. Portrayed by Rembrandt, "both in his younger and his olden clays." Owned a painting of the Samaritan Woman in common wilh Rembrandt.

Hendrick van Uylenb urgh (1589 - 1660) An art dealer closely connecled wilh Rembrandt, who lived in his house and pain Led for him when he firsl arrived in Amslerdam in 1631 or 1632. He was the uncle or Saskia van Uylenburgh whom Rembrandt m arried in 1635.

Hugo (Huijch) Voskuijl (1593-1665) Painter and, later in life, broker ("maeckelaer"). He was probably a pupil of Pieter Isaacksz. He signed the Remonstrant petition of 1628.


Rembrandt's Declaration of Bankruptcy

Paul Crenshaw

Following a highly successful early career, Rembrandt's wealth dwindled and his patronage base grew slender, even as his international fame spread. By the summer of 1656, the artist's personal finances had deteriorated to such an extent that he was left with few alternatives. He was heavily indebted to several merchants, including some close acquaintances and one of the most powerful politicians in Amsterdam, and he had pledged all of his possessions several times over as collateral. To relieve his predicament Rembrandt applied for cessio bonorum-literally, "surrender of goods" -a type of insolvency whereby he ceded control of his assets, which were to be sold by the local municipal authorities in order to repay his creditors, who in turn could have no further claim on him. To this end, the artist's household effects and immense art collection were inventoried by a representative of a city agency called the Desolate Boedelskamer, or Chamber of Insolvent Estates, and then were sold along with the house itself over the course of the following two years. Rembrandt's poor management of his finances magnified other difficulties that he had with family, paramours, friends, neighbors, and patrons. Together, his economic and social exigencies affected his living and working environment, his public reputation, and his art. This paper touches briefly on several general aspects of the artist's financial problems, in addition to relating some of the biographical details that led up to his bankruptcy proceedings. The central question is one that has never been sufficiently clarified by scholars: why did Rembra ndt declare bankruptcy at the precise moment that he did, in July of 1656? Rembrandt's financial difficulties began almost immediately when he signed a contract to buy a comfortable townhouse (fig. 80) on Amsterdam's Sint Antonisbreestraat in 1639 for 13,000 guilders. 1 He was forced to <

Detail of fig. 83.

scramble to meet the initial payment deadlines, hurrying to complete old 159


80 Re mb ra ndt's house t o day (Mu se um het Rem bra ndthu is), Amsterda m.


= ••• •• •• •• • •••

•• •• ••• •• I


commissions and requesting special considerations to facilitate quick payments. He also sold his share of his mother's estate at considerably less than its value in order to obtain cash up front. 2 In 1647, Rembrandt's worth was appraised at more than 40,000 guilders, which would seem to have been plenty for him to pay off the house and live comfortably.3 However, at least three-quarters of that sum was made up by the house and its furnishings, including Rembrandt's collection of art, antiques, curios, medals, and marine plants. The Italian writer Filippo Baldinucci claimed in 1686 that Rembrandt's art purchases, including an outlandish scheme to buy back his own prints from all over Europe in order to increase their rarity, were the cause of his bankruptcy. 4 While there is ample evidence, from other writers and 160




from auction records, to demonstrate that Rembrandt sometimes spent lavishly at public auctions, it is impossible to corroborate Baldinucci's specific claim about the Amsterdam artist buying back his own prints.5 It seems that the author exaggerated what he knew about Rembrandt's

spending habits in order to justify the extraordinary news of the bankruptcy, abo ut which he added, "one rarely hears of happening to an artist. " The Italian certainly was unaware of all the facts, since he mentioned none of the problems that befell Rembrandt with his house. How could he have known, when even some of the artist's creditors in Amsterdam seem to have been caught unaware of the extent of Rembrandt's debts? Most troubling about Rembrandt's art purchases are not the sums that he paid or the amount of goods that he bought, but the fact that he continued to buy objects even when his financial situation clearly did not warrant it. Collecting art and curiosities was a compulsion for Rembrandt. The type of spending leading to such an imbalance is in many ways typical of a nouveau riche merchant. The artist purchased a house beyond his means, and he filled it with more objects than he could sensibly afford. He did not spend his money on secure, reliable investments that would ensure a continued income. Rembrandt engaged in at least two very speculative enterprises, including a tontine in the 1630s and, more important here, a failed investment in a ship with a merchant named Marten van den Broeck in the late 1640s, which caused van den Broeck to declare bankruptcy soon thereafter. 6 Rembrandt's production and income seem to have declined steadily through the 1640s, a period of prosperity for the Dutch economy as a whole . A dearth of portrait commissions for the artist in this decade accompanied-and contributed to-a decline in his network of upwardly mobile social contacts. Moreover, by this point in Rembrandt's career, a number of his former students had established themselves as excellent masters in Amsterdam, resulting in a glut of Rembrandtesque work on the market. It apparently became easy to find a high-quality painting in the Rembrandt manner without putting up with the expense, the idiosyncrasies, and the challenging personality of the master himself. Gary Schwartz and Svetlana Alpers have most forcefully characterized Rembrandt's relationship to his market.7 These two studies stand on opposite ends of an ideological spectrum. Gary Schwartz brought to a wider audience the wealth of material on Rembrandt's life and milieu that h ad been the domain of archivists and specialists for several decades . Schwartz's method w as similar in many respects to that of archivist S. A. C. Dudak van Heel - a serendipitous linking of members of 161


Rembrandt's milieu on the basis of familial and documentary connections. Schwartz's goal to strip the romantic aura of genius and place the artist squarely in his social realm met with mixed reviews. On the one hand, he was successful in clarifying the connections among Rembrandt's relatives, friends, associates, and clients. His emphasis on the artist's place within a social network set a new standard for subsequent scholars; even if one disagrees with individual substantive matters, Schwartz's assertions regarding the artist's reliance on familial ties among his patrons can no longer be ignored. On the other hand, Schwartz emphasized these connections so heavily that the artist was regrettably disempowered, uncredited for his own efforts to identify and reach the various market audiences that the author himself had so painstakingly described. Schwartz even went to great lengths to deny the artist's input into the subject and facture of many pictures. Quite different were the ideas of Svetlana Alpers, whose Rembrandt was a man totally in control of his products, his studio, and his market. Alpers pictured the artist as a despot, lording over his family, his students, and even his clients. She presented Rembrandt as an insistent self-stylist, constantly endeavoring to differentiate his individual - and identifiablemanner of painting. The polemical extremes of Schwartz and Alpers are not mutually exclusive, however. It seems that Rembrandt's efforts to assert his autonomy created the social and economic tensions that caused his bankruptcy. As I see it, Rembrandt mediated between the expectations of his public clientele and his own artistic aims . He commanded an autonomy that few artists of his day enjoyed, as Alpers suggested, and yet he was not exempt from the constrictions and requirements of a structured society, as made clear by Schwartz. Rembrandt's aims, decisions, and actions were all defined by the options open within his cultural milieu, and each decision that he made in the creation and distribution of his work had material consequences. Such negotiations were continually in flux, dependent on the desires, expectations, and demands of the artist and his patrons, markets, or society at large. The methodological approach brought to bear on the subject of Rembrandt and his market needs to be flexible enough to allow for this variety of circumstances. Rembrandt's own style became increasingly individualized, perhaps to "reinvent himself" - to use a phrase current in our own time-or to keep his own work fresh in the face of the market profusion. A characterization arose from those who knew Rembrandt (that was expanded by later writers), labeling him as a nonconformist, and as tastes shifted Rembrandt's competitors in the markets of history painting and portraiture adapted to new internationally oriented fashions while Rembrandt expected his patrons to cater to him. 162


t;-....... ..



.1 路l








It is misleading to say that Rembrandt worked mainly for an "open"

Rem bran dt, View of Saxenburg,

market. He probably had a good sense of the types of people he could

Bloemendaal (''The Goldweigher's

expect to buy his work. Most of his clients were scholars, preachers,

Field"), 165 1. Etchi ng. Bri t ish

craftsmen, and other small businessmen, especially in his later years when

Museum, Lon do n. Bart sc h 234.

he increasingly appealed to connoisseurs of art, particularly in his printmaking. Rembrandt dealt his work directly from the studio, he utilized agents and middle men, and he sold objects by auction. He sometimes offered paintings "on spec." Reasonable conjecture shows that he also made more than a handful of works as gifts for friends and associates to whom he was obligated for one reason or another. 8 In his years of financial difficulty a large amount of his production must have been reserved for his creditors, but even in the most dire circumstances the artist resisted relinquishing control over his production. He never allowed his creditors to determine the subject of his paintings or the pace at which he should work; he refused to indenture himself, as some other artists did in times of financial distress. 9 The range of outlets employed by Rembrandt allowed him a large degree of autonomy, but it also left him with only a small cluster of genuine supporters when times got rough. After 1649, Rembrandt made no more payments on his home, protracting a debt more than half the original purchase price.1掳 Christoffel Thijs, the man who had sold Rembrandt his house, was very patient. Rembrandt placated Thijs with artworks, such as an etching representing Thijs's country estate outside Haarlem (fig. 81), and with agreements to make further works that in the end Rembrandt never completed. 11 In the very first week of 1653 Thijs's patience expired, and he demanded full payment from the artist. 12 Several factors led Thijs to this ultimatum. First, the Dutch Republic had been drawn into a war with England that wreaked havoc on international trade, the economic base of Amsterdam, and in times of war everyone 163


hoarded money and called in their outstanding debts . Second, Thijs wanted no part of the mounting maintenance costs for the house . Since this part of Amsterdam had been reclaimed from a swampy marsh, many of the houses needed occasional "raising," literally lifting the foundation to level the floors and straighten the walls. Rembrandt's next-door neighbor (to the right as you face the house) had begun such a project, which meant that the artist's house also had to undergo the renovation since they shared a common wall. 13 Rembrandt had a dispute with the neighbor, Daniel Pinto, about who was supposed to pay for the materials and labor, and when Pinto could not squeeze any money from Rembrandt, he proba bly tried to get it from Christoffel Thijs, who still possessed the deed to Rembrandt's house. Thijs thus insisted that Rembrandt immediately pay the remaining 7,000 guilders, plus interest. From the testimony about the dispute by carpenters and masons, we know that the construction, which lasted nearly the whole year, was incredibly noisy and intrusive, and Rembrandt painted very little that year, further diminishing his income. With the combination of the problems with the house and the state of the economy during the war, which depressed the market for luxury goods and left a record number of bankruptcies in its wake, Rembrandt suddenly found himself in a desperate situation. 14 In order to pay Thijs and keep his house, Rembrandt borrowed a large amount of money from three people, promising to repay each loan in one year and offering his goods as collateral. The first was Cornelis Witsen, a man who had no previous documentary connection to Rembrandt, but who was not far removed from the artist's milieu. 15 Witsen was a powerful military officer who was elected burgemeester just days after he loaned Rembrandt 4,000 guilders on 29 January 1653. Witsen was also a collector of art, but in general he was the sort of ambitious man who commissioned militia banquets and corporation pieces to trumpet his own public standing. 16 Another man who came to Rembrandt's aid was a merchant named Isaack van Hertsbeeck, a figure who has drawn little scrutiny from scholars. 17 As it turns out, van Hertsbeeck had earlier and later familial connections to several of Rembrandt's other clients. His motivation for loaning Rembrandt money may simply have been the rather high interest rate he was charging and the prospect of recouping his investment in a year's time. The third was Jan Six, who loaned Rembrandt 1,000 guilders. 18 These two men had a long prior association. Although we do not know if Rembrandt had actually pledged to repay Six within a year, this was the pattern with his other loans from Witsen and van Hertsbeeck. Rembrandt's stunning, broadly painted portrait of Six from 1654 (fig. 82) was probably a gift to 164



apologize for not being able to pay Six back after one year. It seems unlikely that the 1654 portrait was actually commissioned by Six. If it had been, one would think that he would have simply reduced Rembrandt's debt by about half (an amount which would be in accordance with the artist's customary charge for such a painting). Since there was no reduction in the amount of the obligation, as we know from later documents, one can assume that the painting was initiated under different circumstances and for a different purpose, such as a gift or a generous thank-you to his younger friend. The broad, seemingly quick manner of execution may have appealed to the sitter's sensitivity to demonstrations of painterly skill and to the concepts of grace and sprezzatura which could be associated with a deft hand, but one must also account for the fact that Rembrandt probably could not afford to invest a huge amount ohime in such a large picture for which he may not have been paid. If indeed the portrait was not commissioned, Rembrandt was free to paint it in whatever style he wanted, without concern for the predictable complaints of lack of finish. It is often stated that Six and Rembrandt had a falling out in these years,

but that is not entirely accurate . The later history of the artist's relationship to Six is defined by two factors: Rembrandt's personal troubles with the illegitimate pregnancy of Hendrickje Stoffels, and Six's personal growth as a gentleman regent. When Rembrandt's wife Saskia van Uylenburgh died in 1642, she left Rembrandt with a young son, Titus. As was customary, Saskia's half of their joint estate went to the child, but since he was underage Rembrandt maintained full control over their assets. Also common was the stipulation that, should Rembrandt remarry at any point, Titus would be given his legacy immediately. Rembrandt subsequently took up with a woman of low station named Geertje Dircx, who had possibly entered his household as a wet nurse for Titus. When she and Rembrandt parted ways in 1649, there was a less than amicable settlement.19 She had hocked some of Saskia's jewelry that the artist had given her, and he gave her money to recover it and to support herself. She wanted more, however, and sued him for breach of marriage contract. This was the first of several public scandals for the artist. The court decided in favor of Geertje, but provided her with only slightly more money than Rembrandt had offered previously. She seems to have continued to slander him publicly, and he, along with members of her family, had her detained in a work house in Gouda in 1650. We'll return to her story below. In the meantime, Rembrandt found another companion, also a household servant, Hendrickje Stoffels. In 1654 Hendrickje became pregnant and was called before her church council to account for it. 20 Premarital preg165


82 Rembrandt, Portrait

ofJan Six,

1654. Oil on canvas. Six Collection, Amsterdam.




r-c---~-- -,

\,,..._ -

-- ,,. _ • " I

/1 -

nancy was not all that uncommon in Amsterdam, but it almost always

83 Remb ran dt, Portrait


- - -- -··

ofJan Six,

resulted in a marriage. 21 In Rembrandt's case, however, he could not do

ca. 1647. Etching. Ri jksmuse um,

the proper thing, since his hands were tied by Saskia's will. His estate

Amsterdam. Bartsch 285

had dwindled, and he could no longer provide Titus his proper legacy.

(4th state).

Hendrickje was subsequently condemned by the church, branded as a whore, and excommunicated. Rembrandt escaped the punish ment because he was not a member of the Reformed Church, but surely it was

84 Re m bra ndt, Portrait


a public stain on him as well . Several of Rembrandt's paintings from 1654

Tholincx, 1656. Etching. Bri t ish

use Hendrickje as model: the Flora in New York, the Woman Bathing in

Museum , London . Bartsch 284.

London, which likely represents the theme of Callisto hiding her pregnancy, and the Bathsheba in Paris .22 Rembrandt seems to have empathized with his companion's predicament and decided to incorporate h er features in representing historical and mythological themes of pregnancy and abundance. The two latter, in particular, represent women who found themselves compromised and dishonored by unfortunate conjugal circumstances. What does this have to do with Jan Six? Six was a young dilettante who abandoned his family's lucrative textile-dyeing business in order to write poetry (fig. 83). He settled down in 1655, marrying Margaretha Tulp, the daughter of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, whose anatomy lesson (Mauritshuis, The Hague) Rembrandt had painted decades earlier. 23 The elder Tulp by this time had ascended to the rank of burgemeester, and was the most 167


cons ervative politician in Amsterdam. Even though Six's fam ily was


wealthy, this marriage presented a keen elevation in prestige for him.

Rembrandt, Portrait ofAbraham

When he was re-elected burgemeester the next year, Tulp opened doors

Francen, ca. 1656-58. Etching.

for his son-in-law, and Six took his first public office as a commissioner of

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

marital affairs. Consequently, Six was most likely forced by circumstances

Bartsch 273 (2nd state).

to avoid public association with Rembrandt, not because of the artist's financial straits, but because Six had an office to uphold and Rembrandt was an extra-connubial reprobate. Even though Six was closing his own door on Rembrandt, he was apparently opening others. In 1656, the year of his bankruptcy, Rembrandt received commissions for two small portraits from the surgeon Arnout Tholincx (fig. 84), who was also married to a daughter of Tulp, and thus Six's brother-in-law. No one has ever pointed out, though, that Tholincx may have had his own personal reasons for aiding the artist in his time of financial turmoil. The etched portrait of Tholincx may have been made to commemorate the doctor's revived career in public office when he, like Six, took an appointment on the town council. Significantly older than Six, Tholincx had not held public office since 1644, when his first cousin Diederick Tholincx went bankrupt and was dismissed from the Amsterdam 168



council. 24 Arnout Tholincx understood on a personal level the public condemnation that accompanied bankruptcy, and seems to have tried to help Rembrandt as best he could . In the course of 1655 Rembrandt's finances worsened and tensions mounted between him and Saskia's family, who were concerned abo ut Titus's legacy, and between the artist and his creditors. 25 At the end of the year, Rembrandt rented space at the Keizerskroon Inn to hold an auction. 26 We do not know what he sold at this time, and in fact this may have been a regular means that he employed to sell his work. 27 Around the same time, Rembrandt entered into an agreement with a man named Otto van Kattenborch to purchase a new house, smaller and less expensive than the one on the Breestraat, which he would then presumably sell to pay off his debts. Part of the agreement called for Rembrandt to make a portrait print of van Kattenborch, to be etched "from life, as good as his portrait of Mr. Jan Six." 28 The portrait representing Abraham Francen (fig. 85), another supporter of Rembrandt, may have begun as the portrait called for in the contract with van Kattenborch. 29 However, for unknown reasons the deal for the house fell through. It is possible that van Kattenborch was disappointed with the print, which hardly matches the finish of the Six portrait, but more likely the arrangement fell apart because Rembrandt was unable to sell his old house. By the beginning of May, the customary moving time in Amsterdam, Rembrandt's plan to escape his primary encumbrance was no longer viable. Meanwhile, Geertje Dircx had been released from the Gouda house of correction where she had been confined for nearly five years, and Rembrandt knew that he was supposed to resume paying her two hundred guilders a year in alimony. Geertje had depositions taken in May 1656, a prelude to legal action .30 Even though the money Rembrandt owed to Geertje was minuscule compared to his other debts, he knew that an official ruling had already been made on this matter. One cannot be certain of the artist's mindset at this moment. It is possible that his only concern was the money. On the other hand, it is not unlikely that he was worried that another court battle would bring to light the details of Geertje's incarceration, further injuring his public reputation. This may have been the last straw that forced him to declare bankruptcy. On 17 May 1656, one month prior to his app lication for cessio bonorum, the artist embarked on a course of action that was meant to elude his creditors in a manner that, while technically legal, was entirely unethical. 31 Rembrandt went to the Orphans Chamber (weeskamer) and transferred the deed of the house to Titus in fulfillment of Saskia's legacy. 32 Rembrandt 169


was not obligated to turn over anything to Titus at this time, since Titus was not yet of age and Rembrandt had not remarried. Rembrandt's goal was transparent: he did not want the house seized by his creditors and he thought it would be protected if it officially belonged to his son instead. The artist must have known by this point that a declaration of bankruptcy was inevitable. Rembrandt was assisted at the Orphans Chamber b y the receiver of goods, Pieter Haringh, whom Rembrandt portrayed in an etching around this time (fig. 86), and by Louis Crayers, the lawyer for the weeskamer who would represent Titus for the next nine years. Crayers had done this sort of thing before with other clients. 33 Rembrandt's case was a high profile one, however, and it seems to have prompted official action. A new law came into effect in Amsterdam on 31July1656, just two weeks after Rembrandt was granted cessio bonorum. 34

ew regulations prevented

citizens from doing exactly what Rembrandt had done - bring goods to the Orphans Chamber prior to declaring bankruptcy in order to elude creditors. Rembrandt's case caused a legal battle between the Orphans Chamber and the Insolvency Chamber. The case went to the highest court in Holland, and eventually, in 1665, a large sum of money was returned to Titus at the expense of Isaack van Hertsbeeck, who was left completely empty-handed.35

86 Remb ra ndt, Portrait of Pieter

Haringh, ca. 1656. Etch ing. The Metropolitan Museu m of Art, N ew Yo r k. Bartsch 275 ( Ist state).



Following Rembrandt's application for cessio bonorum, his goods were inventoried in preparation for sale. 36 He probably felt that his house would be spared, but it was not. Early in 1658, Cornelis Witsen, Rembrandt's most powerful creditor, was elected burgemeester for the second time . He promptly demanded his money from the Insolvency Chamber, and he was paid even though there was not enough money in Rembrandt's account to cover this debt of 4,000 guilders. The very next day, Rembrandt's house was sold at auction. 37 Rembrandt and his family were forced to move to a new house in the outskirts of Amsterdam. He still had outstanding debts that the bankruptcy sales had not satisfied, and in order to protect him further, Hendrickje and Titus formed a corporation to sell art, hiring Rembrandt as a consultant.38 They claimed that they had given him 1, 750 guilders in exchange for his services, but it is clear that this was Rembrandt's own money, most likely income from the mid-1650s that he had hoarded rather than using it to repay his debts . Rembrandt acted in his own interest at nearly every critical juncture, but truthfully, only the most selfless among us would do otherwise. Declaring bankruptcy was just another of the many decisions that Rembrandt came to because it was his best available option. The artist's problems stemmed from much more than an inability to properly evaluate assets and contain expenses . The roots of his predicament lay deep in a tension between his artistic goals and the expectations of his society. In virtually every aspect of his conduct, including his artistic production, his responses to criticism, and his approach to money, Rembrandt was a staunch individualist. Rembrandt's purchase of a house that he could not afford, his neglect of debts, his continuous acquisitions of art, and his contentious relationships with patrons all point to a man who was focused solely on his art with little concern for life's social obligations . He cared more about maintaining the integrity of his product to his own satisfaction than standards of convention and decorum, or pleasing his patrons. When Rembrandt did m ake an effort to give something in return to those who helped him, he did so understandably with pictures. Far more often, however, he left his creditors with nothing. Bankruptcy for Rembrandt was not a devastating blow; it really was a saving grace. Perhaps it is even proper to call it an escape. His conduct was in part reprehensible in relation to societal conventions. His art hardly suffered - in fa ct most would say it flourished because through all the turmoil of bankruptcy he tenaciously maintained his supreme autonomy over his artistic endeavors .


The Gift Among Friends : Rembrandt's Art in the Network of His Patronal and Social Relations

Michael Zell

The study of art and the market in seventeenth-century Holland has largely revolved around the opposition between patronage and the open, anonymous market. 1 The careers of certain exceptional artists, to be sure, have been shown to have unfolded in the spaces between these two polarities: the Leiden fijnschilders Gerrit Dou and his pupil Frans van Mieris the Elder entered into arrangements with individuals who paid them an annual fee for the privilege of first refusal or for their highly finished paintings, thus circumventing both the dependency of producing art on command and the uncertainties of attracting buyers for their stock in trade. 2 Vermeer also may have discovered a protector on the market in Pieter Claesz van Ruijven, who collected many of his paintings. 3 Samuel van Hoogstraten, moreover, traded on the prestige of a gold medallion and chain he had received from the Emperor Ferdinand III in Vienna in 1651, imbuing his trompe l'oeil still-life paintings with a distinctive aura on the marketplace. 4 But for Rembrandt the opposition between patronage and the market has remained, to a degree, intact: Gary Schwartz's account portrays him essentially as a failed painter for patrons, including the stadhouder and the Amsterdam patriciate;5 Svetlana Alpers glorifies him as a genius-entrepreneur of the market, who, through the assertive display of his authorial mark in late self-portraits like that in Kenwood House (fig . 87), laid claim to proprietorship of his art and independence in the marketplace. 6 T h e Gift : A Sy mb o li c Eco n o m y

To ease the competition between the models of patronage and marketplace, I propose to examine a form of exchange of artworks that has yet to receive the attention I believe it deserves for clarifying the dynamics of the Dutch art market and its social characteristics: gift giving, a widespread phenomenon in the history of art that goes beyond the logic of <

Detai l of fig. 93 .

patronage and marketplace. Since Marcel Mauss's pioneering book Essai 173


87 Rembrandt, Self-Portrait, ca. 1665-69. Oil on canvas. lveagh Bequest, Kenwood House , London.



sur le don of 1925,7 the theory of the gift has become a major research

paradigm in anthropology and sociology. 8 Gift theory has also recently been applied to historical and a few art historical case studies. 9 Mauss defined the logic or ethos of the gift as a social system ofreciprocity involving the threefold obligation to give, receive, and return. When the gift is exchanged between those of unequal social status, as Mauss emphasized in his study of archaic societies, it is a symbolic exercise of power. In this scenario, which Mauss famously exemplified by the competitive potlatch of Native Americans of the Northwest Coast, the presentation of a disinterested gift sublimates the motive for gain in order to accumulate prestige, power, honor, and status. As Genevieve Warwick puts it, gift giving is an "aestheticized form of exchange" 10 that is understood by both parties to yield a return that is not merely material. Any object exchanged as a gift encloses the donor and receiver in a system of obligations. In the process, the object remains inalienable from the donor, continuing to be identified with the transaction itself. 11 By contrast, when an object is exchanged as a commodity it becomes alienated from the seller by the payment of a purchase price, which usually ends the relation between the two parties. In personalizing the object exchanged, the gift marks the beginning and/or reinforcement of social relations. One of the most important functions of gift giving, then, is to create or sustain social bonds. Gift exchange, as Mauss and subsequent anthropologists have demonstrated, is a total social phenomenon bringing into play not merely economic, but moral, spiritual, and aesthetic values. Gift giving represents and actuates social identities. In early modern Europe, as earlier, the ritual exchange of gifts was pervasive. "Not just a spontaneous act of generosity, " Lisa Jardine writes, gifts were "an integral part of the package of obligations and indebtedness which accompanied any transaction of services, or any gesture of good 12

will." Many artists presented their work in the form of gifts: Rembrandt, Rubens, and Reni are just three alliterated examples. Some also received personal gifts from their patrons as supplements to payment. In 1509, for example, Jakob Heller rewarded Durer not merely with remuneration for completion of an altarpiece for the Dominican church in Frankfurt am Main, but with gifts for his wife and brother.13 Rubens, van Hoogstraten, and many others received gold medallions bearing the effigy of admiring patrons, while the Flemish painter Daniel Seghers, about whom more will be said below, regularly received lavish presents from his illustrious patrons in gratitude for his paintings. Nonetheless, the art of early modern gift giving between artists, patrons, and intimates has tended to be viewed from a perspective of utilitarianism, diminishing the gift's significance to the social and financial capital it accumulates. Gift exchange, 175


88 Thomas de Keyse r, Constantijn

Huygens and His Clerk , 1627. Oil on wood. National Gallery, London .

however, possesses dimensions not reducible to a prod uct of offer and demand in a free-market economy, but of a symbolic economy of sociabi lity and ho nor. In sixteenth- an d seventeenth-century Europe, moreover, vibrant gift economies existed alongside and interacted with commercial markets. It is anachronistic and reductive, therefore, to impose upon early modern gift exchange the current view of the gift as an unsolicited, gratuitous act altogether separate from economic systems of exchange. R e mbrandt 's C ourtl y Gift s

Rembrandt provides a good model for exploring gift giving in seventeenth-century Dutch culture because we know that he offered works of art as gifts, and because some of his works clearly were conceived to be distributed as gifts among his friends and associates. Focusing on Rembrandt's "gifting" of artworks may provide a more complex perspec176




tive on his status and the place of his art in the network of his patron al

Rembrandt, The Blinding of

and social relations. Moreover, tracing the rhythms and nuances of

Samson, 1636. Oil on canvas.

Rembrandt's gift exchange behavior in the various stages of his career

Stadelsches Kunstinstitut und

can give us a better appreciation of how patronage and the market coex-

Stadtische Galerie, Frankfurt.

isted in seventeenth-century Dutch art; how they interacted dynamically, complimentarily, and even in unexpected ways. Let us begin with a familiar example. On 12 January 1639, Rembrandt offered a painting 10 feet long and 8 feet high as a token of appreciation to Constantijn Huygens (fig. 88), secretary to the stadhouder Frederik Hendrik. 14 Rembrandt had just completed the Entombment and

Res urrection to complement the three Passion pictures already in the stadhouder's possession. 15 Declaring himself Huygens's "obliging and devoted servant," Rembrandt offered the monumental picture in gratitud e for Huygens's role in brokering the prestigious and lucrative commission, and to secure speedy reimbursement. About two weeks later Rembrandt dispatched the painting to The Hague, acknowledging in the accompanying letter that he was doing so "because of my obligation ... [and] in spite of your wish, [I] am sending [you] along [with this letter] a canvas, hoping 177


that you will accept it, because it is the first memento which I offer you, Lord." 16 In fact, this was not the first gift of art Rembrandt had presented to Huygens; three years before he had offered the secretary some of his "latest work," presumably impressions of his etchings, as a "token of my readiness to serve you," adding: "I trust that you wil l most graciously accept it in addition to my greetings. " 11 The painting may have been The Blinding of Samson of 1636 (fig. 89), whose original dimensions corresponded roughly to the letter's description. 18 If it was the Blinding, the violent subject may have been calculated to appeal to Huygens, who apparently appreciated Rembrandt's and Rubens's abilities to render intense emotions in vivid pictorial form. The picture's unprecedented forceful and gruesome imagery in monumental scale is also consistent, though, with the type of gift that found favor in court circles. Gifts presented to princes and courtiers tended to be conspicuous, even spectacular objects designed to attract attention and sustain interest. Galileo, for example, was continually urged by his brokers at the Medici court to bring eye-catching novelties that could be presented as gifts. Galileo replied enthusiastically, "I will carry to the Grand Duke things of infinite amazement, " which included a ball floating between two liquids, an armed lodestone, the telescope, the microscope, a mysteriously fluorescent "Bolognese stone, " and astronomical discoveries circulated in the form of enigmas. 19 Huygens, an art connoisseur and amateur on the lookout for local talent that could give Frederik Hendrik's court the lu ster expected in international court culture, had recognized Rembrandt's talents by 1630 and was in a position to advance his career. As head of the secretariat, Huygens was responsible for all the stadhouder's correspondence, functioning essentially as the intermediary through which access to the prince could be attained. 20 In this capacity, he received many letters from artists, authors, and others seeking his help, as well as gifts in various forms.

P. C. Hooft and Caspar Barlaeus requested gifts of money or honors in return for dedicating their publications to the prince . Huygens also received a painting from Daniel Seghers, the Antwerp flower painter and coadjutor, or lay brother, of the Jesuit order. 21 Seghers is a fascinating figure for our purposes, as his paintings were not sold but made available to the Society of Jesus to present to rulers and dignitaries. His works, usually painted in coll aboration with other artists, were given to great princes, including Philip IV of Spain, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, Queen Christina of Sweden, Marie de' Medici, and Charles I of England. The stadhouder's family also received at least four of his paintings between 1645 and 1652, including Garland of Flowers 178



90 Daniel Seghers and Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert,

Garland of Flowers with the Virgin Mary, 1645. Oil on canvas. Mauritshuis,The Hague.

with the Virgin (fig. 90), painted for Frederik Hendrik in collaboration with Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert in 1645.22 Seghers and his order were richly rewarded with counter-gifts whose value far exceeded what was expected of a painter's fee: in 1649, Willem II presented him with a truly spectacular gift of a solid gold palette engraved with the prince's arms and six gold brush-holders; three years later Amalia van Sohns comp leted the gift of her now deceased son with a gold maulstick that bore a skull. Although the originals were melted in the early eighteenth century, copies made of gilded brass are in the Rubenshuis, Antwerp (fig. 91). Seghers bequeathed all his gifts to the Jesuit House in Antwerp, where they were housed as celebrated treasures until the beginning of the eighteenth century. 23 Huygens was also responsible for sending this and other gifts to Seghers, and as accompaniments he composed artful poems praising the flower 179



paintings delivered to the stadhouder's family. He shipped Amalia's maul-


stick-recall that it originally bore a skull-with the fo llowing verses:

Copies after Hans Coenraadt van Brechtel , Palette and Brush

What has politeness come to!

Holders . Gilded brass.

For trouble masterfully taken,

Rubenshuis , Antwerp.

For art that knows no equal A stick appears a present Look, death sits upon the stick; And she glitters with a golden dress, Tis Seg hers' death's head indeed, So it w ill b e, soon or late; The flowers to which he gave life They w ill give him life, And make him survive his dying day, And the sunshine of his works Will be midday in the evening. 24 Huygens too, as faithfu l servant of the stadhouder's family, was rewarded for his services in the form of major g ifts and favors, not merely by a salary, which was a modest 500 guilders. Frederik Hendrik, incidentally, 180




may have presented a Rembrandt painting, possibly the Self-Portrait now in Liverpool (fig. 92), as a gift to Charles I of England, through the intermediary of Robert Kerr, Lord Ancrum, in an effort to enhance their alli ance. 25 Gifts of art were a common feature of diplomatic relations between courts, and in fact the Medici artistic workshops have even been characterized as "largely g ift factories" servicing the court's need to distribute elegant and precious artworks to princes. 26 Regrettably, we do not know Huygens's reaction to Rembrandt's painting, which he had originally refused. Rembrandt's first payment on his expensive new house was due, so the gift he insisted upon sending was meant to encourage Huygens to arrange swift reimbursement for the latest Passion pictures . Much has been made about Rembrandt's "ulterior," self-interested motivation for offering the gift, which is undeniable.21 Doubtless, his gift was understood as a device for accruing financial and social capita l;

92 Rembrandt, Self-Portrait, ca. 1630 -31. Oil on wood. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.



but a taboo on making this underlying motivation explicit was essential to the symbolic value of the exchange. 28 Gifts, especially in court settings, were strongly associated with issues of honor, service, and loyalty, and thus drew the receiver into a special bond with the donor. The power of Rembrandt's gift was its ability to transform an economic and professional bond with Huygens into a social alliance animated by a set of expectations based on honor, not profit. Thus, if Huygens accepted the gift, he was bound by honor and his status as an aristocrat to behave almost as if he had accepted an honorable chaJlenge, that is heroically. 29 He would have to reciprocate by continuing to promote Rembrandt's career, to protect him, to embrace and support him as a personal client. In this way, Rembrandt's gift would transcend the anonymity and freedom of the marketplace, as well as the dependency of traditional patronage. That Rembrandt was full y aware of how to maneuver in the acrobatics of such courtly etiquette is revealed by the rhetoric of affection, service, friendship and noble courtesy he deploys in the letters: He acknowledges Huygens's "kind inclination and affection, " which he wants to reciprocate with a gift symbolic of the "service and friendship " he was obliged to repay. 30 Later that year, when he was about to receive final payment, Rembrandt assured Huyg ens, "I shall forever seek to requite you, Sir, for this reverence, service, and evidence of friendship. "31 Terms such as "affection " and "friendship " ma y seem paradoxical when used in business transactions between figures of such unequal social status; but the language of clientage often indicated the personal, affectionate nature of that relationship. Patrons and clients were bound in a reciprocal and personal bond in which each was obliged to serve the other out of friendship, loyalty, zeal and esteem. 32 Evidently, Huygens was initially unwilling to enter into the complex relationship symbolized and inaugurated by acceptance of Rembrandt's extravagant gift. Perhaps he relented, as two more commissions were forthcoming from the stadhouder: an Adoration of the Sh epherds and a lost Circumcision of 1646, which transformed the Passion series into a cycle of Christ's life. Rembrandt would receive the princely sum of 5,400 guilders for the seve n paintings that comprise the commission .33 onetheless Huygens's support after this period apparently dwindled. A second government official and art lover may have received another gift from Rembrandt for assisting him in collecting payment from the stadhouder. In 1639 Rembrandt etched the unusual portrait historie of Johannes Uytenbogaert (fig. 93) who, in his capacity as receiver-general of Holland in Amsterdam, had provided him with information that 182


93 Rembrandt, "The Goldweigher"

Uohannes Uytenbogaert), 1639. Etching. Rij ksmuseum, Amsterdam . Bartsch 281 (2nd state) .

resulted in the timely receipt of the prince's payment. 34 The portrait a ll egori zes the sitter as a beneficent receiver and dispenser of goods in the form of sixteenth-century

orthern images of goldweighers or merchants.

Rembrandt's commemoration of Uytenbogaert's position in this histori cizing form, which also gestures to the sitter's appreciation for Northern Renaissance art, may have been a special token of the artist's gratitude. Unlike the gift Rembrandt offered Huygens, this work assumes the form of a very personalized tribute. Rembrandt 's Gifts among Amsterdam Collectors

The co urtly circumstances of the stadhouder's commission are somewh at exceptional for Rembrandt. His sig hts became more sharply focused on developing a b ase of patrons and clients among Amsterdam's patricians and merchants. That Rembrandt did not achieve comp lete su ccess in negotiating th e network of patrician collectors in Amsterdam, however, is well known, for after the 1640s his contacts with collectors at the highest 183


level of society seem to have become less frequent. From the 1650s he cultivated lasting re lationships with art lovers and dealers who were predominantly members of the well-to-do middle class. 35 Different social worlds therefore emerge as the settings in which his artworks were p roduced and circulated, and for those worlds he created a number of very distinctive works that appear to have been conceived to function within a context of gift exchange. In fact, gift giving in this period of Rembrandt's career assumes a different character from the courtly, hierarchical exchanges of the 1630s, while at the same time becoming more pronounced, more regular. The symbolism of courtly gifts nevertheless informs Rembrandt's less sporadic exchanges of gifts, which as we shall see, reflect his more personal patronage relationships, and again are consistent with patterns of early modern gift exchange behavior.36

.. â&#x20AC;˘

94 Rem bran dt, Homer Reciting

Verses, 1652. Draw ing in Jan Six's alb um amicorum Pandora. Six Collectio n, Amsterdam. Benesc h 913 .




95 Rembrandt, Min erva , 1652. Drawing in Jan Six's album am icorum Pandora. Six Collection, Amste rdam . Benesch 914.

l •





.. "

-J f -;.,

.... ~



;1..- '

These more persona l gifts include the drawings Rembrandt made for t hree frien dship alb ums, or alba amicorum, in cluding Jan Six's album

Pandora, for which he sketched two classica l scenes-Homer Reciting Verses (fig . 94) a nd Min erva (fig . 95) of 1652 -allucling to Six's interest in ancient literature and art.37 Dutch artists often contributed drawings to these albums, which also consist of written "g ifts" from friends, wellknown figures, and other contacts. 38 Alba amicorum drawings can be seen as analogous to the occasional verses that were commonly offered spontaneo usly by and for friends and associates. Rernbrandt's draw ings in Six's gift album are evidence of his relationship with this patrician as client and intimate, forming part of a dialogue b etween patron and artist oul of which also emerged the celebrated portrait etching of Six of 1647 (fig . 96) and the stunning painting of 1654 (fig. 97). 39 Rembrandt's alba 185


amicorum drawings are worthy of much more attention in relation to gift-


giving practices, but I want to proceed to consider works in which the

Re mb ran dt, Portrait ofJan Six,

familiar, intimate mode of friendship drawings is brought into a more

ca. 1647. Etch ing. Rijks mu seum,

public arena of art.

Amst erdam. Bartsch 285 (4th stat e).

Barbara Welzel has drawn attention to an old tradition, probably dating to the early eighteenth century, that Christ Preaching, known as the


Hundred Guilder Print (fig . 98), was exchanged as a gift among Rembrandt

Re mb ran dt, Portrait ofJan Six,

and his intimates. On the back of a first-state impression in Amsterdam

1654. O il o n ca nvas. Six

is an old inscription in Dutch referring to the print as being traded by "my

C o llect io n, Am sterdam .


special friend Rembrandt" for an impression of Marcantonio Raimondi's The Plague.41 Another inscription on the same impression, in French and dating from the eighteenth century, elaborates by attributing the rarity of the Hundred Guilder Print to Rembrandt's distribution of only a limited number of impressions among his friends, noting that not one was sold on the market in Rembrandt's time .42 Thus the print's later title, which refers to its exceptionally high market value, diverts attention away from its original, apparently very different circumstances of exchange. The linking of the print to exclusive conditions of production and reception, as Welzel suggested, also finds some support in Arent de Gelder's singular Portrait of Man with Rembrandt's Hundred Guilder Print (fig. 99), a selfportrait or perhaps an unknown collector who holds an impression of The Hundred Guilder Print and turns to the viewer as if engaged in an intimate discussion of Rembrandt's artistry.43 Interesting in this connection is that 186



98 Rembrandt, The Hundred

Guilder Print (Christ Preaching), ca. 1649. Etching. Rijksmuseum , Amsterdam. Bartsch 74.

99 Arent de Gelder, Portrait

of a

Man with Rembrandt's Hundred Guilder Print. Oil on canvas. State Hermitage, Saint Petersburg.



de G Ider, Rembrandt's most loyal pupil and follower, came from an affluent Dordrecht fami ly and appears to have worked primarily for small, exclusive circles of amateurs and co llectors. 44 The virtuoso Hundred Guilder Print addresses, in part, this a udience of Iiefhebbers; they wou ld

have appreciated Rembrandt's unprecedented rendering of the whole of chapter 19 of Matthew's Gospel as a unified narrative scene, and the dis play of the range of his printmaking, from light sketchlike touches to elaborate detail and deep velvety chiaroscuro effects. This intricate network of co ll ectors also accounts for the exclusivity of Rembrandt's print editions of the late 1640s and 1650s: the Hundred Guilder Print, like The Three Crosses, Christ Presented to the People, and

other plates, was printed on luxuriously expensive, delicate Japanese paper and parchment, whose particular surfaces create washlike effects of tone. And the well-known characteristics of Rembrandt's printmaking of this period, including the individuation of impressions through subtly varied applications of surface tone, transient effects of drypoint burr, and repeated state changes do not indicate, in my view, what Alpers construes as a "marketing device" to augment sales. 45 Rather, such characteristics suggest Rembrandt's focus on yielding small editions in part for a select, discriminating audience. Perhaps a trace of Rembrandt's personalized offering of his prints to an inner circle of liefhebbers is reflected in another tradition, dating to the seventeenth century, that gives Rembrandt's etching of Christ Prea ching (fig. 100) its other title of La Petite Tambe in reference to the art lover and dealer Pieter de la Tombe. De la Tombe, whom Rembrandt is recorded to have painted twice, was one of the artist's intimates and supporters in these years. 46 In any event, Rembrandt was cu lti-


Re mb ran dt, La Petite Ta mbe

(Christ Preaching), 1652. Etchi ng. Ri jksmuseum, Amsterdam. Bartsch 67.





IOI Rem bran dt, Portrait ofAbraham Francen, ca. 1656 - 58. Etching.

Ri jksmu seum, Am sterdam. Bamc h 273 (2nd state).

vating a rarefied group of collectors for his art, making prints that both fu lfilled and shaped the collecting world in ways that reach beyond the commercial operations of the marketplace. This tradition linking the Hundred Guilder Printto gift exchange perhaps becomes more compelling if we turn to Rembrandt's portrait prints, a number of which fulfilled a private ro le in the relations among his patrons, friends, and associates .47 Although Rembrandt was a major printmaker, his production of portrait prints is limited to some twenty works, apart from self-portraits. He was personally associated with most of the men who sat for these portraits, and often depicted them in far less formal roles than those seen in conventional portraiture. Two celebrated prints are the etched portraits of Jan Six of 1647 (fig. 96) and Abraham Francen of about ten years later (fig . 101). As we have seen, Rembrandt's relationship with Six, at times, went beyond that of a mere business arrangement, while Francen, an art lover of modest means, was a close friend entrusted with the guardianship of Rembrandt's daughter Cornelia:18 Significantly, Rembrandt emphasi zes the two men's leisurely pursuit of the literary and visual a1路ts, not their professional identities, which in Six's case was that of a wealthy merchant of the textile industry, and in Francen's that of apothecary. The casual poses and self-contained gazes of Six and Francen reinforce each portraits' private character. Leaning on a windowsill, Six is absorbed in a text that may be one of his own literary works, perhaps his traged y Medea, for which Rembrandt would etch a frontispiece in 1648. Francen is ensconced contentedly in a collector's cabinet as he admires a print or a drawing by the light of an open window, mirroring our experi189


ence as viewers of the print. Both men enact the appreciation for art that


served as the basis for their intimacy with Rembrandt.

Rembrandt, Portrait ofJeremias

de Decker, 1666. Oil on canvas.

Like most of Rembrandt's portrait prints, these do not bear captions iden-

State Hermitage , Saint

tifying the sitters. Rudi Ekkart has emphasized how exceptional this was


in the seventeenth-century portrait print trade, where inscriptions were needed to fix and celebrate a sitter's status in the print's broad circulation. 49 Six's and Francen 's portraits, by contrast, would have been intended for distribution within inner circles rather than as official images. 50 They were likely presented as gifts and Rembrandt conceived them to heighten the impression of familiarity. The recipient or beholder is welcomed into the private spaces of these collectors as an unacknowledged yet privileged guest, becoming a member of the sitter's network of like-minded art lovers. Rembrandt, whose artistry serves as the admired object being exchanged, is also implied as a participant in this informal and familiar encounter. As gifts such portrait prints could reinforce, even create social bonds between the sitters and their friends and contacts. A triangulation between artist, patron, and beholder is set in motion, nurtured and shaped by the inaugural gesture of the gift. Rembrandt and de Decker: For the Love of Art, not Money A poem praising Rembrandt's late painting of Jeremias de Decker (fig. 102), penned by the sitter himself who was a gifted poet, gives us the voice of one of the artist's intimates who received - and perceived-his portrait as a gift. The poem, published posthumously in 1667 in a collected edition of de Decker's works, most likely refers to the painting in the Hermitage, which bears the date of 1666, the year of de Decker's death, though Rembrandt may have depicted him in an earlier portrait. 51 De Decker also wrote a moving sonnet on Rembrandt's Christ Appearing to Mary

Magdalene of 1638 (Buckingham Palace, London), dedicating it to Herman Waterloos who, like de Decker, was another of Rembrandt's friends. 52 The relationship between de Decker and Rembrandt was a free, horizontal alliance of equals, and the works the two artists exchanged express their mutual admiration and devotion to art. The portrait painting and its accompanying poem are poignant examples of how the gift exchanged between friends can animate Rembrandt's art. De Decker writes that Rembrandt, whom he calls "the Apelles of our time," painted his likeness "not for the sake of monetary gain, but purely as a favor, attracted nobly by the Muses and out of love for art." He then frames the poem, in a suitably humble tone, as a reciprocal gift, asking rhetorically: "O if only I could requite your art with art, instead of merely gold, and thus portray as masterfully on my paper, as you have drawn me 190






on a piece of wood. " At the end of the poem de Decker calls his verses "mere simple signs of gratitude to reward you for your favor and your art .... So, three times thank you for your gift and favor, so do accept this brief poem, as a token of my gratitude, my debt for your kind favor. " Celebrating Rembrandt's artistry, de Decker's verses reciprocate the spontaneo us and gratuitous gesture of the gift, intensifying the nature of the two artists' relationship as reflected and constituted in the painting. De Decker's statement that Rembrandt painted for the love of art rather than profit is usually dismissed as empty rhetoric. 53 To be sure, Rembrandt was prepared to press patrons and clients for his price, and we know that he could be obstinate with some patrons . Moreover, the story of the artist who works for his own pleasure was a topos sanctioned by Pliny's account of how Zeuxis gave away his works because he considered them priceless.54 Alberti was the first to refer to the anecdote, adding that Zeuxis had behaved like a god among mortals in giving priceless works to the world .55 The topos reinforced painting 's claim to be a liberal art, which therefore co uld not be treated as a quantifiable commodity. But the currency of the trope does not render it empty. I embrace de Decker's language of the g ift not merely as a reference to the portrait's material transaction, but to its visual character and social function .

103 Nicolas Poussin, Self-Portrait, 1649. Oil on canvas . Musee du Louvre , Paris.



The painting, though at first sight seemingly conventional, invites the beholder into an intimate relationship with de Decker. We encounter his bust, almost life-size and commanding the full picture field, at very close range. Head slightly tilted, eyebrows raised, he appears to be responding to our presence with a fixed, but soft gaze; the transparent shadow cast over his eyes subtly evokes the complex of character and thought. De Decker does not speak, his mouth is closed, but this only heightens the impression of a quietly familiar exchange. The portrait, I would argue, embraces the beholder, sitter, and Rembrandt himself in an intimate reciprocity analogous to de Decker's verses; taken together the painting and poem articulate in visual and verbal form the warmth between intimates who share, in de Decker's words, a mutual love for art. Thus the viewer re-enacts before the work the dialogue of familiarity and honor that the gifting of art-both the portrait and poem-served to constitute and sustain. A painting by the contemporary French artist Poussin, who we know was self-consciously cultivating and articulating an identity not beholden to either the demands of traditional patronage or the vicissitudes of the market, offers useful parallels to Rembrandt's gift portrait of de Decker. Poussin's Self-Portrait of 1650 (fig. 103) was painted for his patron and friend Paul Freart de Chantelou. 56 Certainly the picture portrays a different subject, and was shaped by utterly different conditions and aesthetic commitments; yet, like Rembrandt's portrait, Poussin's memorializes the love of painting and the friendship shared by the artist and his patron. Moreover, in a letter of 1650 Poussin describes his portrait as a gift, and takes grave offence at receiving Chantelou's extravagant payment. He writes: I promised myself that you would receive the little present with a favorable eye, but I expected nothing more, and did not claim that it placed you under any obligation to me. I was content enough to have a place in paint in your cabinet without filling my purse with money. It is a kind of Tyranny for you to render me so much your debtor that

I can never pay off my debt. 57 Rembrandt's portrait of de Decker, like Poussin 's Self-Portrait, resists the conditions imposed b y the "tyranny" of both the market and conventional patronage to foster an alliance based on friendship, not dependency. Seen from the perspective of the ethics of the gift, such paintings, however distinct in style and context, continue to engage the beholder in the kind of familiar reciprocity they were created to engender and nurture.


Rembrandt in the Nineties

Catherine B. Scallen

A major exhibition of paintings, drawings, and etchings by Rembrandt is held in Amsterdam and London. Rembrandt specialists debate the attribution of individual pictures in heated arguments that spill into the popular press . An outsider to the art-historical establishment poses a challenge about the attributions of famous paintings to Rembrandt, using closerange photographic details to argue his case. A lavish multi-volume, large-scale, fully illustrated catalogue raisonne has started to appear in print, and while it will take years to complete, it quickly becomes the first point of reference for Rembrandt painting attributions. For many people, even those who are not specialists in Rembrandt studies, the scenario sketched above sounds very familiar. But the decade in question is not the 1990s, but rather the 1890s, the same decade in which Isabella Stewart Gardner purchased her first Rembrandt, the Self-Portrait of 1629 (fig. 104). Although changing conceptions of Rembrandt as an artist have been elucidated by a number of scholars, the historiography of Rembrandt painting connoisseurship has been less well-explored, particularly in English-speaking countries. 1 This essay is intended to redress this issue in part through a discussion of major events in Rembrandt connoisseurship during what was the most pivotal decade for the formation of modern Rembrandt research. The connoisseurship of Rembrandt paintings existed in a rudimentary form from the eighteenth century onward, through references to the artist's works (or paintings attributed to him) in auction catalogues. 2 John Smith, a London art dealer, produced the first catalogue of Rembrandt paintings in 1835, but it had several limitations.3 Not comprehensive, it was also heavily weighted to discussion of works in British collections. Smith included every reference he could find to Rembrandt paintings, <

Detail of fig. I 04.

including those from auction catalogues and reproductive prints, but this 195


meant that there was a significant amount of duplication in the entries. Most importantly, Smith categorically refused to make judgments about authorship or quality in his discussions of works in private hands, hence anything claimed to be a Rembrandt was listed as such, without consideration of the validity of such cJaims. 4 Then, in 1868 the Dutch writer Carel Vosmaer published a catalogue of Rembrandt's works as an appendix to his monograph on the artist,

Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn, sa vie et ses oeuvres. 5 His innovations included listing Rembrandt's works in all three media, and organizing his list chronologically. Vosmaer was willing to make judgments about quality and authenticity, and did so in his text as well as in catalogue entries. However, his list was still not truly comprehensive, and he missed many paintings that were already attributed to Rembrandt. A number of critics thought that Vosmaer's scholarship was more trustworthy than his judgment - in other words, he did not have "a good eye." Tellingly, a certain

104 Rembrandt, Self-Portrait, 1629. Oil on wood. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum , Boston .



DT l


105 Wilhelm Bode. Photograph,

ca. 1900.

young reviewer, Wilhelm Bode, pointed out in a review from 1870 that Vosmaer admitted to having seen only half the paintings he listed, a fact the reviewer found indefensible in the practice of connoisseurship .6 It is Bode (fig. 105) who provides our transition to the modern world of connoisseurship. Starting with that 1870 review, he not only critiqued Vosmaer, but proceeded to displace him as a connoisseur by listing all the paintings of Rembrandt found in German collections, some of which were not known to Vosmaer, and by making firm judgments about them. Through this process, Bode created a new standard for Rembrandt connoisseurship. This standard was asserted in his seminal publication of 1883, Studien zur Geschichte der hollandischen Malerei. 7 Although it was devoted to a num-

ber of Dutch artists, he treated Rembrandt most extensively, with a long essay and then a catalogue of his paintings. Bode also spelled out his guiding principles for evaluating paintings throughout the book. A connoisseur sh ould only make final judgments about paintings seen in the original. Photographs, a recent innovation, were a great help to connoisseurship, but should serve only as adjunct evidence. Perhaps most importantly, the opinions of other authorities were not to be treated as sacrosanct, and could be challenged directly. While in his list of Rembrandt paintings Bode offered approximately the same number as Vosmaer had in the second edition of Rembrandt, sa vie et ses oeuvres (1877), the specific composition of Rembrandt's oeuvre differed considerably from Vosmaer's choices . Bode, however, vouched for the authenticity of his choices by his first-hand knowledge of the paintings. 8 197


Bode's catalogue was appreciated by contemporary critics as a contribution of the greatest importance. 9 In each of these reviews, Bode's aim - to make art history a discipline founded on empirical evidence, particularly reliant on archival findings and classification of art works-was recognized and commended as an appropriate goal. 10 The reviewers praised Bode's knowledge of the latest research of other scholars, but above all, they acknowledged his "Bilderkenntnis" -

his knowledge of the works,

or connoisseurship - which they regarded as being of a refinement rare even among his German colleagues. 11 Hence the limitations of Smith's and Vosmaer's studies of Rembrandt's paintings, in comparison with Bode's, were readily acknowledged, while Bode's analysis of Rembrandt's early work in particular was described as being of" epochal" importance. 12 If we move forward to 1890, Bode had just been named director of the

Gemaldegalerie in Berlin and was widely acknowledged as the premier connoisseur of Rembrandt; one scholar even described him in this decade as the "predestined personality" that Rembrandt connoisseurship called for. 13 Why? Because of his eye, certainly, but also because he had seen more than anyone else, and was willing to take stronger stances on what he had seen, for right or wrong. Nonetheless, in 1891 he received a peculiar and disturbing challenge to his authority when an independent art historian named Max Lautner published a book called Wer ist Rembrandt?

Grundlagen zu einem Neubau der hollandischen Kunstgeschichte (Who is Rembrandt? Foundations for a Renovation of Dutch Art History).14 Lautner maintained that Rembrandt, the historical figure, was not the "Rembrandt" of the well-loved paintings but an imposter who had stolen the work of his best pupil, Ferdinand Bol, and painted his own name on Bol's works. 15 According to Lautner, Bol did not completely accede to this, but instead signed his own name, in some cases even multiple times on the same painting, under the topmost layer of paint. Designating these "latent signatures," Lautner revealed them in truly modern fashion, through photographic reproductions of Rembrandt paintings. 16 Armed with this discovery, Lautner believed that he was able to find evidence of the "latent" signatures on the surface of many Rembrandt paintings, including The Nightwatch and Th e Jewish Bride. To support his case, Lautner included photogravures of several of the supposed latent signatures, produced from photographs that he claimed were made by a new process that heightened tonal contrasts and penetrated beneath the surface of paintings, but that he insisted did not entail retouching, even then a highly suspect technique .17 While specialists in Dutch art first dismissed the book with contempt, they were not able to contain its impact. The popular press took up the argu198



ment of Wer ist Rembrandt? as a sensational story with potential ramifications for scholarship and the art market, and treated the book as a serious challenge to the traditional understanding of Rembrandt. Initially, the supposedly objective "scientific" nature of Lautner's photographic evidence made his argument hard to dismiss, especially in an era when historical studies were largely written from a positivist point of view. Bode was Lautner's primary target among the "Herren Spezialisten," an unsurprising choice, given the Gemaldegalerie director's preeminent status in the world of Rembrandt connoisseursbip by 1891. 18 And it is clear that Bode understood the battle over Lautner's book as one specifically directed against him and his Rembrandt scholarship, claiming in his memoir that many had wished for him to fail in this case. Thus one of bis many rivals and detractors, Professor Hermann Grimm at the University of Berlin, though a specialist in Italian art rather than Dutch painting, not only gave his public support to Lautner's theory, but also convinced a junior functionary, Karl Frey, to demand that Bode present for examination all the Rembrandts in the Berlin museum to determine whether they carried latent Bol signatures. Decades later Bode still recalled the incident with indignation. 19 Bode justifiably credited his ultimate triumph in this case to the validity of his position, but he also received the public support of younger Dutch art historians including Abraham Bredius and Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, the director and the assistant director, respectively, of the Mauritshuis in The Hague, who wrote in Bode's (and Rembrandt's) defense.20 With their help, Lautner's lack of knowledge about documents that demonstrated the authenticity of the historical Rembrandt's execution of paintings was revealed. They also brought to public attention the fact that a number of Lautner's photographs had indeed been retouched or enhanced-and were thus not transparent, scientific evidence of an old conspiracy. 21 When it became clear that Lautner had no case, both Rembrandt's and Bode's positions were solidified (so completely had their reputations become fused), while the careers of the yo unger art historians who had stood against Lautner were also boosted. Through this chain of events, the practice of connoisseurship became recognized as a professional practice best carried out by those in museum careers. The incident helped to bring to a close the era of the amateur connoisseur-the most important result of an odd chapter in art history. The emergence in the 1890s of younger art historians who became Rembrandt specialists, most notably Bredius and Hofstede de Groot, was a boon to the study of the artist, and to Bode, who, as their mentor, could call upon their help. The three men participated in the dramatic interna 199


tionalization of Rembrandt studies at this time, the other major development of modern Rembrandt scholarship. Each traveled incessantly in this decade. In 1893 alone, Bode went to Paris twice, to London, Vienna, and Italy, to Saint Petersburg, and then to the United States for two months. 22 The most famous trip of this decade, however, was Bredius'sjourney to Galicia, Poland, and Russia in 1897, during which he discovered Rembrandt's Polish Rider in Count Tarnowski's remote castle, and insisted it travel west for the Rembrandt exhibition in Amsterdam in 1898. 23 His account has often been cited in the Rembrandt literature, for it makes good reading: he excitedly described looking around a room full of so-so Dutch pictures until he spotted one of Rembrandt's greatest masterpieces, as he put it, hanging here for nearly 100 years. Yet the part of his account that is nearly always overlooked is at least as important, for here he told how he visited Bode in Berlin before going off on his trip, and how Bode instructed him to inspect the Tarnowski picture to decide if it was a genuine Rembrandt and to obtain a photograph for Bode's new Rembrandt catalogue. Collaborative Rembrandt connoisseurship, in other words, was by no means an invention of the Rembrandt Research Project in the 1960s. Bredius's account also demonstrates how the insistence on seeing paintings firsthand (a practice Bode promoted since the 1870s) changed the way connoisseurs worked, making such constant travel necessary. Articles from the time make clear that all were aware how much modern transportation systems, particularly railroads and steamships, enabled the pursuit of this kind of work, and how photography had proven an irreplaceable aid to the modern connoisseur. 24 Bode's trip to the United States in 1893 was occasioned by work on his massive Rembrandt catalogue. He wished to see the paintings attributed to Rembrandt that had recently made their way across the Atlantic, another important feature of the internationalization of Rembrandt connoisseurship.25 In 1883 he had not listed a single painting by Rembrandt in North America; ten years later there was a good number, which was growing all the time. The fact that Bode recognized that the tide of collecting was now turning to America, and that one needed to know and to be on good terms with the new American collectors, was entirely characteristic of his clear-sighted understanding of the modern art world. The art market in Europe had heated up considerably in the 1880s and would explode in the 1890s - and Bode, as a museum professional, had always prided himself on being a major figure in this market, who knew and could negotiate with dealers and private collectors alike . Now, however, he began to fear that museums such as Berlin's would be squeezed out of the market by the economic strength of American collectors, public and private, and stated his concern a few years later in a series of articles intended to draw attention to the problem. 26 200


For a variety of reasons, including the American interest in naturalistic modes of painting and an attraction to portraiture, Rembrandt became the preferred old master artist among American collectors during the 1890s. 27 The public attention given to Rembrandt, including an increased number of publications on him, notices in the popular press about sales of paintings attributed to Rembrandt, and the staging of Rembrandt exhibitions, led in turn to greater interest in collecting his works by those wealthy enough to do so. In this regard, Isabella Stewart Gardner's purchase in 1896 of Rembrandt's Self-Portrait indicates her leading role in the modish new attention to the Dutch master on the part of American collectors. 28 The astonishing growth of the market for European painting as a driving force for Rembrandt connoisseurship in the 1890s was made manifest in Bode's new catalogue of Rembrandt paintings, published from 1897 to 1906 with the assistance of Hofstede de Groot. 29 This eight-volum e, Jargeformat catalogue, published in separate German, English, and French editions, was among the very first monographs of an old master painter to be fully illustrated with photographs, and as such is historically important.30 Its practical impact on Rembrandt collecting was even greater. In his memoir Bode stated that in

orth America the Rembrandt catalogue

was called "the Bible" and used as such: if a painting had the imprimatur of publication by Bode, it was safe to buy as a genuine Rembrandt.31 Bode's publisher was Charles Sedelmeyer, an art book publisher, but more significantly, the leading dealer in the sale of Rembrandt paintings. While in his catalogue introduction Bode described his publisher as a "disinterested coadjutor," even he later acknowledged the commercial advantage for Sedelmeyer in being involved in such a prestigious publication, even ifthe catalogue itself did not turn a profit.32 Painting after painting in the catalogue had already gone through Sedelmeyer's hands in the 1880s or 1890s, and many more would pass through his dealership in the future. 33 Alfred von Wurzbach, a bitter scholarly rival of Bode's since the mid-1870s, had particularly harsh things to say about Bode's and Sedelmeyer's working relationship in his Niederlandisches KiinstlerLexikon of 1910. 34While Wurzbach's imputation that Bode had been motivated by financial gain was indefensible, by current standards Bode's and Sedelmeyer's arrangement suggests the potential for conflicts of interest.35 The first seven volumes of Bode's catalogue presented 539 paintings; the eighth contained a supplement adding 56 more, bringing the total to 595 paintings attributed to Rembrandt. As Bode noted with more pride than caution, this total nearly doubled the number of Rembrandts he had published in 1883, representing the discovery of some 200 works in a little 201


more than twenty years. However, Bode and his closest colleagues in Rembrandt connoisseurship did not see this as a potential warning about the subjective nature of attributing paintings, but rather as the logical consequence of expanded efforts to find previously unknown works, abetted by the scholar's (and dealer's) new abilities to travel far and wide . Another transformation in the market since 1883 was the rapid rate at which the works changed locations, and the growing presence of North American collections, public and private, among Rembrandt owners. By 1906, when volume eight finally appeared, fifty-five paintings, or almost ten percent of the works Bode attributed to Rembrandt, had crossed the Atlantic. At best, only about half of the paintings in the catalogue would still be generally accepted today by Rembrandt specialists, and, as Gary Schwartz has pointed out, the more recent the "discovery" of these works, the smaller the chance for their authenticity. 36 In fact, many of the most suspect are those that came to America, and the authenticity of others in American collections has been questioned at one time or another, even (though not very plausibly) the Gardner Museum's Self-Portrait. 37 Bode was by no means solely responsible for the inflation of Rembrandt's oeuvre. Bredius and Hofstede de Groot were working just as feverishly to find, publish, and often purchase Rembrandt paintings. As museum professionals, consultants to collectors, and private buyers, these scholars were leading participants in the booming art market, and did not by any means separate their scholarship from this activity. Bode acquired five paintings he believed to be Rembrandts for the Berlin gallery, but Bredius far outdid him in this decade : as director of the Mauritshuis he acquired three paintings attributed to Rembrandt for the museum, but privately purchased another seven, which he immediately lent to the Mauritshuis for public display. 38 In addition to introducing previously unknown Rembrandts to the scholarly world, Hofstede de Groot in 1897 found a painting attributed to Flinck in a Cologne auction, purchased it himself, and promptly rechristened it a study by Rembrandt of his wife Saskia. 39 The group of sixteen new "Rembrandts" promoted by these three scholars included some famous and important works, such as the Portrait of the M ennonite Preach er Corn elis Anslo and His Wife in Berlin and the Homer

in the Mauritshuis. But it also included such paintings as The Man in a Golden Helmet, acquired for the Berlin museum in 1897 through Bode's

new "friends" organization, the first of its kind, and the Mauritshuis's Saul and David, which Bredius purchased in 1898, reportedly by selling

his carriage and horse. 40 Both paintings are now rejected from Rembrandt's oeuvre, and in fact only six of the original group of sixteen new Rembrandts generally pass muster today, amounting to a success rate of 38 percent. 202


The worlds of scholarship, art dealing, museums, and national promotion came together in the last major event for Rembrandt connoisseurship of the 1890s: the monographic exhibitions of Rembrandt's paintings held in Amsterdam and London in 1898. While only the Amsterdam exhibition will be discussed here, it is important to note that the staging of two separate (and competing) Rembrandt exhibitions in a six-month period, at a time when such retrospectives of individual old master artists were still rare, was one more indication of the meteoric rise in Rembrandt's stature as an artist by the last decade of the nineteenth century. 41 The Amsterdam exhibition was held in conjunction with the coronation of the young Queen Wilhelmina, and was clearly intended to serve as a symbol of national pride and accomplishment. 42 While a committee including Bredius and, as an honorary member, Bode, had been appointed to oversee the planning of the exhibition, most of the work was done by Hofstede de Groot. As a pioneering international effort, it was a daunting task for organizers who had to struggle with new issues of insurance, shipping, and logistical problems with only a year's time to carry it out. 43 One hundred twenty-four paintings from all periods of Rembrandt's career were hung in the Rijksmuseum, and were accompanied by 400 photographs of paintings not on display. These photographs were supplied by Sedelmeyer from the files for Bode's catalogue. In addition to its nationalistic significance, therefore, the exhibition was a triumphant assertion of Bode's vision of Rembrandt, transmitted through his followers Hofstede de Groot and Bredius, and a celebration of positivist art history. Here, it was maintained, one could see brought to life by Rembrandt's paint and preserved for future generations the artist's family and friends , his father and mother, his sister and brother, his wife Saskia and companion Hendrickje, who had first been made known through documents discovered since the 1850s. By the late nineteenth century the equation-or elision -between Rembrandt's life and art was considered absolute. In fact, this was believed to be a "scientific" understanding of his art, for it was grounded in the facts of Rembrandt's life. Moreover, for the first time one could form a comprehensive view of Rembrandt's production and make comparisons on the spot, thanks to Sedelmeyer's photographs. The importance of these photographs cannot be overemphasized; time and time again reviewers of the show referred to them, and for many they seemed to provide incontrovertible evidence about Rembrandt's life and art. In essence, everyone could now be a connoisseur-as long as they followed the path set by the Rembrandt specialists. Despite the exhibition's generally laudatory reception, there were dis senters in the press. The painter and art critic Jan Veth wrote a long and perceptive critique of the show for the Dutch periodical De Kroniek, 203


106 Followe r of Remb randt, Christ

and the Woman Taken in Adultery. Oil on canvas.Whe r eabouts unknown.

wh ere he fo und much to admire but a fair amount to question as well. 44 Even Bredius, who despite his role on the organizing committee wrote a review of the exhibition, politely challenged some of Hofstede de Groot's attributions and his chronology. 45 Hofstede de Groot responded with both an an gry letter in the Rotterdam newspaper and, in a more temp erate vein, in a review article for the German periodical Repertorium Kunstwissenschaft. In both cases, he maintained that while no one was

infallible, there were nonetheless no incorrect attributions, no "false Rembrandts" in the exhibition. 46 Hofstede de Groot was most defensive about the painting Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (fig. 106), then in the Weber collection in

Hamburg, b ut previously at Blenheim Palace in England. He had good reason to be defensive, given Veth's vitriol that it was inconceivable "that anyone could hold this for a Rembrandt," not just because of the false signature, but because of the coarseness of the figures, the depiction of "the pouting chimpanzee who must play the part of Christ," and the "van Dyckian" young man to the left. 47 Bredius, along with the French Rembrandt scholar, Emile Michel, likewise condemned the painting when shown in Amsterdam, and it proved to be a major focus for disagreeme nt among Rembrandt connoisseurs for several decades to come. 48 The painting can thus serve as a useful example of a controversial Rembrandt attribution that illuminates the issues involved in connoisseurship at that time.



Bode had this to say about the painting in 1901 in his Rembrandt catalogue: The authenticity of the work was never questioned while it remained in the Duke of Marlborough's possession; it is mentioned by Smith as a "capital work" of Rembrandt's and described as genuine by Waagen and Vosmaer, and also by me in my Studien. But at the sale it fetched such a small price that it was obviously looked upon with suspicion by the numerous amateurs and dealers present; and when in 1898 the Rembrandt exhibition at Amsterdam brought it to the notice of a larger circle of connoisseurs, very conflicting opinions were pronounced. While some connoisseurs accepted it not only as genuine, but as a very admirable example of the master, others doubted its authenticity, or denied it emphatically. Among the specialist-students of Rembrandt, my colleague, Dr. Hofstede de Groot, upholds the authenticity of the picture, as he has always done, whereas Dr. A. Bredius declares that he fails to recognise the hand of Rembrandt in "this inanimate work" . I am bound to confess that I have myself had my doubts of the picture, in view of the unusual character of several of the figures, of their arrangement as half-lengths, and, to some extent, of the handling itself. But on the other hand I must admit that the composition is in all essential ways identical with an original design by Rembrandt, preserved in an etching executed by B. Picart early in the eighteenth century from a pen-drawing; the master is clearly recognisable in the reproduction, in spite of the hasty and imperfect rendering.49 It is doubtful that Bode's hierarchy of values in determining the painting's attribution would stand up today, but this description should be understood as the product of a masterful negotiation of an unpleasant situation. Bod e's proteges stood on opposite sides of the question, while Sedelmeyer himself had sold the painting to Consul Weber (and would purchase it again in 1911, before selling it to the American lumber baron T. B. Walker). During a later dispute between Hofstede de Groot and Bredius in the mid1920s, Bredius would insist that Bode had never believed in the authenticity of Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, and included it in his oeuvre catalogue only when Sedelmeyer threatened to cancel publication of further volumes if it were omitted. According to Bredius, the compromise that author and publisher reached was that Bode could express some hesitation about the painting's authorship in the catalogue entry. However, Bredius maintained that he still had in his possession a postcard from Bode on which had been written about the work, "Never, never Rembrandt." 50 Thus Bode's decision to present a decidedly equivocal judgment of the painting, in which he relied on provenance, graphic reproduction, and general compositional scheme as determining factors in attribution above technique, style, and execution, should be seen as a practical consequence 205



of his entanglement in the overlapping worlds of museum work, art dealing, and art historical scholarship in the 1890s. At a distance of one hundred years, much of this literature has sunk into obscurity. Bode's catalogue may seem to be of no more than historical interest, in part because of its far-fetched attributions. The same can be said about many of the attributions made by his proteges Bredius and Hofstede de Groot, and his later acolyte, Wilhelm Valentiner. It is disconcerting to realize, for instance, that of the 124 paintings included in the Amsterdam exhibition in 1898, no more than 32 would be accepted as autograph today; a few more are considered copies. By the standards of our time, these connoisseurs often confused the Rembrandtesque with Rembrandt, and in their genuine eagerness to understand the master, and simultaneously champion his work, it was all too easy to continue expanding the boundaries of his oeuvre, especially in the context of the heated art market of the 1890s. The result was that, ironically, the criteria for what made a painting a "Rembrandt" were much looser in 1899 than they had been in 1869, when Bode set out on his career as a connoisseur, in large part because of the increased interest in the artist and concomitant attention to his work on the part of scholars, art dealers, and collectors. Of this group of scholars, only Bredius was willing to admit fully to the contingency of all decisions based on connoisseurship alone. To the end, Hofstede de Groot and Bode insisted that these evaluations could in most cases be arrived at in a scientific fashion. Yet we need to remember, each time we flip through a monograph of Rembrandt's paintings, fully illustrated and in color, that our predecessors did not have this advantage, nor that of the cumulative understanding gained from the series of Rembrandt exhibitions held over the decades since the 1890s. 51 Any critique of these scholars' connoisseurship should also be tempered by acknowledging that the Rembrandt specialists of the 1890s were already asking important questions about Rembrandt's working method, such as, did Rembrandt actually collaborate with his students or assistants on individual paintings? and how do we differentiate between a poor Rembrandt and a good work by a Rembrandt follower? 52 While the results of their efforts to define a Rembrandt corpus were decidedly uneven, they did insist on professionalizing connoisseurship in ways that have proven decisive for its practice in the long run . And, while bitter disputes would bring about estrangement between these scholars, the productive years of their collaborative efforts provided a model for later generations, and saw their contribution to the creation of the museum curatorial profession as understood today. ow that Rembrandt connoisseurship is no longer market-driven in the way it was a century ago, its goals are quite different, while methodologi -





cal innovations have helped to change its modes of practice. Some examples of scholarship produced by museums in recent years-most notably the discussion of the Rembrandt group in the catalogue of Dutch pictures in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Rembrandt! Not

Rembrandt exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the catalogue Art in the Making: Rembrandt produced by the National Gallery in London - suggest ways in which our approaches to Rembrandt connoisseurship have changed by incorporating results of technical examinations unknown in the 1890s, by considering the implications of the workshop hypothesis, and by admitting that in some cases we simply cannot determine whether every brush stroke was laid in by Rembrandt. 53 With all our advantages, we should not forget that the lineaments of our scholarly world-the lively argumentation over big issues and individual paintings, the nexus of publication and critical review, the presentation of temporary exhibitions, and the call for first-hand examination of works-were pioneered and codified by our predecessors in the 1890s, and that our evaluation of their results should call for humility on our parts in light of what our own scholarly successors might come to think of our work. Let us, then, allow Abraham Bredius to have the last word, with a thought as relevant today as it was when stated over a hundred years ago: "The longer one studies Rembrandt, the more one finds, that one is never finished studying him." 54




Michael Zell: Introduction

11 Schama 1999. Despite Sch ama's effort to move beyond a preoccupation with attribution, Benjamin




Quoted in Sylvia Hochfield, "Rembrandt: The

Binstock's review insists upon its centrality: review

unvarnished truth?" Art News 86 (1987), p. 105.

of Sc hama 1999 in Art Bulletin 82 (2000), pp . 361 -

See in particular Walter Liedtke, "Reconstructin g


Remb ra ndt : Portraits from th e early years in

12 Westermann 2000, p. 327.

Amsterdam (1631 -34)," Apollo 129 (1989), pp . 323 -

13 Ibid ., p . 330.

31, 371 - 72; and Leonard J. Slatkes, review of

14 Reported by Abraham Bredius, "La utner und kein

Corpus vol. 1 in Art Bulletin 71 (1989), pp. 139 - 45.

Ende," Nederlandsche Spectator 18 (1891); quoted

Ernst van de Wetering, "The Rembrandt Research

in Boomgaard 1995, p . 108, and Alan Chong, "The

Project," Burlington Maga zine 128 (1993), p. 765,

myth of young genius: Understanding Rembrandt's

wrote th at the Project's new goal is "to present all

early career" in Boston 2000, p. 70.

the argu ments fo r and aga inst attribution to

15 Ibid., p. 69.

Rembrandt witho ut the need to force individua l

16 Ibid., p. 70.

paintings into the straightjacket of a simple 'yes'

17 See Emmens 1968.

or 'no."'


Kassel 2001, nos. 9, 10, 11, 60, 62, 75, 79, 80, 81.


Josua Bruyn, review of Sumowski 1983, vol. 1, in

Stephanie S . Dickey : Rembrandt and

Oud Holland 98 (1984), p. 158, had hinted that the

Saskia: Art , Commerce , and the

Polish Rider may have been painted by Willem

Poetics of Portraiture

Drost. Van de Wetering 1997, pp. 207-10, argues


that the painting is autograph but may have been

Components of this paper were first presented at two

completed by a later artist.

symposia, "Van Eyck to Vermeer: Reflections on etherlandish art presented in honor of Egbert

Most prominently, the survey exhibition held in Berlin, London, and Amsterdam (Berlin 1991), in

Haverkamp Begemann," Institute of Fine Arts, New York

which the Rembrandt Research Project participated

University, May 1998, and "Rethinking Rembrandt,"

more or less directly, and the exhibition Rembrandt

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, October 2000. I am

I Not Rembrandt at the Metropolitan Museum of

grateful for helpful comments and suggestions from

Art (New York 1995).

many colleagues, especially Egbert Haverkamp


Schwartz 1985.

Begemann, Alison Kettering, Eric Jan Sluijter, Amy


Alpers 1988.

Golahny, and Alan Chong.


Egbert Haverkamp Bege mann, "The state of research of Northern Baroque Art," The Art

Sluijter 1998, especially pp. 175, 177; Kunst voor de

Bulletin 69 (1987), p. 518, writes: "Schwartz

beeldenstorm (exh. cat. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam,

reconstructs Rembrandt's mo tivations withou t

1986), no. 74. See a lso, for example, Jacob W ill emsz

asking whether his art supports his findings .... "

Del ff, Self-Portrait Painting His Wife while His Son s

Peter Sutton, review of Alpers 1988 in Burlington

Look On, ca. 1591 -94 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

M agazine 131 (1989), pp . 428 -30.

and Gerrit van Honthorst, Margaretha Maria de

10 Chapman 1990.



Roodere, with Her Mother Maria van der Putten,


Painting the Portrait of Her Father Gerard de


Rembrandt (New York, 1961); White 1964, pp. 27 - 30,

A few inventory references (see notes 29 and 30

58-63; Ti.impel 1993, pp. 109 - 16, 233; Schama 1999,

below) cite portraits of Rembrandt and his wife, but

pp. 354-82, 501-8; A Th. van Deursen in Berlin

no surviving examp les are portraits in contempo-

1991, p. 45. Documents relating to Saskia's fami ly

rary dress comparable to, for instance, Joachim

and marriage to Rembrandt were assembled by the

Wtewael 's pendant portraits of himself and Christina

Leeuwarden archivist Wopke Eekhoff, De vrouw van

van Halen, 1601 (Centraal Museum, Utrecht),

Rembrandt (Leeuwarden, 1862). Most are collected

Rubens's double portrait of himself and Isabella

in Strauss, van der Meulen 1979 (Saskia' s last will is

Brandl in a garden (Alte Pinakolhek, Munich), or

doc. 1642/2), but Broos 1981 - 82 adds new insights.

Gabriel Metsu's pendants of himself and his wife

See also: Schwartz 1985, pp. 183 - 94, 221-22;

(J.B. Speed Museum, Louisville). Later paintings

S. AC. Dudok van Heel in Berlin 1991, pp. 54-60;

inspired by Rembrandt's more creative approach

Edinburgh 2001, pp. 22 - 23. The recommendation of Broos 1981-82, p. 256, that "Saskia's relatives ... played a role in Saskia and

Portrait at Age 34 (National Gal lery, London), and

Rembrandt's private life [that] should not be under-

Jngeltje Thovelingh (private coll ection, Sweden; for

estimated" has been followed by some later biogra-

both paintings by Flin ck, see Moltke 1965, nos. 434,

phers (for examp le, Ti.impel 1993, p. 116; Schama

435); Jacob Adriaensz Backer, Bartholomeus

1999, p. 366), but th e particulars of Rembrandt's

Breenbergh, 1644, and Rebecca Schellingwou

Frisian associations deserve further study. Still fun-

(Amsterdams Historisch Museum); and numerous

damental is H.F. Wijnman, "Rembrandt als huis-

works by Frans van Mieris (discussed below).

genoot van Hendrick Uylenburgh te Amsterdam

Inscribed: "dit is naer mijn huysvrou geconterfeyt so

(1631-1635): Was Rembrandt Doopsgezind of liber-

sy 21 jaer oud was den derden dach als wij getroudl

tijn?" in Uit de kring van Rembrandt en Vandel:

waeren de 8 Junijus 1633" (this is portrayed after my

Verzamelde studies over hun leven en omgeving

wife when s he was 21 years old the third day after

(Amsterdam, 1959), pp. 1- 18. 8

For Rembrandt's mother, see recently Amsterdam

427; Berlin 1991a, no. 3.

2000, no. 14; and Kassel 2001, no. 64. Titus's role in

Wilhelm Bode, "Die bildnisse der Saskia van

his father's life and work has yet to be thoroughly

Uylenborch als Braut undjunge Gattin Rembrandts,"

studied. Rembrandt's representations ofHendrickje

Jahrbuch der Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 18

differ in character from those of Saskia. See espe-

(1897), pp. 82 - 91. See also Bolton 1893 (not scholarly,

cially: Alpers 1988, pp. 65 - 66; Svetlana Alpers a nd

but carefully documented by the standards of the

Margaret D. Carroll, "Not Bathsheba" in Adams

Lime, as noted by Broos 1981 - 82, p. 253, note 41).

1998, pp. 147 - 75; Edinburgh 2001, pp. 15, 218 - 23,

Edinburgh 2001, with valuable catalogue essays by

passim [the exhibition proposes that Rembrandt's

Julia Lloyd-Williams, S. AC. Dudok van Heel, Eddy

ideal woman evolved from a Saskia-esque to a

de Jongh, Volker Manulh, Eric Jan Sluijter, and

Hendrickje-esque type].

Marieke de Winkel, appeared as this essay was



1643 (art market), derived from Rembrandt's Self-

our betrothal, the 8th of June 1633). See: Benesch


For example: Bolton 1893; Gladys Schmitt,

Roodere, 1652 (Centraal Mus um, Utrecht).

include, for instance, Govert Flinck's Self-Portrait,




See Edinburgh 2001, nos. 30, 41 - 48, 82, 83, 92 - 93.

going to press.

The motif contributed to the etched Death of the

Libel suit filed in Leeuwarden on 16 July 1638,

Virgin, 1639 (Bartsch 99) and may have inspired

demanding recompense of 64 gold guilders for

the allegorical Death Appearing to a Couple, 1639

damage to Rembrandt's good name and an equal

(Bartsch 109). See also: White 1964, pp. 61, 63;

amount for Saskia (Strauss, van der Meulen 1979,

Berlin 1991a, pp. 78-80 (no. 20), pp. 203-4

doc. 1638/ 7).

(no. 14).



10 See Peter Schatborn, "Rembrandt: From life and from memory" in Rembrandt and His Pupils: Papers

Stockholm 1992, no. 142; Edinburgh 2001, no. 87.

Given at a Symposium in National museum Stockholm,

Two pictorial sources have been identified, but this

2 - 3October1992, edited by Gore! Cavalli-Bjorkman

sketch is certainly a study from life.

(Stockho lm, 1993), pp. 156- 72. 11

19 See: Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1639/13;

20 See: S. A. C. Dudok van Heel, "Het 'gewoon lijck

Corpus A70; New York 1995, vol. 2, no. 7; Edinburgh

model' van de schilder Dirck Bieker," Bulletin van het

2001, no. 26.

Rijksmuseum 29 (1981), pp. 214-20; Volker Manuth,

12 Corpus A 111, superseding Mayer-Meintschel 1970.

"' As stark naked as one could possibly be painted ... '

13 See: lngvar Bergstrom, "Rembrandt's double por-

The reputation of the nude female model in the age

trait of himself and Saskia in the Dresden Gallery: A

of Rembrandt" in Edinburgh 2001, pp. 48 - 54; Eric

tradition transformed," Nederlands Kunsthistorisch

Jan Sluijter, '"Horrible nature, incomparab le art':

Jaarboek 17 (1966), pp. 143 - 69; Mayer-Meintschel

Rembrandt and the depiction of the female nude" in

1970; Kahr 1973, pp. 252 - 58; Smith 1982a, pp. 281 -

Edinburgh 2001, pp. 37 - 47. However, ideal nudity

82; Schwartz 1985, p. 192; Corpus A111; Alpers

within the fiction of a role portrait appears to have

1988, pp. 40, 67; Chapman 1990, pp. 114-20; Berger

been acceptable for bourgeois matrons, at least

2000, pp. 405-25. Typical of earlier romantic inter-

from mid-century; see, for example, Ferdinand Bol,

pretations is Bolton 1893, pp. 49 - 50, 63-65, for

Venus, Paris, and Cupid, 1656 (Dordrechts Museum)

whom the Dresden painting illustrates Rembrandt's

and Bacchus and Ariadne, 1664 (State Hermitage,

"Bohemian" tendencies and Saskia's salutary moral

Saint Petersburg); Blankert 1982, nos. 34, 20.

influence. For the significance of theatricality and

De Lairesse 1740, vol. 1, pp. 173- 74; see also

performance in Rembrandt's aesthetics, see Alpers

Chapman in Washington 1996, p. 18; Kettering

1988 and Berger 2000.

1997, p. 228 note 92.

14 Edinburgh 2001, p. 14. 15 Frans van Mieris, Inn Scene, 1658 (Mauritshuis, The

22 " och een cleine oostersche vrouwen troni het conterfeisel van H. Ulen burgs huijsvrouwe nae

Hague); Gabriel Metsu, Tavern Scene, 1661 (Gemalde-

Rembrant," part of a shipment of works by and after

galerie, Dresden). Kahr 1973, pp. 253, 257. For van

Rembrandt consigned to Jacobsz for sale by van

Mieris, see Naumann 1981 and further below.

Uylenburgh. See: Strauss, van der Meulen 1979,

16 See Raupp 1984, pp. 181-220; Chapman 1990, pp. 41, 118-19. 17 On the Dutch tronie, see: de Vries 1989; van der Veen

doc. 1637/4; S. A. C. Dudok van Heel, "Doopsgezinden en schilderkunst in de 17e eeuw: Leerlingen, opdrachtgevers en verzamelaars van Rembrandt,"

1997; Dagmar Hirschfelder, "Portrait or character

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen 6 (1980), pp. 106 - 8; Broos

head? The term tronie and its meaning in the seven -

1981-8~pp.251 - 52.

teenth century" in Kassel 2001, pp. 82-90, with fur-

23 Gesina's brother Moses also posed. See:

ther references. This pictorial category, a staple of

S.J. Gudlaugsson, Gerard Ter Barch, 2 vols. (The

the van Uylenburgh/ Rembrandt circle, has attracted

Hague, 1959 - 60); Gerard Ter Barch, Zwolle 1617,

increasing attention, including a symposium in The

Deventer 1681 (exh. cat. Mauritshuis, The Hague,

Hague in October 2000; see Dagmar Hirschfelder,

1974); Alison Kettering, Drawings from the Ter Barch

Hans-Joachim Raupp, '"Tronies' in de Italiaanse,

Studio Estate, 2 vols. (The Hague, 1988); Alpers 1988,

Vlaamse en

pp. 56, 139, note 56. Metsu's Tavern Scene has

ederlandse schilderkunst van de 16de

en 17de eeuw," Kunstchronik 54 (2001), pp. 197 - 202. 18 See, for example, Corpus C57 (Brera, Milan), C58



already been mentioned; in his Artist Painting a

Woman Playing a Cello (whereabouts unknown) and

(University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), C59

other works, the posing model resembles Metsu's

(Allentown Art Museum), C60 (private collection),

wife as depicted in the portrait now in Louisville; see:

C61 (private collection).

B.J. A. Renckens and J. Duyvetter, "De vrouw van


TO PAGES 27 - 29

Gabriel Metsu," Oud Holland 74 (1959), pp. 179 - 82;

30 Inventory of Martin van den Broeck (on whom see

Robinson 1974, pp. 29 - 32, 64, 78 - 79, notes 51, 118,

the essay by John Michael Montias in this volume):

122 - 23 .

"een contrefeytsel van Rembrandts vrouw, " '"t con -

24 Naumann 1981, pp. 125 - 30, pis. 30, 37-39, 41 - 42; Naumann in Philadelphia 1984, no. 75 (Teasing the

van der Meulen 1979, doc . 1647/ 1). Inventory of

Pet, 1660; Mauritshuis, The Hague), discusses fusion

Abraham Bartjes, a French teacher: "Twee efigien

of genre and portraiture; Leiden 1988, nos. 23, 24,

van den constrijcken schilder Rembrandt met sijn

25. Another parallel is Suzanna, elder sister of

vrouw" (ibid ., doc. 1648/ 7). Inventory of the widow

Rubens's second wife, Helene Fourment, who posed

ofLouys Crayers, former guardian of Rembrandt's

several times for Rubens, most famously in the so -

son Titus: "Een conterfeytsel van Rembrandt van

ca lled Chapeau de Paille (National Gallery, London),

Rijn en sijn huysvrouw" (Corpus vol. 3, p. 146; not

a portrait that borders provocatively on pastoral

the Dresden Prodigal Son, as suggested by some



25 Van Mander 1994, vol. 1, pp. 156 - 57; vol. 3, p. 138.


trefeytsel van Rembrant," and other works (Strauss,

31 As noted by Lloyd -Williams in Edinburgh 2001, p.

Miedema notes that no such paintings by Vermeyen

14: "on the evidence of paintings that have survived,

survive, but he cites the series of exotic costume

there is no reason to suppose that [those mentioned

prints etched in 1545 - 46.

in the inventories) would have been formal portraits

Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, 1519 (Metropolitan

of the pair in contemporary dress. "

Museum of Art, New York), based on a drawing of

32 The entrepreneurial spirit of Dutch women was

Agnes in the Albertina, Vienna. See recently:

frequently noticed by foreign visitors; see Schama

Grossinger 1997, pp. 63 - 64; Wolfram Prinz, Diirer

1987, pp. 402 - 8; A. Th. van Deursen, Plain Lives in

( ew York, 1998), pp. 132 - 33. The spontaneity of

a Colden Age (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 82 - 84; E. de

Durer's earlier sketch of his wife as a young bride,

Jongh in Edinburgh 2001, p. 31. Of course, posing

labeled "Mein Agnes" (1494, Albertina, Vienna),

of family members was not lim ited to Holland; for

anticipates Rembrandt's silverpoint Saskia.

instance, Simon Vouet painted his wife, Virginia da

27 Eric Jan Sluijter, '"All in general striving to adorn

Vezzo, also an artist, as Mary Magdalene, in a paint-

their houses with costly peeces ' : Two case studies

ing now in the Los Angeles County Museum.

of paintings in wealthy interiors" in Art and Home:

Statistical analysis might show whether wifely par-

Dutch Interiors in the Age of Rembrandt (exh. cat.

ticipation was especi ally common, or more openly

Newark Art Museum, 2001), p. 110; see also Leiden

acknowledged, in Dutch studios.

1988, p. 133. Van Mieris's Teasing the Pet, 1660 (The

33 See, for example, John Shearman, Only Connect:

Hague) was recogni zed as a likeness of the artist

Art and the Spectator in the Italian Renaissance

and his wife by Coenrad Baron Droste, its owner in

(Princeton, 1988), pp. 108 - 148; Patricia Simons,

1717; Philadelphia 1984, p. 258; Leiden 1988, no. 23.

"Portraiture, portrayal, and ideali zation: Ambiguous

28 See the annotated maps in Schwartz 1985, p. 135; Berlin 1991, pp. 62-63. 29 Des cribed as "De Vrouw va n Rembrand, door

individualism in represenlations of Renaissance women " in Language and Images of Renaissance Italy, edited by Alison Brown (Oxford, 1995), pp. 263

Rembrand geschilderd, krachtig en heerlyk uit-

- 311; Cranston 2000. On ekphrasis and female por-

gevoe rd" in Six's estate sale of 1702, when it passed

traiture, see also Nancy Vickers, "Diana described:

to his son Nicolaes . Identification with the Kassel

Scattered woman and scattered rhyme, " in Writing

painting is supported by a more detailed description

and Sexual Difference, edited by E. Abel (Chicago,

in the inventory of Valerius Rover, who must h ave

1982), pp. 95 - 109; Rogers 1986; Claire Pace,

acquired it at the Willem Six sal e in 1734. Strauss, van

'"Delineated lives': Themes and variations in seven -

der Meulen 1979, doc. 1652/7, 1658/ 16; Corpus A85.

teenth-century poems about portraits," Word and


OTES TO PAGE S 29 - 31

Im age 2 (1986), pp. 1-17; Richard Wendorf, The

by a more approachable ideal. On the role of gender

Elements of Life: Biography and Portrait-Painting

in literary constructions or artistic id en ti Ly, see

in Stuart and Georgian England (Oxford, 1990),

Stephens 1998, pp. 8-14.

pp. 89-98 (with extensive references). 34 An insightful study is Erica Harlh, Ideology and

39 Joost van den Vondel, "Op Mejoffer Margriete Tulp, Huisvrouwe van Joan Six, door Govert Flinck

Culture in Seventeenth-Century France (Ithaca,

geschilderd," composed 1656, published 1660; see

1983), pp. 68-128. The basic survey of the Dutch

Vondel: Volledige dichtwerken en oorspronkelijk

portrait historie is slill Wishnevsky 1967; see

proza, edited by Alberl Verwey (Amsterdam, 1986),

further: Kettering 1977, Kellering 1983, Kettering

p. 831. Six's blood races and he is moved to kiss the


portrait (a trope familiar to earlier writers such as

35 For Petrarch and Pygmalion, see Canzoniere 78.

Castiglione). The poem probably refers to the paint-

Rembrandt's etching, The Artist Drawing from a

ing of 1655 in the Six Collection, Amsterdam, or the

Model (ca. 1638, Bartch 192), was nicknamed

version now in Kassel (see Haarlem 1986, no. 8); in

"Pygmalion" in the eighteenth century and may

both, Margaretha stands in a rosy garden of love, a

derive from an etching of that subject by Peter

setting familiar to m a rriage portraits. The power of

Feddes van Harlingen. See recently: Amsterdam

a portrait to inspire love is a courtly convention pic-

2000, no. 36; Edinburgh 2001, no. 75.

tured in, for instance, Rubens's Maria de' Medici

36 Pliny, Natura/is Historia 35.123-27. Glycera is credited with inventing the lloral chaplet or wreath. The

40 Mauritshuis, The Hague; see: Julius S. Held,

traditional identification of a painting by Rubens

"Constantijn Huygens and Susanna van Baerle: A

and Osias Beert (Ringling Museum, Sarasota), as

hitherto unknown portrait," Art Bu/Jetin 73 (1991),

Pausias and Clycera is unconvincingly disputed by

pp. 653 -68; Frits

William H. Wilson, Catalogue of the Flemish and

ing a music sheet: A recently discovered portrait

Dutch Paintings 1400 - 1900 (Sarasota, 1980), no. 40.

of Constantijn Huygens and Susanna van Baerle,"

As noted by Wilson, Glycera appears as a compan-

Tijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse

ion of the muse Calliope in van Hoogstraten 1678,

Muziekgeschiedenis 42 (1992), pp. 131-40. Like

opposite p. 277. Other allusions to this theme may

Rembrandt, Huygens lost his wife after only a

well be discovered among pastoral depictions of

decade; Susanna died in 1637 from complications


following the birth of their fifth child. Dagh -werck

37 Sluijter 2000 (seep. 141 for van Mander's descrip-

oske, "Two unpaired hands hold-

was completed as an elegy after her death and pub-

tion of Hugo van der Goes's exceptionally lifelike

lished in 1658; see Dagh-werck van Constantijn

painting of a girl with whom he was in love).

Huygens, edited by F. L. Zwaan (Assen, 1973); for

38 On Dutch occasional verse and its sources, see

a partial English translation, see Peter Davidson

M.A. Schenkeveld-van der Dussen, "Poezie als

and Adriaan van der Wee!, eds., A Selection of the

gebruiksartikel: Gelegenheidsgedichten in de zeven-

Poems of Sir Constantijn Huygens (1596 - 1687)

tiende eeuw," and K. Porteman, "Gesc hreven met

(Amsterdam, 1996), pp. 94 - 111.

de linkerhand? Letteren tegenover schilderkunst

41 Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1652/7, 1658/ 18;

in de Couden Eeuw," in Historische letterkunde:

Corpus A85; H. de la Fontaine Verwey, "De

Facetten van vakbeoefening, edited by Marijke Spies

geschiedenis van het Amsterdamse Caesar hand-

(Groningen, 1984), pp. 75 - 113. On Petrarchism and

schrift," Jaarboek Amstelodamum 67 (1975), pp. 89-

Dutch paintings of women, see: Kettering 1977,

93 [on Six]. On Saskia's costume, see Marieke de

Kettering 1997a, Kettering 1997b. Rogers 1986

Winkel in Edinburgh 2001, pp. 62-63.

shows that by 1485 - 1550 in Italy, the unattainable Petrarchan mistress was already being replaced


cycle (1622-25, Louvre, Paris).

42 Sandrart recorded Titian's Flora in the collection of Alfonso Lopez, who also owned Raphael's Baldesar


Castiglione (Louvre, Paris) and Titian's Man in Blue

Rubens (versions in Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum,

(National Gallery, London), both influ e nti a l for

Braunschweig, and Palazzo Vecchio, Florence) is

Rembrandt's Self-Portrait at Age 34 (National

usually cited as the antecedent to Rembrandt's

Gallery, London). See: E. M. Bloch, "Rembrandt and

abandoned compos iti on (see, for example: London

the Lopez co ll ection," Gazette des Beaux-Arts 29

1988, p. 62; Berlin 1991, p. 188; Edinburgh 2001,

(1946), pp. 175-86; Chapman 1990, pp. 74, 93;

p. 116), but Rubens's characters are clearly generic

Dickey 1994, pp. 105-200. As noted in Edinburgh


2001, p. 208, the verse in scribed on Sandrart's print impli es that Titian's model was also his lover. Pieter

further, obscuring her identity (and his?) altogether.

van Thiel in Berlin 1991, p. 190, rightly emph asizes

Psychoanalytical readings of threatening fema le

the portrait-like character of the Dresden painting.

prototypes, such as Delilah, in Rembrandt's work

43 On the classical tradition assoc iating women, flowers, and love, see Held 1961. On the carnation, see Smith 1982, pp. 59-63, 77. Rembrandt gives a car-

are intriguing but speculative; see, for examp le: Kahr 1973; Bal 1991. 48 Seven paintings, of which six survive (Alte

nation to another wife in Portrait of a Woman with

Pinakothek, Munich): Corp us A65, A69, A 118, A 126,

a Pink, pendant to Man with a Magnifying Glass

A127. For a concise summary, see Berlin 1991, no. 13.

(Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; see

49 The debate over whether this painting represents

New York 1995, pp. 81-85). In the Dresden painting,

the mythological goddess Flora, an arcadian s hep-

flowers are scattered on a tab le at left-the begin-

herdess, or a conflation of the two is tangential to

ning of one of Glycera's wreaths? (See note 36

the present discussion. See: Margaret Louttit, "The

above.) The laying of a hand on th e breast was a

romantic dress of Saskia van Ulenborch: Its pastoral

rhetorical affirmation of faith or veracity, common

and theatrical associations," Burlington Magazine

in portraits of preachers, such as Rembrandt's

115 (1973), pp. 317-26; Kettering 1977, pp. 22-27;

Portrait of Johannes Wtenbogaert (Rijksmuseum,

Kettering 1983, pp. 58-62; Corpus A93 [alludes to


trends in The Hague and Utrecht, p. 500], Corp us

44 First recorded in a French co llection in 1742; Corpus


47 Alpers 1988, p. 56. It appears Rembrandt has gone

vol. 3, A112; P. van Thiel in Berlin 1991, pp.188-91;

A142. On Rubens's painting (Vienna), see Julius

M. de Winkel in Edinburgh 2001, pp. 62-63.

S. Held, "Rubens' Het Pelsken" in Essays in the

On Rembrandt's drawings of costumed characters

History of Art Presented to Rudolf Wittkower

from the Amsterdam theater, see: H. van de Waal,

(London, 1967), pp. 188-92, and recently Schama

"Rembrandt at Vondel's Tragedy Gijsbreght van

1999, pp. 453-54, 501. Held 1961, p. 218, attributes

Aemstel" in Miscellanea I. Q. van Regteren Altena

a mood of conjuga l intimacy to Rembrandt's Saskia

(Amsterdam, 1969), pp. 145-49, 338-40; Ben

as well.

Albach, "Een tekening van het Amsterdamse toneel

Christopher Brown, "Rembrandt's Saskia as Flora

in 1638," Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis (1972),

x-rayed" in Essays in Northern European Art

pp. 111-25; on female characters, also Edinburgh

Presented to Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann on His

2001, pp. 146-47, nos. 66, 67. On the performative

Sixtieth Birthday (Doornspijk, 1983), pp. 49-51;

nature of Saskia's role, see Alpers 1988, pp. 55-56;

London 1988, pp. 58-65. See also Corpus A93,

and Berger 2000, p. 417. The basic study of Dutch

A 112; Berlin 1991, no. 23; Edinburgh 2001, nos. 27,

pastoral imagery is Kettering 1983. Wishnevsky 1967,

36, pp.17, 62 - 63, 104, 116.

pp. 160-92 lists arcadian portraits, but some of h er

46 Filippo Baldinucci, Notizie de' professori de/ disegno,

examples are clearly generic tronies (for example,

edited by F. Ranalli (Firenze, 1845-47), vol. 3,

Dirck Santvoort, Shepherd Boy and Shepherd Girl,

pp. 717 -38 [cited by M. Chappell in Dictionary of

1632, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam).

Art (London, 1996), vol. 1, pp. 67 1- 73]. A Judith by

On Rembrandt, see also: Kettering 1977; Nevitt 1997.



50 Paulus Moreelse, Sophia Hedwig, Countess of

gallery where there is bright light" ("op de galdeerij

Nassau Dietz, as Caritas (1621, Paleis Het Loo,

van S exc'll salt best te toonen sijn alsoo daer een

Apeldoorn) is one of the earliest examples of a

starck light is"); Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc.

courtly role portrait by an Utrecht artist; see

1636/2. These comments imply familiarity with the

Kettering 1997b, fig. 6-1. Honthorst portrayed

rooms and display of art at the court. Rembrandt's

Amalia, Elizabeth, and their daughters and friends

Portrait of Amalia van Sol ms (Musee Jacquemart-

as goddesses (Diana, Minerva) and biblical charac-

Andre, Paris), a profile half-length in contemporary

ters (Esther), as well as in arcadian or fancy dress;

dress, was once thought to depict Saskia (see:

see Judson, Ekkart 1999, nos. 298, 309-12, 332, 333,

Corpus A61; The Hague 1997, pp. 135, 138).

337, 339, 365, 374, 380. On Frederik Hendrik's col-

54 Compare the oval Portrait of Saskia (?) (1633,

lections, see recently: The Hague 1997; The Hague

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Corpus A75; Edinburgh

1997a, especially Marieke Tiethoff-Spliethoff, "Role-

2001, no. 25) with half-lengths of Amalia and

play and representation: Portrait painting at the

Elizabeth by Honthorst (Judson, Ekkart 1999,

court of Frederik Hendrik and Amalia," pp. 161-84.

nos. 309, 312, 337).

51 M.A. Schenkeveld-van der Dussen, review of

55 For Flinck, see Moltke 1965: fancy dress or arcadian

Kettering 1983 in Sirnio/us 14 (1984), p. 232;

figures, nos. 139, 142, 342, 361, 379, 390, 392, 412,

Kettering 1997b.

414; goddesses (portrait or tronie?), nos. 80, 88, 102.

52 For figure 14, see Judson, Ekkart 1999, no. 309 (also

For Bol, Blankert 1982, nos. 126, 128, 142, 143, 144,

nos. 310, 374). Van Dyckian influence becomes

169, 173, 175; in nos . 133, 134, and 135, Bol uses the

stronger in portraits after 1640, such as Louise

same format but three distinct models, recalling the

Hollandine, Princess Palatin e, as Diana (1643,

portrait practice of repeating stock poses for differ-

Centraal Museum, Utrecht; ibid ., no. 365). On van

ent sitters, but with more tronie-like costume and

Dyckian dress, see recently Emilie Gordenker,

format (a female figure in antiquated dress leaning

Anthony van Dy ck (1599 - 1641) and the

through a window) . Wybrand de Geest (Saskia's

Representation of Dress in Seventeenth -Century

cousin-in-law) produced arcadian portraits of chil-

Portraiture (Turnhout, 2001). On the Dutch reaction ,

dren in Friesland (see Lyckle de Vries, Wybrand de

see also: Kettering 1997, Kettering 1997a, Kettering

Geest [Leeuwarden, 1982], p. 18, nos. 7, 8, dated


1645) as did Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp in Dordrecht (por-

53 See: Judson, Ekkart 1999, no. 236; The Hague 1997a, p. 187, pl. 174. This portrait bears a striking resemblence to a Flora painted in Madrid in 1627 b y Juan

Museum, Cologne). 56 Inscribed on a red chalk drawing of about 1637 after

vander Hamen (Prado, Madrid), associated with

a "Susanna" by Rembrandt's own teacher, Peter

Spanish pastoral poetry by William B. Jordan,

Lastman (Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin); Benesch 448;

Spanish Still Life in th e Golden Age 1600 - 1650

Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, pp. 594 - 95: undated

(exh. cat. Kimbell Arl Mus eum, Fort Worth, 1985),

doc. 3. See also: Broos 1981 - 82, p. 257; Corpus A93;

pp. 121, 144 - 46, no. 22, repr. In a letter of February

New York 1995, p. 92. Copies of Rembrandt's paint-

1636 to the stadhouder's secretary Constantijn

ings w ere also sold : a n oval half-length copy of the

Hu ygens concerning the recentl y delivered

1634 Flora (private collection; Amsterdam 1983,

Ascension (Corpus A 118), Rembrandt writes, "I

no. IV; Corpus vol. 2, p . 502); Saskia in a Red Hat

agree that I should come soon to see how the picture

(Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp; Corpus

accords with the rest." ("soo ist dat ick goet vinden

vol. 3, pp. 433, 438).

dat ick corts volgen sal om te besien hoe dat het


trait of two children dated 1638; Wallraf-Richartz-

57 New York 1995, no. 22, with further references. The

stucken met de rest voucht. ") and recommends that

painting is falsely signed and dated, "Rembrandt

"It will show to best advantage in His Excellency's



58 Shepherd (Rembrandt?) (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) a nd Shepherdess (Saskia?J (Herzog Anton Ulri ch

1997) [on Remb randt's influence: pp. 210 - 11). See

Muse um, Braunschweig); Moltke 1965, nos. 130,

also Karel van Mand er 1604, fol. 290r, on Hans van

140; Amsterdam 1983, no. 33; see also under Corpus

Aa chen (as cited by Schwartz 1985, p. 192).

A93 . Similar issues are ra ised by the many tronies

65 In 1661, Frans van Mi e ri s posed his wife as Pi ctura,

from Rembrandt's circle depicting a male figure

holding a lo aded p alette a nd other attributes (J. Paul

with Re mbrandt-es que features: are they co pies of

Getty Mus eum, Los Angeles). Gabriel Mets u posed

se lf-port ra its or generic types that cap italize on the

hi s wife as an artist at work in her studio (Young

master's fascination with his own likeness? Already

Lady Drawing, ca. 1657, National Gallery, London) .

in Le id e n, Rembrandt and Lievens were apparently

For the icon og ra ph y of Pi ctura, see Sluijter 1998 and

posing for each other; see Jan Li evens's Po rtra it of

Sluijter 2000. The refe rence to the beloved as the

Rembrandt (on loan to Rijksm use um, Amsterd am;

writer's other or better self is, of co urse, a familiar

Boston 2000, no . 7).

literary conventio n. Step he ns 1998, pp. 8-9, notes

59 See especially: Chapman 1990; London 1999; a ls o

that in post-Petrarachan love poetry, in s piration

Alpers 1988; Berger 2000; Stephanie S. Dickey, review

was sometimes co nceived as a feminine principle

of London 1999, in Art Bulletin 82 (2000), pp. 366-69.

resident in the male psyche of the poet.

60 Corpus A76; Edinburgh 2001, no . 21. 61

W estermann, The Amusements of Jan Steen (Zwolle,

66 See a lso: White 1999, pp. 124-25; Edinburgh 2001,

Ha arlem 1986, pp. 15, 18; Ed inburgh 2001, p. 92.

p . 13. On Rembra ndt's portrait etching s, see:

Co rpu s A76 cites Karel van Mand er's advice that a

Amsterd am 1986; White 1999, pp. 113 - 69;

"friendly laughing glance" should be depicted to

Amsterdam 2000; Dickey 1994, and forthcoming

co nvey the emotions of lovers (van Mander 1604:


Schilderboek 6.7), but prefers to read this painting

67 See: de Hoop Scheffer, Boon 1971, nos. 10, 47, 53,

as a warn ing against vanity. On women, portraiture,

58; Erik Hinterding, "The history of Rembra ndt's

and tears, see Dickey 1995 .

copperplates with a cata log ue of those that survive,"

62 Malle Babbe (ca. 1633 - 35, Gem a ld egalerie, Berlin). See also, for example, Honthorst, Smiling Girl

Simiolus 22 (1993-94).

68 Fo r instance, Arthur M. Hind, Rembrandt's Etchin gs

Holding an Obscene Im age (Sa int Louis Art

(London, 1912), p. 111 (no. 127), noted that the Great

Mu seum; Judson, Ekkart 1999, no. 215) .

Jewish Bride of 1635 was once thought to represent

63 See: Raupp 1984, pp. 181 - 220; Chapman 1990,

the daughter of Ephraim Bonus (hence its nick -

pp. 41, 48 - 50, 85, 91, 149, note 71. Closest in format

name), and finds Charles Blanc's suggestion of

to th e Saskia is the portrait of Rembrandt in a steel

Saskia "not unreasonable. " Saskia is not associated

gorget an d feathered cap, looking back over his

w ith the print by Gersaint 1751 (no. 311), Daul by

should er (Mauritshuis, The Hag ue), w hich, if cor-

(no. 311), Bartsc h (no. 340) or, more recently, White,

rectly rejected by the Rembrandt Research Project

Boon 1969 (no. 340), but White 1999, p. 125, identi -

(Corpus C98), is still likely to be a studio version of

fies the model as Saskia and Martin Royalton-Kisc h

a Rembrandt original. Contrary to the assertion of

(Amsterdam 2000, pp. 140 - 44) co nsiders this "o ne

Corpus vol. 3, p. 630, t hat Rembrandt himself never

of Rembrandt's most directly descriptive portraits"

used the pose of the head turned back over the

of her. In my view, Corpus vol. 3, p. 173 (under

s houlder, it figures in several etc hin gs (for example,

A 114), rightly associates the etching with the 1635

Self-Portrait with Bushy Hair, ca . 163 1, Bartsch 8),

Minerva (Otto

and, as mentioned above, in the Prodigal Son.

Bellona, seems to depict a blonder, heavier model.

64 W allraf-Richartz-Museum, Co logne (London 1999,

a um a nn, New York), which, like th e

Saskia with Pearls in Her Hair (1634, Bartsch 347)

no. 82; see a lso nos. 22, 43). For Jan Steen's comedic

was described as "Femme coiffee en cheveux" by

persona, see Washington 1996, pp. 11-24; M ariet

Gersaint 1751 (no. 316) and Bartsch 1797, but as


OTE S TO PAGE S 41 - 44

"The Artist's Wife" by Daulby 1796 (no. 316), and

portraits clans un meme planche reconnus pour etre

has been Saskia ever since, until Edinburgh 2001,

ceux de Rembrandt & de sa femme, graves par lui -

p. 112, reverted to a generic description.

meme. " Gersaint also men Lions, and recogni zes as a

69 See: Joachim Gaus, "Ingeniurn und Ars: Das

fraud , the pastiche in which Saskia is replaced wilh

Ehepaarbildnis Lavoisier von David und die

Rembrandt's mother (see a lso London 1999, p. 162,

Ikonographie der Museninspiralion," Wallraf-

fig. 46a).

Rich artz-Jahrbuch 36 (1974), pp. 199 - 228; Smith

1982a; Smith 1982, pp. 126 - 44; Haarlem 1986, no. 36

and the signalure burnished out; see: White, Boon

[Jan de Bray]; London 1999, no. 46; Edinburgh 2001,

1969, no. 367; Berlin 1991a, no. 12; Amsterdam 2000,

pp. 13, 121, no. 40.

no. 29.

70 Haarlem 1986, pp. 204 -5; see also pp. 98 - 101, 202 - 4


75 De Hoop Scheffer, Boon 1971, nos. 73: "s tudieblad

for examples by Dirck Jacobsz, 1541 (Amsterdams

met ses hoofden," and 74: "studieblad met drie

Historisch Museum), and allribuled to the

hoofden " (possibly Bartsch 367); two other items,

Val e nciennes Monogrammist, ca. 1530s (Groninger

nos. 16: "eenige tronitjens," and 39: "drie tronit-

Museum, Groningen). Rembrandt's and Saskia's

j ens, " may relate to Lhe sketches of women's heads.

gazes have been see n Lo co nvey intimacy, privacy

76 See: Berlin 1991a, no. 12 (etchings); New York 1995,

and confrontation; see: Smith 1982, p. 283; Berger

no . 86; White 1999, p. 131; Amsterdam 2000, no. 29;

2000, pp. 397 - 99.

Edinburgh 2001, no. 62. On artists' model books, see

See also Schama 1999, p. 371. Con ce ptually related

Bolten 1985. To my knowledge, the first modern

to Rembrandt's etching is Bartholomeus Spranger's

sc holar to describe Rembrandt's penchant for

M a nnerist allegory of himself with a portrait of his

"printed drawings" was Egbert Haverkamp

deceased wife Christina Mull er, engraved by

Begemann, in several lectures of the 1980s.

Aegidius Sadeler in 1600(Dickey 1994, p. 121). On

77 Gersaint 1751, p. 258, no. 331.

Lhes e antecedents, see: David La ndau and Peter

78 See: Berlin 1991a, p. 198; White 1999, p. 131;

Parshall, The Renaissa nce Print 1470 - 1550 (New

Amsterdam 2000, pp. 154 - 56. White, Boon 1969,

Haven, 1994), pp. 56 -57; Hans Mi elke, Manierismus

followi ng the Lilies used by Bartsch, li st Bartsch 365

in Holland (exh. cal. Kupferslichkabinett, Berlin,

as Studies of the H ead of Saskia and Oth ers, Barlsch

1979), no. 42; Sluijter 1998, pp. 180 -81.

367 as Three Heads of Women: One Lightly Etched,

72 For th e plumed hal, see Chapman 1990, pp. 48 -50, 85, 91, 149 note 71. In con trast Lo Saskia's pass ive posing, wives in double portraits were often

and Bartsch 368 as Three Heads of Women: One Asleep. See also Edinburgh 2001, nos. 62 - 64.

79 For example, Ferdinand Bol, Holy Family, 1643

assigned feminine activities, or allributes th ereof,

(elching, Bartsch 4 [Mary]); Nicolaes Maes, Abraham

such as sewing or reading.

Dismissing Hagar and Ishmael, 1653 (Metropolitan

73 See: Chapman 1990, pp . 82; Smith 1982, pp. 139 - 40;

Museum of Arl, New York [Hagar]). See New York

Cynthia P. Schneider, "Re mbrandt reversed:

1995, nos. 52, 104. See also Rembrandt's sketch of

Reflections on the early self-portrait etchings" in

four female figures, including a mother cradling a

Shop Talk: Studies in Ho nor of Seymour Slive

baby, in the Muse um Boijmans Van Beuningen,

(Cambridge, 1995), pp. 224 - 26; London 1999, p. 162;

Rotterdam (B enesch 360; Edinburgh 2001, no. 61).

Schama 1999, pp. 371 - 72; Berger 2000, pp. 397-402.


74 There is a third state, in which the plate is polished

80 Baptized 15 Decembe r 1635, buried 15 February

Mirrors ca n dislorl Lh e relative size of objects seen

1636 (Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1635/6,

from a distance; this may account for the discrep -

1636/ 3); for other children, see ibid., doc. 1638/8,

ancy in scale between Lhe figures . Gersaint 1751,

1638/9, 1640/5, 1640/6, 1641/4. Handkerchiefs,

pp. 12 - 13, the first Lo id entify Lhe sitters, already

besides connoting weallh, were used for wiping

hints at the disjunctive nalure of the imag e: "deu x

away tears; see Dickey 1995.



Compare Albrecht Durer's drawing of his aged wife

Haverkamp Begemann who as discussant helped me

Agnes, back-to-back wiLh a lovely girl from Cologne,

refine my thinking on several poinLs. A number or atlen-

in Lhe

dees al Lhe conference also asked penetrating and help-

etherlands skeLchbook of 1520 (A lbertina,

Vienna). See: H . Wo lfflin, Drawings of Albrecht

fu l questions, for which I thank Lhem co ll ectively. I am

Durer (New York, 1970), fig. 58; Grossinger 1997,

sim ilarly indebled Lo my colleagues al the UniversiLy or

pp. 63-64. Sluijter 1998 discusses several self-por-

Houston and Rice University, in particular Theresa

traiLs (Bailly, van Swanenburgh) where the painter

Papanikolas, who kindly invited me to present an earlier

juxLaposes younger and older versions of himself.

version of this paper Lo Lhe Deparlment of ArL and ArL

82 For furLher didactic examples, see Bolten 1985. On Rembrandt and the non finito in prinLmaking, see:

History at Rice. All Lranslalions, unless otherwise noted, are my own.

Dickey 1986; Scallen 1992. 83 PieLer de Jode the Younger, Varie figure academiche


The four paintings are Samson and Delilah (dated

(AnLwerp, 1629), pl. 3. Bolten 1985, pp. 90-95, fig. b.

1628 but probably painted ca. 1629-30), Samson

See also Ger Luijten in Anthony van Dyck as a

Threatening His Father-in-Law (probably painted in

Printmaker (exh. cat. AnLwerp, Amsterdam, 1999),

1635), both works in the Gemaldegalerie, Berlin,

p. 350 (compares with prinLs afLer van Dyck); and

The Blinding of Samson (dated 1636; fig. 26), and

idem in Amsterdam 2000, pp. 153 -55. On direct

The Wedding Feast of Samson (dated 1638). See

address, see: Raupp 1984, p. 244, note 333; Alfred

respectively Corpus A24, A 109, A 116, A 123.

Neumeyer, Der Blick aus dem Bi/de (Berlin, 1964).


84 Edinburgh 2001, pp. 30-31, 37-53. See also:

Only two exlanl pain Lings conform roughly Lo Lhe dimensions given in Rembrandt's letter to Huygens:

Schama 1999 for comparison wiLh Rubens; Slive

The Blinding of Samson and Danae (Hermitage, Saint

1953 and Emmens 1968 on Lhe classicist critique of

Petersburg). Since Lhe latter was still listed among

Rembrandt. Similar issues arose in England, where

Rembrandt's possessions in 1656, the authors of the

Lhe penchant for portraiLure complicated adherence

Corpus vol. 3, pp. 192 -94, infer Lhat the Blinding

Lo Lhe idea li zing convenLions of classical figure

may well have been the painting sent to Huygens. A

drawing; see Ilaria Bignamini and Martin Postle,

confus ing set of references to Samson pain Lings in

The Artist's Model: !ts Role in British Art from Lely to

Lhe collection of Lhe House of Orange is worth men -

Etty (exh. cat. UniversiLy Art Gallery, Nottingham,

tioning in this context. The 1707-19 inventory of the

1991); and the review by William Vaughan in Art

Prince of Orange's palace at Honselaersdijk lists a

History 15 (1992), pp. 263-64.

"Sa mson en Dalila van Rembrandt" (Drossaers,

85 See especially Emmens 1979, pp. 209-20; also

Lunsingh Scheurleer 1974, vol. 1, p. 523). When this

Dickey 1986. Several RembrandL pupils made pen

work entered the col lection, and whether iL is idenli -

and ink sketches of the same male models (see

cal with the painting in Berlin, is unknown. A 1632

recently Amsterdam 2000, no. 51).

inventory of the prince's residence in The Hague lisls "Ee n stuxken schilderie daer Sampson hel hayr wert affgesneden, door Jan Lievensz. tot Leyden

H. Rodn ey N e vitt , Jr .: Brid a l

gemaeckt." (ibid., pp. 184-86), which some scholars

D ec orum and Dang e rous L ooks:

think to be a misidentification of the same painLing

R e mbrandt 's W e dding Feas t of

given to Rembrandt in the laler inventory. Others

Sa m s on (1638)

have taken Lhe 1632 document to refer to a different painting by Lievens, probably the grisaille panel of

I wish to thank Michael Zell and Alan Chong for inviting me Lo present this paper at the RembrandL conference al the Gardner Museum. I am grateful to Egbert

The Capture of Samson (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).


More recent commentaries on this passage from Judges have never qui le dispelled its enigmatic



quality. Some biblical scholars maintain that Samson's

Johannes Vermeer (exh. cat.

riddle was indeed meant to be insoluble, though

Washington, 1995), p. 31; and H. Rodney Nevitt, Jr.,

J. R. Porter, "Samson's riddle: Judges XIV.14, 18,"

"Vermeer on the question of love" in The Cambridge

Journal of Theological Studies 13 (1962), pp. 106-9,

Companion to Vermeer, edited by Wayne Franits

has suggested that in its original linguistic form it

(Cambridge, 2001), pp. 90, 201 note 3. The costumes

may have been considered soluble because it alluded

in the Wedding Feast of Samson would likely have

to well-known proverbial sayings (for example, the

been understood as a variant of "the antique" which

lion as a conventional symbol of "the strong" and

Rembrandt seems to have based in part on Persian

honey as the epitome of"sweetness"). Similarly, Philip

and Moghul drawings; see Slatkes 1983, pp. 13-58.

Nel, "The riddle of Samson (Judg 14, 14.18)," Biblica




Heemskerck was first cited in connection with

words for honey and lion are homonyms, which

Rembrandt's Wedding Feast of Samson by Josua

may have been taken as a clue to solving the riddle.

Bruyn, Rembrandts keuze van bijbelse onderwerpen

English translation in Corpus vol. 3, pp. 256-57.

(Utrecht, 1959), p. 17. On this engraving, see also

The Dutch text reads:

Ilja Veldman, compiler, Maarten van Heemskerck,

Onder alle heb ick van Rembrandt eens een

Part I, The

Simsons-Bruyloft uytghbeelt ghesien, waer van wy

Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts 1450-1700

lesen by [Iudicum?J Indicum 14.Cap vers. 10. Daer

(Roosendaal, 1993), p. 86, no. 87. The 1656 inventory

kond'men uyt bemercken hoe die kloecke Geest,

of Rembrandt's possessions lists a book of"all the

door sijn hooge naghedachte die hy hier ontrent de

work" of van Heemskerck (Strauss, van der Meulen

eygenlickheyt van 't aensiLLen, (of beter te segghen,

1979, doc. 1656/12, no. 227). 9

ew Hollstein: Dutch and Flemish

Slatkes 1983, pp. 37, 115 note 48, cites an old refer-

genomen had: want de Oude ghebruyckte

ence to a painting by Gabriel Metsu -of uncertain

Beddekens daerse op lag hen, en [sy?J fy en facten

date and no longer extant- depicting "Samsons

niet gelijckerwijs wy nu aen Tafel sitten, maer

Raetsel," sold at auction in Amsterdam, 6 April

lag hen op haer ellebooghe, ghelijck sulcx noch in

1695, as the only known example of another seven-

die Landen ghebruycklick is onder de Turcken het

teenth-century Dutch painting on the theme of

welcke hy seer aerdelick verthoont hadd.

Samson telling the riddle.

English translation in Corpus vol. 3, p. 257. The

I do not see any necessary connection (composi-

Dutch text reads:

tionally or in terms of specific motifs) between the

sulcx kondmen bespeuren aen sijn handen; want

engraving after van Heemskerck of The Wedding

met sijn rechter duym en middelste vinger had ' hy

of Samson and Rembrandt's painting. It is worth

de flincke middel-vingher ghevat; een ghewoonlicke

noting, however, that two prints from the van

doch seer natuyrlicke acte wanneer yemandt aen

Heemskerck series on Samson - The Wedding of

een and er wat door reden wil voorstellen.

Samson (Hollstein 87) and Samson and Delilah

English translation in Corpus vol. 3, p. 257. The

(Hollstein 89)-contain respectively, as small back-

Dutch text reads:

ground details, the exceedingly rare subjects of

en niet te min schoon de beweginge soo ware, als

Samson's wedding feast and the blinding of Samson,

die in onse hedendaechse Feeste ghevonden wer-

both of which would be depicted by Rembrandt.

den, soo had' hy niet te min onderscheyt genoech

Perhaps these engravings then played a role-were

gemaect dat mense uyt onse Bruyd-lofs-Feeste wel

the germ of the idea-for Rembrandt's innovalive

onderscheyden konden.

Samson iconography of the 1630s.

On this terminology, see: Albert Blankert, "Vermeer's modern themes and their tradition" in


Corpus vol. 3, p. 255. The engraving after van

66 (1985), pp. 534-45, has noted that the Hebrew

het aenlegghen) der Gaslen aen Tafel waer



ational Gallery of Art,

10 For Vaenius's pain Ling, see Corpus vol. 3, p. 255. Vaenius's painting was first mentioned in connec-


tion with Rembrandt's Wedding Feast by Carl ordenfalk, "Some facts about Rembrandt's Claudius Civilis," Konsthistorisk Tidskrift 25 (1956), pp. 71-93, esp. p. 79. Sadeler's engraving after Barendsz. was first cited as a source for Rembrandt

eye contact with the viewer as the bride does in Rembrandt's painting. 18 "Maer ons bruijt neemt nu van dansen verdrach, I Trouwens, tis oock best, want sij ghaet vol en soete." 19 Cats 1625, section "Bruyt," signature 22:

by Tl.impel 1984, pp. 186 ff. On Barendsz's drawing

Nu vrijers, scheyter af: hier is niet meer te vanghen,

of Manldnd before the LastJudgment, dated 1581,

Neemt elders, gragen hoop, neemt elders uwe

see The Age of Bruegel: Netherlandish Drawings in the Sixteenth Century (exh. cat. National Gallery of

Art, Washington, 1986), no. 10. 11 I am following Carolyn Logan's dating of Rembrandt's drawing (New York 1995, no. 56). The comparison between Rembrandt's Wedding Feast

gangen: Hier dient niet meer gevraecht, niet meer te zijn gesocht, Knap handen vande ban ck; dit vlees dat is verkocht. 20. Cats 1625, signature 22 - 22v: I


of Samson and Leonardo's Last Supper has been

Ghy hebt u reyne trouw aen uwen vnent gegeven,

made by a number of scholars; this is summarized in

Leyt dan, tot zijnder eer, een afgesondert !even;

Corpus vol. 3, p. 254.

Onthout u van het volck, en hout de sinnen stil;

12 A painting of a wedding feast with figures in antique

Ghy hebt van nu voortaen geen macht op uwen wil.

costume, apparently a historicized portrait of unknown sitters, dated 1636 and attributed to one Jacob van Hasselt (Centraal Museum, Utrecht), has

Soo dient de bruyt te doen. sy dient haer af te scheyden

been cited as a possible source for Rembrandt's

Van uyterlijk ghewoel, sy dient haer aen te leyden

Wedding Feast of Samson by Slatkes 1983, pp. 37 - 41,

Tot innich overleg, om soo te rnoghen sien

though I see no clear connection between the two

En watter dient ghedaen, en watter sal ghschien.


Sy moet het gansche beelt van huys, en echte

13 See Corpus vol. 3, pp. 255, 257 note 7.


14 Corpus vol. 3, p. 255.

Te voren overslaen, jae mette sinnen maecken

15 The engraving claims Bruegel as inventor. Several

Een kamer inde luchl, een wonderlick ghebou,

of the dancing figures in the foreground copy figures in Bruegel's painting, The Wedding Dance in the

En leggen inden geest de gronden vande trou. 21 Jan Jansz Starter, Friesch e Lust-Hof, edited by

Open Air, 1566 (Detroit Institute of Arts), but the

J. H. Brouwer (Zwolle 1966-67; original edition,

rest of the scene is different.

Amsterdam, 1621), vol. 1, p. 167:

16 I would like to claim greater erudition in recon-

En of de Bruydt wat sternmigh kijckt,

structing this iconography, but in fact the three

0 gasten acht dat niet een sier:

preceding prints are all convenienll y illustrated in

Want sy een wijltjen statigh pryckt,

Muziek en grafiek: Burgermoraal en muziek in de

Quansuys om de manier.

16de- en 17de-eeuwse Ned erlanden (exh. cat.

I have translated the generic title of the song,

Hessenhuis, Antwerp, 1994), nos. 64, 66, 67.

"Bruydt-Lofs-Gesang," as "Wedding Song," though

17 Aside from Rembrandt's painting, one possible

it could also be rendered as "Song in Praise of the

exception to this rule is an engraving of a Peasant

Bride. " Starter' s spelling of bruiloft (wedding) may

Wedding Feast by Pieter van der Borcht (1560); illus -

be a deliberate play on words, or reflect a mistaken

trated in ibid., no. 65. Here the bride may not be

notion of the etymology of the word: see e.g.

looking down as clearly as she does in the other

Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal, edited by

images, though because of Lhe minute si ze of the

J. W. Muller and A. Kluyver (The Hague, 1902),

figure, certainly one cannot speak of her making

vol. 3, part 1, p. 1654.




TO PAGES 61 - 65

Bredero 1975, vol. 1, p. 94:

though slightly differenl, vein, as suggesting thal

Hoe bloosdy dus Vrou-Bruyt? Wat meughdy u

the bride is sexually experienced or even pregnanl


(with reference to Lhe lines from Pieter van der

Ick sie we! dat de Min wil uyt u oogjes springen,

Heyden's engraving afler Bruegel, see note 18

Om 'L minneloos ghelael niel meerder nu en peynsl.


Wech met de kouwde grijns, 'Lis langh ghenoech


gheveynst. 23

Dutch text reads:


en ghelijck alle Gas Len niet tot een en de selve saeck

24 Ibid., vol. 1, p. 234:

gheneghen en sijn, soo had' hy anderen ghemaecl die

hoe stryen in haar sinnen

verheucht waren, niel luysterende naer het Raelsel,

De koude vreese en de soete brand van minnen:

maer steeckende een Fluyt met Wijn al lachende om

Haar hertje spring ht van vreucht, haar hertje

hoogh; andere doende met kussen, in somma, hel

angstich trill. 25

de beweginge soo ware, als die in onse heden-

Brant, The Ship of Fools, translated by Edwin

daechse Feeste ghevonden werden, soo had' hy niel

Zeydel ( ew York, 1944), p. 135. Brant's text was

Le min onderscheyl genoech gemaect dal mense uyl

firsl published in Latin as Stultifera navis

onse Bruyd-lofs-Feesle wel onderscheyden konden. 32 Walter Gibson, "Some notes on Pieter Bruegel the

Narrenschyff, was published by Jan Evertsz

Eider's Peasant Wedding Feast," Art Quarterly 28

Cloppenburgh (Amsterdam, 1635). On Brant's

(1965), pp. 197-98, notes the apparent absence of

remarks and other references, lilerary and pictorial,

Lhe groom in Bruegel's painting and in several olher

Lo Lhe issue of the female gaze in the Renaissance,

sixteenth-cenlury scenes of wedding banquets. He

see also Paolo Berdini, "Women under the gaze:

surmises thal this had Lo do with social cuslorns that

A Renaissance genealogy," Art History 21 (1998),

emphasized Lhe place of Lhe bride at the feasl. On Lhis

pp. 565-90.

subject see more recently: Sullivan 1994, pp. 57-58,

Bredero 1975, vol. 1, p. 149:

157-58, note 65; and Elhan Matt Kavaler, Pieter

Ay siet Heer Bruydegom hoe dal de Bruyt al prijckl,

Bruegel: Parables of Order and Experience

En hoe steel-wijs dat sy u syelinghs an-kijckt,

(Cambridge, 1999), p. 313, nole 2.

Al loer-ooghent ter sluyck om 'L vollick te bedrieghen, 27

was een vroylicke BruyloFL - en niet te min schoon

I follow here the English Lranslation from Sebastian

(Strasbourg, 1494). The Dulch translation,


33 On the theme of unequal lovers, see Alison

Ibid., vol. 1, p. 566:

G. Slewart, Unequal Lovers: A Study of Unequal

Aensiet u lieve Bruyt Hoe blinckt haer schoone Deughd Len kuysschen

Couples in Northern Art (New York, 1977).

34 Cats 1625, seclion "Bruyt," signature 22: "daer lichl

oogen uyt: Haer zeden en gelaet de grootste ziel sou troonen.

een nieuwe bruyl I Een ander bruyloft maeckl. ... " 35 Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1656/12, no. 284:

28 Ibid., vol. 1, p. 566:

"Een hoogduijlsche Flavio Fevus gestoffeert mel

En siedy daer niet blaken?

figueren van Tobias Timmerman." On the broader

Daer wassen Roosen op haer Lely-wilte Kaken,

context of Josephus as a source for biblical imagery

Haer soete roode monl die Loont u seer verblyt,

in Dutch pain Ling, see Ti.impel 1984.

Dat ghy haer hooghste goed, en al haer !even zijt.

36 Josephus 1926, vol. 5, p. 133 [Jewish Antiquities,

29 Ibid., vol. 1, p. 378. See also Lhe similar passage in

book 5, para. 294].

another wedding poem by Bredero; ibid., vol. 1,


p. 234.

38 Ibid.

30 Sullivan 1994, p. 58, inlerprels the bride's smile in

Bruegel's Peasant Wedding Feast in a similar,


English translation in Corpus vol. 3, no. A 123. The

Alpers 1988, pp. 36 - 37.

39 Bal 1991, pp. 54-56 (where she contrasts her inler-

pretation with that of Alpers), and pp. 201-6.


40 Ibid., p. 56.

come into contact with an unclean beast (Leviticus


Ibid., pp. 56 - 59, 201 - 6. Though lhe impact of

11.27). In addition, one of the three

Leonardo's Last Supper on lhe composition of

listed in Numbers 6.1 - 21 forbad contact wilh

Rembrandt's Wedding Feast of Samson seems clear

corpses (both anima l and hum an, it seems). All this

enough, the proposition lhal lhe latter picture was

may explain why Samson hid from his parents lhe

meant to evoke the imagery of the Last Supper

truth about where he had obtained the honey, and

(either Leonardo's version specifically or the general

why the incident of the lion was a secret to begin

lheme) - and from that, to lead the viewer to draw

with. Samson's mass killings - in particular, his

the analogy between Samson's bride and Christ-is

stripping of clothes from the bodies of thirty dead

in my view far less certain.

Philistines - would also have necessitated contact

azirite vows

42 Josephus 1926, vol. 5, p. 133.

with corpses. Another Nazi rite vow forbade con-

43 For the reference to Samson 's bride in Vondel's

sumption of alcoho l; Samson's hosting of the wed-

play, see Vondel 1927, vol. 10, p. 182 (2.2 .55 - 59). See

ding feast in Timnah (lhe Hebrew word for feasl

the useful English translation in Kirkconnell 1964,

here meaning literally a "drinking bout") probably

p. 79:

violated at least the spirit of this rule, even if Samson

Then when a man ofTimnalh [Timnah] robbed this

himself did not imbibe. If we include the cutting of

plague [i.e. Samson]

his hair, it could be said that Samson either trans-

Of his due wife, the whole land suffered outrage.

gressed, or allowed others to endanger, every one

And though the Philistines, to right the wrong,

of his obligations as a

azi rile.

Consumed both sire and daughter in one fire,

47 Josephus 1977, p. 137.

He did not cease to slay them out of vengeance ....

48 On the duality of Samson as saint and sinner in

[Vondel's Samson play was once thought to have

Christian thought (with special reference to Milton),

been a source for Milton's Samson Agonistes, just

see: F. Michael Krouse, Milton 's Samson and the

as Vondel 's Lucifer used to be claimed as such for

Christian Tradition (Princeton, 1949), chap . 3: "The

Paradise Lost.]

Samson of the Patristic period," pp. 31-45; chap. 4:

44 Abraham de Koning, Simsons Treur-spel

"The Samson of the Scholastic period," pp. 46 - 62;

(Amsterdam, 1618), signature E4v:

chap. 5: "The Samson tradition in the Renaissance,"

De woorden die hy sprack die riepen meest om wrake

pp. 63- 79; and Joseph Wittreich, Interpreting

Soo over syne doodt' door Simsons sch ult gheleen

Samson Agonistes (Princeton, 1986), chap. 1:

Als overwreede straf die w' aen sijn Dochter de' en.

"Samson Agonistes and the state of Milton criticism,"

45 Bal's interpretation of the bride in Rembrandt's painting, in fact, seems to read a great deal into the

pp. 3-52; and chap. 4: "The Renaissance Samsons and Samson typo logies," pp. 174 - 238.

figure that is not clearly supported either by the

49 On Samson as saint and sinner in the pictorial tradi-

image or related texts: she refers to the bride's

tion, see Madlyn Ka hr, "Delil ah," Art Bulletin 54

"anxious eyes" (Bal 1991, p. 58), describes her as

(1972), pp. 282 - 87. Elsewhere Kahr, "Rembrandt

"isolated," "lonely and about to die" (p. 203), and

and Delilah," Art Bulletin 55 (1973), p. 252, notes that

maintains that she "appeals lo Lhe viewer, if not for

Rembrandt seemed drawn to the "victimized" rather

help, at least for understanding " (p. 205). Again, I

than the "heroic" Samson. On the origins of the

would not argue that this reading was impossible

"Power of Women" iconography, see Susan L. Smith,

for Rembrandt's original audience, but that the pic-

'"To women 's wi les I fell ' : The Power of Women

ture itself and the various textual versions of the

topos and the development of medieval secular art"

story in no way demand it from the viewer.

(dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1978).

46 The honey from the lion 's carcass would seem to

50 On the analogy with Christ in Vondel's play, see

have been proscribed for any Jew because it had

Vondel 1927, vol. 9, p. 238 (5.11.1675- 79), and the



English translation in Kirkconnell 1964, pp. 140-42.

bibliography of attributions. Vosmaer 1868, p. 510

In Abraham de Koning, Simsons Treur-spel

(also Vosmaer 1877, p. 594), considered the drawing

(Amsterdam, 1618), see for example de Koning's

"douteux" and in this regard, only Dutuit followed

dedication to Hans Roelants (before signature A),

him (M. Dutuit, Tableaux et dessins de Rembrandt

the prose summary of the play entitled "Inhoudt"

[Paris, 1885], p. 92).

(before signature A), and Samson's own admission


of his sins (signature G3).

See Broos 1981, p. 35, for the reference by Philips von Zesen in his Adriatische Rosemund (Amsterdam,

51 See note 19 above.

1645), where a ceiling painting in an Amsterdam

52 Cats 1625, section "Bruyt", signature 24:

house is described as representing Mars and Venus

Sy, die ghy voor u siet, is mijn bescheyden dee!,

imprisoned in Vulcan's net. Baldinucci 1686, p. 78,

Niet voor een derte l ooch, of eenich vreemt pinceel.

citing Bernard Keil (a pupil of Rembrandt before

53 On this drawing, see Peter Schatborn's entry in

1645 when he left for Italy), reported that Rembrandt

Berlin 1991a, no. 3. The inscription reads: "dit is

painted a series of Ovidian scenes for an Amsterdam

naer mijn huisvrou geconterfeijt I do sij 21 jaer oud

house. Roscam Abbing 1999, p. 55, relates this sub-

was den derden I dach als wij getroudt waeren I den

ject to the bacchanal that Rembrandt painted on the

8junijus 1633."

gilt leather walls of an Amsterdam house and to the

54 Eric Jan Sluijter: "Some observations on the choice

description of an ornate Palace of Peace in Samuel

of narrative mythological subjects in late Mannerist

van Hoogstraten's play Vryheit der Vereenighde

painting in the North Netherlands " in Netherlandish

Nederlanden (Dordrecht, 1648).

Mannerism: Papers Given at a Symposium in

Whether these are the same projects is not possible

Nationalmuseum Stockholm, September 21 - 22,

to ascertain, since the visual and literary evidence

1984, edited by G. Cavalli-Bjorkman (Stockholm,

is slim. But, taken together, these three pieces of

1985), pp. 67-68. See also Sluijter's "Didactic and

information suggest that Rembrandt did make some

disguised meanings? Several seventeenth-century

mythological decorations for at least one house, that

texts on painting and the iconological approach to

one of the subjects was Vulcan 's Net, and that this

northern Dutch painting of this period" in Art in

drawing may be connected wi!h the project. Other

History, History in Art, edited by D. Freedberg and

drawings that may loosely reflect these projects

J. de Vries (Santa Monica, 1991), pp. 175-207; and

include Jupiter, Io and Juno [Benesch A39]; Diana

Sluijter 2000.

and Actaeon [Benesch A50]; Diana Discovering Callisto 's Pregnancy [Benesch 521]; Thisbe and Pyramis [Benesch A27]; and Cecrops' Daughters

A m y Go l a hn y: H o m er, R a ph ae l , R e mb ra ndt : R ea ding V ul ca n 's Net

Finding Erichthonius [Benesch 149, 150]. 4

For general information and interpretive discussion about these paintings, see Sluijter 1985 and Grohe

I am grateful for the perceptive comments of Lisa Vergara, Juana Djelal, and Frances Preston, who offered

1996. See further Golahny 2001. 5

For Goltzius's engraving and related compositions,

insight into the characters' idenlifications, and to Alan

see Dawn of the Golden Age (exh. cat. Rijksmuseum,

Chong and Michael Zell, who gave expert editorial

Amsterdam, 1993), p. 342. For Wtewael's versions


of the theme, see: Anne W. Lowenthal, Joachim

Wtewael and Dutch Mannerism (Doornspijk, 1986); 1



The drawing is catalogued by Benesch 540; Broos

idem, Joachim Wtewael: Mars and Venus Surpri ed

1981, no. 3; Ben Broos in Melbourne 1997, no. 78,

by Vulcan (Malibu, 1995). The latter provides an

p. 340.

excellent survey of Lhe pictorial tradition of this

See under Benesch 540 and Broos 1981, p. 31, for

theme, which includes Italian Renaissance prints


that established the compositional type for Goltzius


Homer, Coornhert 1939, 8.350-51: "Hij is lam, maar

and Wtewael.

Joos, en listig van opstelle. I De sterke Mars moet

The passage is translated by Coornhert: Homer,

gelden .... "

Coornhert 1561, pp. 57-58; Homer, Coornhert 1939, pp. 163 - 67: book 8, lines 281 - 384. 7


10 Homer, Coornhert 1939, 8.353, 256-61:

Apollo sprak tot Mercuri um, die hertelijk lachte:

Homer, Coornhert 1939, 8.302-3, 306- 13, 315-23: Als hij Vulcan um zag reizen, dat hem wel heeft behaagd, Maar gink na Vulcanus' huis, blind van amoureuse dromen;

"Mocht gij bij die schoon Venus leggen een vrolijke nachte?" Mercurius bedacht hem niet lange in dezen; Hij ze ide: "O Konink Apollo, mocht dat eens wezen, Al zoud' hij mij nog met driemaal sterker netten

Zij zat binnenshuis, hij heeft ze in d'arme genomen, En haar vriendelijk kussende bad hij haar op der stee: "Komt Princesse, te bedden, laat ons slapen zonder schromen,

vangen, En mij al de goden mosten zien in schanden misprezen, og zoud' mij 't bijslapen van die schone Venus verlangen. " 11 Homer, Coornhert 1939, 8.365-66, 373- 74:

Zij gingen na 't bed om verpachten wellusts exchijzen.

"Ontbindt hem ... laat hij h em kleden,

Slapende bevink haar Vulcan us' net, daar Mars

Ik word zijn borge .... "

tegens stree, Maar hij mocht hem niet roeren, noch uit den bedde rijzen.

"Lost hem, laat uw gramschap dalen; Ontloopt u Mars, weigert hij, ikzelfs za l 't betalen." 12 Homer, Coornhert 1939, 8.326 - 27: "Daartegens

Vulcanus keerde weder door 't kwaad vermoeden Eer hij van Lemno kwam .. . -'t Was hem van der zonne gezeid, die 't spel voor hem gink hoeden. Met bedrukter herten zag men hem thuiswaarts spoeden; Hij riep v66r deure, vergramd door jaloersheid knagelijk, Dat' al de goden hoorden; 't scheen hij bestond te verwoeden:

ouders, die ' t niet beboorden, hebben mij geteeld." 13 Vondel, in his introductory remarks to his play Jeptha (1659), packaged this theory for the Dutch

stage as staetveranderinge, which Aristotle had articulated as peripeteia. 14 The Psyche frescoes in the Farnesina (then Cbigi)

were designed by Raphael and executed by his studio. Apuleius's text was popular, and surely known in The Netherlands, but never translated into Dutch;

"O Iupiter, en gij zalige goden behagelijk,

in any case, Rembrandt seems not to have been

Ko mt, ziet doch dit lasterlijk feit ...

interested in its narrative beyond the peculiar paral-

Ziet hoe Venus mij hinkaard altijd veracht en

lel of his own Vulcan and Raphael's Venus, both in

onteert!" 8

ben ik zwak, maar ' t meeste is dat mij deert: I Twee

Homer, Coornhert 1939, 8.339-42 :

the attitude of pleading before Jupiter. 15 Raphael's Farnesina frescoes were engraved by

De goden vergaderden daar met groot gedruis.

Marcantonio Raimondi and his circle; see Rome

Neptunus, schudder van d'aarde, kwarn 'took aan-

1983 and Geneva 1984. See further John Shearman,


"Die Loggia der Psyche in der Villa Farnesina und

Mercuri us met Apollo zag mede dit feit onkuis,

die Probleme der letzten Phase von Raffaels

Maar de goddinnen bleven alt'zamen uit schaamten

graphischem Stil," Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen


Sammlung in Wien 60 (1964), pp. 59 - 100.


OTE S TO PAGES 79 - 86

16 Rembrandt's inventory included two paintings by

anni in qua, sono mollo belle alcune disegnate da un

Raphael (a "portrait head " and a "Virgin": Strauss,

Michele pitlore, il quale lavoro molti anni in Roma in

van der Meulen 1979, dos. 1656/ 12, nos. 67 and 114),

due cappelle, che sono nella chiesa de'Tedeschi; le

and four portfolios of prints after Raphael (nos. 196,

quali carte sono la storia delle serpi di Moise, e

205, 206, 214); another item concerns a portfolio or

trentadue storie di Psiche e d' Amore; che so no

erotic prints by Raphael and other artists (no. 232).

tenute bellissime."

Another example of Rembrandt's high regard for

Coxcie was established in Rome by 1531, and

prints after Raphael is his exchange with Jan Pietersz

returned Lo the Ne therlands by 1538 - 39; see van

Zomer of an impression of his own Hundred Guilder

den Boogert 1992. Van Mander did not mention the

Print for Marcantonio Raimondi 's engraving The

Psyche print series in his life of Coxcie, and it is not

Phy rigian Plague. The impression of the Hundred

clear if Coxcie's name remained attached to the

Guilder Print is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam;

series during the next century. See further B. Jestaz

see Amsterdam 2000, no. 61, for Lhe inscription.

in Revue de rart, no. 1- 2 (1968), p. 133; and note 23

17 Caraglio's engraving has been proposed as Rembrandt's main prototypical inspiration (Broos

19 For the Master of the Die series, see Bartsch 1803,

1981, p. 35; Broos in Melbourne 1997, no. 78).

vol. 15, no. 67 [Jupiter and Cupid] and no. 68 [Council

However, that engraving alone could not have

of the Gods].

served Rembrandt in this case. The possibility may

20 Rembrandt may also have known the engraving by

be raised that Rembrandt knew a now-lost drawing

Marcantonio or Jupiter and Cupid, which follows

for Raphael's fresco. Relatively few drawings

Raphael's pendentive in the Farnesina [Bartsch

related to the Farnesina project have survived;

1803, vol. 14, no. 342]. For this print and a red chalk

given the scope of the project and the large work-

workshop drawing, see Rome 1992, nos. 88, 89.

shop participation, many more drawings must have


Homer, Coornhert 1939, 8.430 - 32: "Weest vrolijk,

been prepared. Such a hypothetica l source might

vader, en ... I Laat dat de wind verwaaien .... I God

retain the stiff posture or Juno in the Caraglio, and

helpe u thuis bij uw wijf, befrijd van alle uw leid .... "

aspects of the fresco, including Lhe directional ori -

22 Van Mander 1604, fol. 137r - v: "Hier zijn oock ver-

entation and mature Jupiter. Rembrandt's Hercules

volgens alle d'ander Historien van Psiche: welcke

might be a variant of the Coxcie figure; however,

inventien van Iulio ghecopieert zijn geweest van

another clue that Rembra ndt may have known a

Baptista Franco Venetiaen I en quamen daer nae uyl

now-lost drawing more closely rel ated to the

in Print I die wy in onse

Raphael fresco is Hercules's posture: leaning his

Raphael te wesen (acht ick) .... "

chin upon his hand and resting his club against

In the life or Raphael, van Mander gave an extensive

his arm, this thoughtful figure seems to vary the

account of the Chigi palace frescoes, and an astute

Raphaelesque Hercules, prominently seated in pro-

reader might easily connect Lhe two cycles, relating

file with chin on hand. See Geneva 1983, no. 81, for

the Chigi compositions to the prints by Caraglio and

the Caraglio engraving and the possibility of lost

Marcantonio, and the Mantua cycle to the series of

drawings; and Rome 1984 and Rome 1992 for addi -

32 prints. See further ibid., fol. 120v.

tional discussion about th e frescoes and their com -

ederlanden meenen van

23 Ibid ., fol. 258b - 259a (life of Coxcie), and van Mander

mission. The Caraglio engraving was copied in

1994, vol. 1, p . 292 (text), vol. 4, p. 182 (commentary).

reverse: Bartsch 1803, vol. 15, no . 54 (see Illustrated

See also van den Boogert 1992.

Bartsch 1978, vol. 28, p. 191, no. 54). 18 Giorgio Vasari, Le Opere, edited by G. Milanesi (Florence, 1906), vol. 5, p. 435 - 36: "Fra molte carte poi, che sono uscite di mano ai Fiaminghi da dieci



24 For Homer's reputation in the Netherlands, see Held 1991 and Courtright 1996. 25 Six's library had at least six editions of Homer's works in Greek and Latin, but none in Dutch; see Six


1706. The relationship between Six and Rembrandt


Ri eg! 1999, p. 270.

is far more complex th an the brief discussion here


Ibid ., pp. 270 - 75.

indi cales; see further Held 1991, Crenshaw 2000,


Martin 1947, p. 28. Also Martin 1951.

a nd Co urtright 1996.


Th e musket-rest tra ilin g behind this figure identifies

26 For these works, see, inler a li a, Held 1991.

Lh e wea pon as a mu sket, even though the relatively

27 These models are discussed in Golahny 1984.

small size of the firearm more closely m atches that

28 For the theory of the genres of poetic and artistic

of a ca liver . On the discrepancies between the way

endeavors, see Raupp 1983; and for the applicalion

Lhe musketeer loads his weapon and the manner

of these genres to Rembrandt's representations of

prescribed in the Wapenhandelinghe, see Martin

Homer, see Courtright 1996. See further Emmens


1968, for the meaning of the vulgar and learned poets.


Jacques de Gheyn, Wapenhandelinghe van Roers, Musquetten en Spiessen (The H ague, 1607); facs imil e

29 See Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1630/5.

reproduction: Kist 1971. The text of the 1607 E ngli s h

30 Th is is a leitmotif in the Rembrandt literature; see,

edition of the Wapenhandelinghe is reprinted in


inter alia, Golahny 1999.

Kist's "Commentary" in Kist 1971, pp. 39-44. The

Among his earliest uses of Raphael is in the

plates reproduced here illustrale the way to load a

Presentation with the Prophetess Hannah (ca. 1628;

musket: "Ten 24, hoe hy, uyt de mate d e Musquet

Kun stha ll e, Hamburg), where the prophetess

laden sal, latende de furq ue t noch al slep en, sand er

Hannah is adapted from the figure of Saint Anne in

de Musquet teghen d 'aerde te s lepen, ten ware by

Raphael's Holy Family, known through Marcantonio's

te swack waer." ("In the 24. how he sha ll charge the

engraving. See further Ti.impel 1993, p. 395.

Musket out of the charges, letting the musket-rest

32 For Rembrandt's drawing



yet trayle, but no ways yet suffering the Musket to

Castiglione, see Benesch 451; Strauss, van der

come to the ground."); how to fire: "Ten 12. hoe hy

Meulen 1979, doc. 1639/8. The elching of 1639 and

we! an leggen, en die Musquet ende furquet mel de

the self-portrait of 1640 are discussed in London

lin cker h ant ho ud en sal, den rechter arm om ho oc h,

1999, nos. 53, 54.

en t'lijff ghedraet, de lincker knie buyghen, en d e de

33 The Bathsheba may be considered a painting begun

rechter stijf houden ... elc." ("In the 12. how he shall

by Rembrandt but in some measure executed in his

present well and hold the Musket and the rest in the

sLudio; see Amy Golahny, "Rembrandt's early


'Ba lhsheba': The Raphael connection," Art Bulletin

what up and turning the bodye to the left side, the

65 (1983), pp. 671- 75 .

left knee bowed and the right legge straight .. .

hand, bearing the right arme or elbow some-

elc."); and how to blow excess powder off the Firing pan: "Ten 20. hoe h y ten overvloet dat laedt polver

Margaret D. Carroll: Accidents Will

vander pannne deckel, so daer yet waer op blyven

Happen: The Case of The Nightwatch

ligghen, affblasen sa l, om alle seeckerheyts wi lle." ("In the 20. how he shall blow powder of the panne


Corpus A 146; Haverkamp Begemann 1982.

if any were remained Lhereon, for more assurance.").


Van Hoogstraten 1678, p. 176. Van Hoogstraten's

According to this manual, each move should be per-

text is reprinted in Corpus vo l. 3, p. 481. This trans-

formed at the command of the captain. The relevant

la Li on is a revised version of the one given there.

commands being: "U Musquel ladet" ("Charge yo ur

Reprinted with translation in Corpus vol. 3, pp. 450,

Musket"), "Schiet" ("Give fire"), and "U pan affb laest"


("Blow your pan"). [No page numbers for the Dutch

Das Hollandische Gruppenportrat (1902). See the

Lexl; English text in Kist 1971, p. 42.]



translation, Rieg! 1999.

10 On these figures, see in addition: Martin 1947;




Ti.impel 1973; Carroll 1976, pp.116 - 17; and

hanging down, as prescribed in the captions to plate

Haverkamp Begemann 1982, pp. 73 - 93.

1 for both the ca liver ("roers") and musket.

For a summary of opinions regarding the possible allegorical significance of this little girl and the one

warns of the danger of igniting remaining gun-

behind her, see Corpus vol. 3, pp. 354 - 56; also

powder in the pan: "In the 19, how he shall cast the

Haverkamp Begemann 1982, pp. 93-101.

tutche powder from the pan lidde, to the ende that

12 Ti.impel 1973; Carroll 1976, pp. 79-136; Haverkamp

the Musket not go of unadvisedly when he comes

Begemann 1982, pp. 50, 68; Westermann 2000,

to trye the matche." (Kist 1971, p. 42). The action of

p. 171. Schama 1999, p. 488: "The idea was freedom

blowing out the pan in plate 20 serves again to avert

and discipline, energy and order moving together. "

that danger.

Svetlana Alpers has notably taken exception to this

16 "22 Feruary 1611. Harman Gerritsz, miller, placed

view. Commenting upon Rembrandt's "attempt to

on inactive status. After Harman Gerritsz, miller,

combine two different accounts of the doelen, past

had requested at the meeting to be discharged from

and present," she writes, "we might say that the

the civic guard, because - as he declared-as a

attempt to combine irreconcilable accounts of the

result of the misfiring of a musket, although he had

doelen results in pictorial uncertainty (Fromentin

recovered from the injury, he was unable Lo use his

used the word incoherent when he wrote of The

hands for this [purpose] and for handling a gun. "

Nightwatch: 'It is incoherent only because it tries

From the Archief van de schutterij, Leiden, pub -

to carry out many contrary aims. '). " See Svetlana

lished in Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1611/1.

Alpers, "Rembrandt's Claudius Civilis" in Rembrandt

A notice dated 2 May 1617 indicates that Harman

and His Pupils: Papers Given at a Symposium in

Gerritsz misfired the musket himself ("he contracted

Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, edited by Gore!

the said injury while practicing with his weapon ");

Cavalli-Bjorkman (Stockholm, 1993), p. 26.

ibid., doc. 1617 / 1.

The argument that I shall propose is not th at

17 Before a strip on the left side of the painting was cut

Rembrandt was trying to "combine" irreconcilable

away in 1715, more of the bridge with its railing

accounts, but rather th at he was deliberately expos-

extended into the foreground; and three additional

ing a contradiction between an ideal of military con -

figures appeared behind the parapet at the back.

duct and its flawed execution. For another account

Gerrit Lunden' s small copy of The Nightwatch before

of subversive effects in The Nightwatch, see

these losses occurred suggests that originally the

Benjamin Binstock, "Postscript: Alo"is Riegl in the

impression of the forward movement of the officers

presence of The Nightwatch," October 74 (Fall 1995),

would have been even stronger, creating an even

pp. 36 - 44.

even more dramatic contrast with the immobilized

13 "Commentary" in Kist 1971. Gerhard Oestreich, "The military Renaissance" in N eostoicism and the Early Modern State, edited by B. Oestreich and

figures at the back. Lundens's copy is reproduced in Corpus vol. 3, p. 472. 18 Unlike Fromentin, and more recently Alpers (see

H. Koenigsberger (Cambridge, 1982), pp. 90-117.

note 12), I am not arguing that The Nightwatch is

Werner Hahlweg, Die Herresreform der Granier und

incoherent as a composition; rather, that it is a mas-

die Antike (Berlin, 1941). Geoffrey Parker, The

terfully organi zed and balanced composition that

Military Revolution: Milita1y Innovation and the Rise

effectively conveys the disarray of the group.

ofthe West, 1500 - 1800, 2nd edition (Cambridge,

1996), pp.17-24. 14 See note 9 above. In all the plates of the W apen -


15 The caption to the previous plate in the sequence

19 Kist 1971, p. 37; Ti.impel 1973, p. 171; Carroll 1976, pp. 49-53. Albert Blankert, Amsterdams Historisch Museum: Schilderijen daterend van voor 1800, voor-

hande/inghe, when the wick ("lonte" or "match") is

lopige catalogus (Amsterdam, 1979), no. 484 [entry

not being used, it is held with the burning ends

b y Rob Ruurs].


20 Ibid., no. 220; Carroll 1976, pp. 39 - 48.

bilities, see Constantijn Huygens, "La secretaire de

21 Ti.impel 1973, p. 171.

son excellence Monseigneur le Prince d'Orange"

22 Jan Jansz Starter, "Wt-treckinge vande Borgery

in Memoires de Constantin Huygens, edited by

van Amsterdam, tot assistentie vande Staci Swol,

Theodoor Jorissen (The Hague, 1873), pp. 15 - 49.

bestaende in een Compagnie van 230 Koppen,

Huygens begins the essay by affirming the value of

onder 't beleyd van Capiteyn Abraham Boom, oud

order (pp. 15 - 16): "Puisque cornme d'un coste c'est

schepen, Raed ende Thresorier van Amsterdam,

l'ordre qui apporte le plus de lumiere

Luijtenant Anthony Oetgens, oud Schepen ende

d ' ou a este dit plus universellement ailleurs, que le

Raed der selver Stede, ende Iacob Iansz Fortuyn

bien est en l'ordre [Aristotle], ainsi au contra ire

Vaendrich, den 26. September 1622" (1623).

toute confusion embarasse la verite ... Tout ab us

Discussed in Carroll 1976, pp. 39 - 46. The text of

provient de la perturbation des rangs et de l'ordre

Starter's poem is reprinted in Hellinga 1956,


pp. 72- 78. 23 Jan Jansz Starter, "Wt-treckinge," quoted in

a la memoire,

30 Corpus A 135. 31 Clara Bille, "Rembrandts Eendracht van het land en

Hellinga 1956, p. 77:

Starters Wt-treckinge van de Borgery van

Dus hebbende gesteld op alles goed beleyd,

Amsterdam," Oud Holland 71 (1956), pp. 24 - 35.

Besaghen sy de Stadt en haer ghelegenheyd.

Additional references in Corpus vol. 3, pp. 354 - 56.

Toe-brengende alle daegh op 't loffelijxt haer tijden,

32 Corresponding to the discrepancy between the

Met hare Borgerij te offenen in ' t stryden,

actions of Rembrandt's figures in The

Om we! met haer geweer te leeren om te gaen,

and the ones in de Gheyn's Wapenhandelinghe, one

Om we! het stellen en 't herstellen te verstaen.

may note the discrepancy between the demeanor of

En wat tot krijghsgebruyck meer mocht van noden

Rembrandt's horsemen in the Concord of the State

wesen, Om minder inde nood haer vyanden te vresen . Waerin de Borgerij so toenam dagh op dagh,

and the twenty-two exemplars in de Gheyn's Exercise of Cavalry (discussed in Kist 1971, pp. 15 - 16). 33 F. Schmidt-Degener, "Een voorstudie voor 'De

Dat elck verwondert was die hare kloeckheyd sagh,

Nachtwacht': de 'Eendracht van het Land'," Onze

En haer gewilligheyd in alles aen te vaten,

Kunst 21 (1912), pp. 1 - 20; and idem., "Het genetis-

Als Burgers inde schijn, maer inder daet soldaten.

che probleem van de Nachtwacht, III," On ze Kunst 31 (1917), pp. 1 - 32. Corpus vol. 3, pp. 352, 457 - 58.

0 Gulden Eendracht! die u macht so blijcken laet!

34 Corpus vol. 3, p. 457.

Als ' t Land gevaer lijd, is elck Burger een Soldaet.

35 Carroll 1976, pp. 58 - 60. Knevel 1994, p. 255.

24 Carroll 1976.

36 Carroll 1976, pp. 79 - 100, with references.

25 Israel 1995, pp. 506 - 23.

37 Wagenaar 1760, vol. 11, p. 165. Wagenaar mentions

26 Ibid ., pp. 523-37. Israel 1990, pp . 95 - 99. 27

drillmasters appointed by the city for the militia

Wagenaar 1760, vol. 5, pp. 23 - 37; Israel 1995,

companies in the second half of the seventeenth

pp. 532 - 42; Israel 1990, p. 99.

century (ibid., vol. 11, pp. 125-26). Knevel 1994,

28 Gerson 1961; Slive 1953, pp. 21 - 26.

p. 278, quotes some verses from Joost van den

29 Constantijn Huygens, De briefwis seling van

Vondel's "Op den optocht van der schutterijen

Constantijn Huygens (1608 - 1687), edited by

t' Amsterdam," that refer to the "wapenschouwing"

J. A. Worp, vols. 2, 3 (The Hague, 1913 - 14). Hendrik

of Amsterdam 's militia in 1668.

Arie Hofman, Constantijn Huygens (1596 - 1687): Een

38 F . Schmidt-Degener, "Het genetische probleem van

christelijk-humanistisch bourgeois-gentilhomm e in


dienst van het Oranjehuis (Utrecht, 1983), p. 146 - 80.

werp, I, " On ze Kunst 29 (1916), p. 61. Handvesten

For Huygens's description of a secretary's responsi-

der Stadt Amsterdam (Amsterdam, 1758), vol. 1,

achtwacht, III: De uitvloeisels van het onder-


OTES TO PAGES 105 - 122

pp. 148 - 49 [regulations for Amsterdam's militia


Bredius, Gerson 1969, p. 486.

companies, promulgated in 1618 and in effecl unlil


Orlers 1641, p. 380.

1650); Keurboek L (Gemeenlearchief, Amsterdam),


Baer in Washington 2000, p. 94.

fol. 173v - 74r [spec ia l ord inance for the Joyous



Entry of 1642, stipu lating Lhal sch utters may noL fire


17th Centwy Dutch Painting: Raising the Curtain

their weapons, except al Lhe command of their cap-

on New England Private Collections (exh. cal.

tain or "bevelhebber"].

Worcester Art Museum, 1979), by James A. Welu,

39 Egbert Haverkamp Begemann, "Rembrandt's

pp. 34 - 37, repr.

Night Watch and The Triumph of Mordecai" in


Washington 2000, p. 94.

Album Amicorum J. G. van Gelder (The Hague,


Ibid., p. 138: no. 16 note 3.

1973), pp. 5-8. Christian Ti.impel, Rembrandt legt


Leiden 1988, p . 98.

die Bibel aus: Zeichnungen und Radierungen aus


Eddy de Jongh, Still-Life in the Age of Rembrandt

dem Kupferstichkabinett der Sta atlichen Museen

(exh. cat. Auckland Ci Ly Art Gallery, Auckland,

Preussischer Kulturbesitz Berlin (Berlin, 1970), no. 27.

1982), p. 145; quoled in Washington 2000, p. 94

Ti.impel 1973, p. 174. On the etching, see also Erik

note 3.

Forssman, "Rembrandls Radierung 'der Triumph

10 Sumowski 1983, vol. 2, no. 895, repr. p. 1378.

des Mordechai,"' Zeitschrift fiir Kunstgeschichte 39

11 Washington 2000, pp. 32, 34, 39, with references.

(1976), pp. 297 - 311; and Perlove 1993.

12 Van de Wetering 1997, pp. 160 - 69, with references.

40 Esther 6.3-11. Rembrandt's version is closer to Lhe

13 Sumowski 1983, vol. 2, no. 880, repr. p. 1363.

account in Fla vi us Josephus, Jewish Antiquities,

14 Washington 2000, p. 94.

book 11, para. 252 - 59 (Josephus 1926, vol. 6,

15 Ibid., no. 23.

pp. 435 - 39), in that Mordecai does not wear a

16 Gaskell 1982, p. 21 ; Washington 2000, p. 30, with

crown . Perlove 1993, pp . 45 - 46 . 41 Two elements are especially jarring: his cavalry boots with spurs (hardly designed for marching);

archival references. 17 Ibid ., nos. 17, 18. 18 T. Laurenti us, et al., Corne/is ?Joos van Amstel, 1726

and his right arm cocked on his hip: the arm -akimbo

- 1798: Kunstverzamelaar en prentuitgever (Assen,

position is suitable for a stationary military figure

1980), repr. frontispiece.

(like the pikemen in figs. 56, 58), but seems less so

19 Washington 2000, no. 29.

for an officer who has already started to march oul,

20 Ibid. , no. 3.

and to whom his captain is at the very moment


Ibid., no. 2.

addressing a command. On the arm-akimbo stance, see Joa neath Spicer, "The Renaissance elbow" in A Cultural Histo1y of Gesture, edited by J. Bremmer

Charl e s F ord: W o rks Do Not Mak e a n

and H. Roodenburg (Ithaca, 1991), pp. 84-129.

O e u v r e: R e mbr a ndt 's Se lf- Po rt raits as a C at e9' or y

I v a n G as k e ll : R e mbr a nd t va n R ij n a nd G e rrit Dou : A n Ev ol v ing R e l a tionship ?


Corpus vol. 1, p. xvi: "The gradual building up of an intuitive understanding of an artist's vision is ... also the 'reconstruction ' of an individual, with its possi-

I should like to thank Egbert Haverkamp Begemann for

bilities and limits and even with its potentialities.

his comments on the version of this paper that I deliv-

One's opinions on authenticity are based a great deal

ered at the symposium. This paper is dedicated with

on this reconstructed image of the artist, but every

affection to Ronni Baer.

fresh confrontation with paintings seen before causes friction between one's image of the artist and the





acLual work of his hand. " See also Michel Foucault,

12 Van Mander 1604, fol. 242v.

The Archaeology of Knowledge (London, 1972)

13 Raupp 1984.

[Lranslation of L 'a rcheologie du savoir (Paris, 1969)],

14 Alpers 1988.

chapter 3: "The formation of objects," pp. 40 - 49,

15 H. Perry Chapman, "Rembrandt's 'burgerlijk' self-

for anoLher take on this refreshingly pragmatic

portraits," Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 8 (1989),

methodological insight.

pp. 203 - 15; Chapman 1990. Stephen Greenblatt,

A rare, though famous, exception was the Medician

Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to

collecLion of artists' self-portraits. See: Wolfram

Shakespeare (Chicago, 1980).

Prinz, ed., Die Sammlung der Selbstbildnisse in den

16 See Slive 1953, p. 61.

Uffizien (Berlin, 1971); Karla Langedijk, Die Selbstbildnisse der hollandischen und flamischen Kunst/er


in der Galleria degli Autoritratti der Uffizien in

John Micha e l Montias : A Business

Florenz (Florence, 1992).

P a rtn e r a nd a Pupil : Two Conje c tural

See R. M. Dekker, "Egodocumenten: een literatuur-

E s s a ys on R e mbrandt 's E ntourage

overzicht," Tijdschrift voor geschiedenis 101 (1988),


pp. 161 - 90. The Erasmus UniversiLy website

I wish Lo acknowledge Lhe generous help in wriLing this, established by Dr. Dekker and

article of Albert Blankert, Alice Blankert, Marten Jan

his colleagues, is an excellent place Lo start any

Bok, Paul Crenshaw, Agnes Dunselman, Egbert

documentary or bibliographical search.

Haverkamp Begemann, Walter Liedtke, Nadine

See van de Wetering 1999, especially pp. 29-31, for

Orenstein, Gary SchwarLz, Wout Spies, and Christopher

references to the self-portraiture of Rembrandt's


Dutch contemporaries. Since presenting this paper I have read E. Griffey, "The artist's role: Searching

Documents are in the Gemeentearchief Amsterdam,

for self-porLraiture in the sevenLeenth-century

unless otherwise stated. Guilders and stuivers are

Netherlands" (dissertaLion, University of London,

abbreviated in the manner: f. 1:10 (one guilder ten stuiv-

2001) which suggests that research into sales of

ers). There are 20 stuivers in a guilder.

collections of paintings in AmsLerdam during the period might produce evidence of a genuine,


For two recent exceptions, see Jonathan Bikker,

though small-scale, interest in such pictures.

"The Deutz broLhers, Ilalian paintings and Michie!

Celeste Brusati, for example in her discussion of


possible meanings of trompe l'oeil: Brusati 1995,

Coymans's Journael," Simiolus 26 (1998), pp. 277 -

pp. 152 -62.

311; and Jaap van der Veen, "Onbekende

His face, copied from self-portrait sources, is found

opdrachtgevers van Rembrandt: Jacomo

in illustrations in SandrarL 1675, facing p. 356; and

Borchgraeff en Maria van Uffelen en hun portret-

Houbraken 1718, facing p. 272.

ten door Rembrandt, Jonson van Ceulen, Van Zijl,


See Slive 1953, especially pp. 28ff.

Van Mo! en Jacob Backer," Kroniek van het


Rosenberg 1948.

Rembrandthuis 98 (1998), pp. 15 -3 1.


Claude Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (London,




The identification of the witness to the testament of

1966), p. 256 [translation of La pensee sauvage

Rembrandt and Saskia van Uylenburgh turned out

(Paris, 1962)].

to be a main bu il di ng block for my second piece of

10 De Vries 1989. 11

ew informaLion from Elisabeth

Christian Ti.impel, "S tudien zur Ikonographie der

archival research in the text below. 3

In some Dutch archives (Haags Gemeentearchief,

Historien RembrandLs," Nederlands Kunshistorisch

The Hague; Gemeentearchief Schiedam), all notar-

Jaarboek 20 (1969), pp. 107 -98, especially pp. 160 ff.

ial documents have been indexed and can easily



TOPAGE S 130 - 132

be consulted. Most other archives have "personal


Portuguese merchant in a document of 14 February

the names of selected individuals are filed. These,

1634 (ibid., p. 41).

scholars may ask for extracts from the notarial

(NA 948, film 1171, notary B. Baddel, exact date

archives by submitting the names they are inter-


ested in to the person in charge of the study room.


In this article, these summaries of documents are


A 1081, fol. 66 - 67, film 1274. Van den Broeck might have obtained the diamonds

referred to as "Extracten. "

from Fonseca. In an act dated 14 February 1634,

I already followed this strategy in my article,

Isaack Messingh, diamond polisher, ceded to

"A secret transaction in seventeenth-century

Abraham Fonseca, Portuguese merchant, three

Amsterdam," Sirnio/us 24 (1996), pp. 5 - 18, which

diamond-polishing wheels (which he, Messingh,

speculated on Rembrandt's role in a transaction

could continue to use) in part compensation for a

that did not mention his name. A similar approach

defaulted loan (van Dillen 1974, p. 41). In a docu-

to the one advocated here was suggested by

ment dated 11 years earlier, on 6 October 1638,

Marten Jan Bok in "Rem brand ts Leven en het

Marten van den Broeck had given a procuration to

Drost-Effect," Kunstschrift 6 (1991), pp. 42 - 45.

a Portuguese Jew named Gabriel Casthanho in

The analysis of aggregates (the number of buyers,

Recife de Pernambuco to demand payment for

their total purchases of works of art, their geo-

stores of biscuit that he had sent to Brazil to be

graphic origin, their age at the time of first pur-

sold there (NA 996B, fol. 782, Extracten). A year

chase, their occupation, and their level of wealth)

later, on 8 September 1639, he had tried to collect

occupies the greater part of my article, " Auction

payment from a merchant in Recife named Marcus

sales of works of art in Amsterdam (1597 - 1638),"

de Pours for silk, silver buttons, and other material

Ned er/ands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 50 (2000),

which he had also sent there to be sold (NA 997,

pp. 142 - 93.

fol. 240 - 42, Extracten).


I am grateful to Paul Crenshaw for bringing this aspect of Rembrandt's bankruptcy to my attention


This is one of the hills of Granada, now called Monte Sacre.


Egbert Haverkamp Begemann informs me that

and for first raising the possibility that it might be

this painting representing an outdoor party with

connected with Marten van den Broeck's shipping

the Prodigal Son may have been the early Frans

ventures (in response to an earlier version of this

Hals, formerly in Berlin, destroyed during World

article where I had a llud ed to van den Broeck's

War II.

possible connection to Rembrandt).


NA 1081, fol. 66 - 67, notary J. van der Ven. An

Most of the lots were sheaves of untitled and unat-

extract was published by Bredius 1915, vol. 2,

tributed prints (12 lots for f. 21:19), ranging in

pp. 640-41.

price from 9 stuivers to an exceptional f. 10:5. In


Abraham de Fonseca, merchant, was said to be 30 years old in a deposition dated February 1637

Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1656/10.



cally se lected. In the Gemeentearchief Amsterdam,



Ibid., pp. 436 - 37. Fonseca was said to be a

fiches " that indicate where published references to

however, tend to be very incomplete and errati-




A less likely possibility is that Andries Ackersloot

addition, he bought a drawing for f. 6:10, two inex-

was the cousin, named Aris, of the son of the

pensive portraits, for f. 1:8 and f. 2:4, a painting of

burgemeester Auwel Ackersloot. Aris Akersloot

Adam and Eve for f. 4:0 (there is no painting of

was a silversmith, the son of Laurens Akersloot

Adam and Eve in either of van den Broeck's two

and Duyfje van Napels, and the nephew of Auwel.

inventories), two little untitled paintings for f. 1:6,

The difference in spelling the first name and the

and one little painting, also untitled, for f. 5:5.

fact that Andries Auwelsz Ackersloot and his wife

Van Dillen 1974, p. 376.

Dirckje (Dorothea) Steijns had their son Auwel

NOTES TO PAGES 132 - 135

baptized in Amsterdam in 1645, two years before


DTB 1091/250.

the lransaction (DTB 42/468), speak for the identifi-


The portrait of the unidentified priestJan Sebelino

cation in the text. Nole also that Andries Auwelsz, who held various municipal functions in Haarlem



may also have been Ilalian. 32

Crenshaw 2000, pp. 129, 135, 139, and 154.

from 1647 to 1670, and is referred to as "Sr." in

Rembrandt was said lo have once offered 1000

various documents, was wealthy enough to engage

guilders for a painting by Holbein (Strauss, van

in a transaction of this magnitude, which is more

der Meulen 1979, doc. 1666/3). He bought many

doubtful in the case of lhe silversmith Aris

engravings by Lucas van Leyden and Di.irer at auc-

Akersloot. (I have profited here from information

tion. Porcellis was one of the most represented

about the silversmith side of the Akersloot family

contemporary painters in Rembrandt's 1656 inven-

supplied by Pieter Biesboer).

tory. The large landscape by Esaias vanden Velde

Gemeentearchief Haarlem (Archiefdienst voor

and the Prodigal Son by Frans Hals in the van den

Kennemerland), 0

Broeck-Ackersloot lransaction evince a possible

A, inv. 225, fol. 432. An extract

from this document was kindly supplied by Agnes

Rembrandt interest in contemporary (or near-con-


temporary) painters that has not so far been docu-

Gemeentearchief Haarlem (Archiefdienst voor

mented (neither Esaias vanden Velde nor Frans

Kennemerland), ORA, Transporten, inv. 76.83,

Hals is represented in Rembrandt's 1656 inventory).

fol. 146v-150 (kindly communicated by Agnes


It has generally been assumed - in particular by


Ernst van de Wetering (1999)-that "de minne-

I still have not found any direct evidence that van

moer van Rembrandt" was a portrait of Geertje

den Broeck had gone into lhe shipbuilding busi-

Dircx, who became the wet nurse of Titus around

ness, for which he would have needed 27 masts.

1642 and soon after became Rembrandt's mistress.

Van den Broeck and Fonseca may have bought the

This is not certain. It might conceivably represent

supplies for export lo the New World.

lhe wet nurse ofRen1brandt as a child, who mighl


NA 1091, fol. 2, notary J. van der Ven, Extracten.

have posed for him in Leiden. There is also ambi-


NA 1093, fol. 118, notary J. van der Ven, Extracten.

guity about the Dutch word "van" which may mean


NA. 1092, fol. 190v, Extracten.

"by" or "of." Thus '" t conterfeijtsel van Rembrandt"



may be a portrait of as well as by Rembrandt (van


The answer to an inquiry from the Algemeen

de Wetering prudently refers to "the likeness of

Rijksarchief, The Hague, was that no petition for

the painter himself- probably a self-portrait").

cessio bonorum from Marten van den Broeck had

Because "van " in other parts of the contract, as

been found in the year 1650.

in "landschap van Rembrandt," signifies by

NA 138, film 1174, 17May1637. A "proefmeester"

Rembrandt, I will assume, as all previous authors

was an overseer of the tests (in particular, for mak-

have done, that the portraits of Rembrandt, his

ing ship's equipment) given lo applicants for admi-

wife, and "de minnemoer" were all painted by

ralty jobs.

Rembrandt. For van de Wetering's discussion of the

Extracten. In Marten van den Broeck' s "faillit"

three paintings in the van den Broeck-Ackersloot

inventory, the furniture and a very few paintings,

inventory, see van de Wetering 1999, p. 51.




listed separately, were said to belong to his


Note, however, that our only archival evidence

mother, Catharina Soolmans . He may have

bears on an indirecl contact between van den

pledged these goods against money that she had

Broeck and Rembrandt, via his cousin Marten

lent him.

Soolmans, who was portrayed by Rembrandt.






The confusion between "Mongol" and "Mughal" is a typical example of the loose vocabulary of seven-


NOTES TO PAGES 135 - 137


teenth-century clerks. The vocabulary of notaries

the date 1525 in the 1650 inventory. We have seen

and their clerks is also loose on the type of object

that there were several other works dating back to

represented: if I am correct about the identification

the sixteenth century in the 1647 transaction. In

of a Mughal miniature in the van den Broeck-

the 1650 inventory, there were also two other old

Ackersloot exchange, the "chinees schilderijtge"

paintings: the old Dutch tronie in the voorhuis and

(Chinese little painting) in question might else-

the portrait of a man wearing old-fashioned cloth-

where have been called a "Suratse teeckening" (a

ing in the achtercamer (whose contents are dis-

Surat drawing).

cussed in the text).

Abraham Bredius, "Hindostan'sche teekeningen

belonging to the painter (and probable art dealer)

(1911), p. 140, doubted that the album in

Cornelis van der Voort, there were numerous rep-

Rembrandt's bankrupt inventory consisted of

etitions of the same theme, including six examples

Mughal miniatures, but his arguments are uncon-

of "Mopus" by or after Cornelis van Haarlem and

vincing. I do not think there is enough evidence

four of Venus and Cupido (sale of 13 May 1625,

either way to prove or disprove that the miniatures

WK 5073/951). In twenty inventories with paintings in the back room in my data base of "private" Amsterdam

turen van Rembrandt" in Waarom Sanskrit?

inventories (other than those of art dealers and

Honderdvijfentwintig jaar Sanskrit in Nederland

artists), none had as high a ratio to the total num-

(Leiden, 1991), p. 110, after alluding to the only copy

ber of paintings in the inventory as the Marten van

made by Rembrandt after a miniature executed in

den Broeck inventory. 41

There were two Christ tronie paintings in

to the other known miniature, in Vienna, of a

Rembrandt's bankrupt inventory of 1656; Strauss,

Mughal on horseback accompanied by his suite.

van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1656/12: no . 115 ("Een

This was also executed in the workshop of the

Cristi tronie van Rembrant"), 118 ("Cristus tronie

court; no known Rembrandt copy seems to have

van Rembrandt").

survived. She then asks, "Is it not probable that


Joachim von Sandrart singles out for praise

the other one should also have been copied by

Rembrandt's "halbe Bildern oder alten Kopfen"

Rembrandt?" See also Slatkes 1993, p. 92, for a

(Sandrart 1925, p. 203). Note also the presence in

drawing by Rembrandt or by a Rembrandt fol-

the voorkamer of the" Awakening of Lazarus,"

lower of a "Mongol" on horseback with a falcon,

which was a favorite theme of Rembrandt and

which also corresponds to the description in the

Lievens in their youthful period.

van den Broeck sale. Finally, there is a painting of



Pauline Lunsingh Scheurleer, "De Moghul-minia-

the workshop of the Mughal court (fig. 75), refers


In the postmortem auction sale of the works of art

in Nederland in de XVIIe eeuw," Oud Holland 29

were Mughal. 37



"Oud vader" (old father) has a flavor of ancestor

a Mughal prince on horseback in the British

or biblical figure which differs slightly from "oude

Museum in London, which may also possibly be

man." I found one other painting of this subject.

identical with the "Chinees schilderijtge" trans-

On 15 September 1642, Emanuel Burck, innkeeper,

ferred by van den Broeck to Ackersloot. I am

pledged a number of paintings as collateral

grateful to Egbert Haverkamp Begemann for

against a loan supplied by Jeuriaen Huybertsz

drawing my attention to the Lunsingh Scheurleer

van Eijl and company. One of these paintings was

article and to the miniature in the British Museum

"een geknielde St. Pieter" (NA 1681, notary P. de

and to Walter Liedtke for his reference to the

Bary). Only one copy on panel of the Rembrandt

Slatkes volume.

painting, said to be "possibly seventeenth cen-

Note, in particular, the old tronie dated 1493 in the

tury," seems to have survived (Corpus vol. 1,

1647 transaction and the old man's tronie bearing

pp. 346-50).





The unusual pose also sLruck Schama 1999,

pp. 331-32, doc. 329, where Vermeer's patron

down on one knee, concenLraLes enLirely on paLhos

Pieter Claesz van Ruijven, signed as a wiLness Lhe

and penitence."

will of Vermeer's sister Gertruyd, which provided

This scenario raises anoLher inLriguing question.

some conditional bequests for Vermeer.


When Schelle Dirricxsz, 20 years old, was betrothed on 17 April 1626, he was said to be a

Lhe tronies and other Lypical products of the mas-

retail merchanL in iron products ("ijsenkramer");

Ler's studio were no longer in demand or at least

DTB 410/472. But on 5 May 1653, when he and his

were in excess supply in the market? This decline

wife Maitje van der Lijen had his daughter Annetjen

in the demand for his products would also have

baptized in the Ou de Kerk, near his house on Lhe

contributed to Rembrandt's financial troubles. On

Molsteeg, the clerk designated him as an "yvoor-

Rembrandt's bankruptcy, the most up-to-date,

draijer" (ivory turner or carver); DTB 6/366. 52

It has generally been assumed that Swalmius was


apprenticed to de Hondecoeter. But he may just as

Ben Broos, "Fame shared is fame doubled" in

plausibly have been lodging there. It is worthy of

Amsterdam 1983, pp. 46 - 47. The count of pupils

note that Eleazer Swalmius was a witness to the

known from contemporary documents does not

prenuptial conLracL of Gillis de Hondecoeter with

include Hendrick Heerschop and Joris van Vliet,

Anneken Spierings on 1March1628; Oud Holland

the contemporary references to whose apprentice-

3 (1885), p. 162.

ship with RembrandL leave some doubt. Heijman



paintings he had boughL from Rembrandt because

complete, and evenhanded study is Crenshaw


For a significant example see Montias 1989,

pp. 276- 77, who wriLes, "Rembrandt's Peter,

Had van den Broeck failed Lo sell some of the




The pendant of the portrait in Detroit, believed Lo

Dullaert, who is counted among the twenty, only

represent Henricus's first wife, Judith van Breda,

appears as a witness to a procurement signed by

is preserved in the Museum Boijmans Van

RembrandL (ibid., p. 74).

Beuningen, RoLLerdam.

Sandrart writes of "fast unzahlbaren


The portrait after RembrandL ("Rembrandt pinxit")

fi.ihrnehmende Kindern ... deren jeder ihme

was etched by Jonas Suyderhoef. There also exists

[Rembrandt] jahrlich in 100 Gulden bezahlt"

a version, based on Lhe reverse copy of this

(Sandrart 1925, p. 203). The interpretation of

engraving, by Abraham Conrad[ius] (1612-1661).

this phrase has given rise Lo some controversy:

In the text accompanying both the Suyderhoef and

Walter Liedtke, "RembrandL and the Rembrandt

the Conrad engravings, by H. Geldorpius, Eleazer

style in the seventeenLh century" in New York

Swalmius is said to have gray hair "born of the

1995, note 77; Josua Bruyn, "Rembrandt' work-

care of fifty minus four years" ("grauwe haren I

shop: Its function and production" in Berlin 1991,

Geboren uit de zorg van viftich min vier jaren") .

pp. 69- 70. The issue is whether Rembrandt's

The care refers to the years Swalmius spent in the

students were chiefly "a mateurs rounding ouL

active service of the church. Since he was appointed

a general education" (Liedtke) or "journeymen

to his first post as predikant in 1605, this dates the

(gesellen) or assistants who had already spent

etching to 1651, as HofsLede de Groot already sug-

some years with another master" (Bruyn). I see no

gested in 1906 (HofsLede de Groot 1906, p. 159).

way of resolving the controversy at our present

However, the style of Rembrandt's painting, as far

sLaLe of knowledge.

as it can be made ouL from the etching, corre-

Egbert Haverkamp Begemann, "Rembrandt as a

sponds to a much earlier date, probably the mid to

Leacher" in Chicago 1969, p. 21.

late 1630s. (In these speculations, I have received

SLrauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1635/5 (repro-

Lh e welcome aid of Paul Crenshaw). The portraiL of

duced on p. 123).

Eleazer Swalmius in the Koninklijk Museum voor


OTES TO PAGES 139 - 141

Schone Kunsten, Anlwerp, may have been painted



by someone in RembrandL's studio after a

complained of having been assailed on her way to Lhe

Rembrandt original (Corpus vol. 2, p. 689). It dif-

Oude Kerk in Amslerdarn, she was said to be 56 years

fers in minor respects from the Suyderhoef print.

old (NA 695A, notary J. Warnaerts, film 4891).

The most complete genealogy of the Swalmius


relating to the betrothal of Eleazar Swalmius and

Genealogie der Descendenten von Henricus van

his wife Eva Ruardus and to the baptisms of their

der Swalme genannl Swalmius, Predikant in

children were kindly supplied, at my request, by

Rhoon in Sud-Holland" (Frankfurt, 1884 - 86)

Wout Spies. 63

The Hague]. I am mosL grateful to Wout Spies for

Archiefvoor Genealogie en Heraldiek 3 (1940),

p. 65, kindly supplied by S. Middelhoek.

locating this rare source and for consulting it on


DTB 65/30.

my behalf. Some doubts were expressed (dossier


Petrus Sylvius, predikant in Sloten (Friesland), was

Swalmius, collection A. van der Mare!) about the

said to be 27 years old; he was assisted by his

filiation of Carel van der Swalme and his family

father Jan Cornelis. Sibilla was 21. Petrus was

relation with the predikanten Henricus and Eleazer

predikant in Muyden when he remarried with

Swalmius. But the fact that three of Carel's sons

Christina van Geenen, aged 24, on 28 August 1641;

(Nicolaes, Charles, and Jacob van der Swalme),

De Navorscher8 (1858), p. 320.

along with two of the children of Arnold


DTB 1046/ 118. This and olher DTB documents

family is the handwrillen manuscript "Haupt-

[copy in the Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie,


In a deposition daled 2 August 1635, in which she


An inscription in seventeenth-century writing on

Swalmius, the undisputed brother of Henricus

the verso of the second state of the etching in the

Swalmius, were heirs of Henricus Swalmius after

Rembrandthuis (fig. 78) identifies the silter, as was

the death of his second wife in 1660 confirms the

first pointed out by Dieuwke de Hoop-Scheffer,

relation. This and other Haarlem documents about

"Petrus Sylvius par Rembrandt" in Album amico-

Henricus Swalmius were found, al my request, by

rum Karel J. Boon (Amsterdam, 1974), pp. 96-101.

Agnes Dunselman, whom I also wish to thank.

The Rembrandthuis considers the identification

Zeeuws Archief, Middelburg: Rijksarchief

"convincing ." I am gratef-ul to the administration of

Zeeland no. 1492, communicated by E. van Essen,

the Rembrandthuis for the information about the

Gemeentesecretaris of IJzendijke (via S. Middel-

etching they provided at my request. Rembrandt's


etching may have been made in connection with

The first name "Jacob" is virtually identical in the

the appointment of Petrus Sylvius as predikant in

two signatures. A photocopy of the 1656 account-

Sloten on 21November1637.

ing was provided Lo me by the Zeeuws Archief,


Johannes Sylvius and his wife Alida van


Uylenburgh were apparently the godparents of


DTB 1227/175 (kind communication of Wout Spies).

Rembrandt's son Rombertus (Strauss, van der


Oud Hol/and 3 (1885), p. 253.

Meulen 1979, doc. 1635/6).


De Navorscher 33 (1883), p. 468. On 3 September


1637, Eleazer Swalmius made a deposition con-


Arijen (Adriaen) Banek, son of Joris Adriaensz

cerning the wife of a predikant in the service of the

Banek, was bapli zed in Schiedam in the Hervormde

V. 0. C. who had been murdered in Batavia, along

Kerk on 9 January 1619 (he was not quite 23 years

with six of her children. The predikant, named

old when he was belrolhed to Helena) [Gemeente-

Gysbertus Bastiaensz, his wife and their seven

archief Schiedam].

children had stayed in Swalmius's house when


DTB 455/ 250.

Lhey were on the poinl of selling out for Batavia


DTB 6/ 250. On 19 March 1625, Jasper Wallendael

(NA 519, film 6505, nolary Westfrisius).


A 581A, fol. 116, notary Lamberti.

bought a landscape by Gillis de Hondecoeter

NOTES TO PAGES 141 - 143

(whom he may have known via Eleazer Swalmius)


Adriaen Banek was present when the marriage

al an Orphan Chamber auction. The only docu -

contract of his sister Maria (Joris) Banek was

ment I was able to find in lhe Amsterdam notarial

signed on 14 April 1654 (Gemeentearchief

archive on Wallendael concerned an illegitimate

Schiedam, ONA 779). On 18 April 1667, Adriaen

child he had procreated whom he promised to

Maen, married lo Maria (Maertje) Joris, living in

support to the age of ils majorily or married state

Schiedam, with a procuralion from his brother-

(27 March 1637,

in-law Adriaen Banek, registered his claim on a

A 643, fol. 154, film 4954, notary

Sybrant Cornelissen).

share of the inheritance from his mother Grielge


Gemeentearchief Schied am.

Leenders, widow ofRochus Damnisz, former


DTB 1046/7v.

alderman (Gemeentearchief Schiedam, 0


Klapper, studiezaal 2. The possibility should be

779/57). That Adriaen Maen was the brother-in-

borne in mind that Adriaen Banek may have deliv-

law of Adriaen Banek was already recognized by

ered canvas to Rembrandl.

van der Veen 1997.


DTB 467 / 72.


Van der Veen 1997, p. 78.

is generally believed to be the painting Susanna


DTB 42/482.

Surprised by the Elders daled 1647 in the Gemalde-


Van der Veen 1997.

galerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.


NA 1915, film 2129, fol. 957 - 72. This inventory





Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1659/ 17. This

1 have found in the Rembrandt literature only two

(which has been in my data bank since 1989) was

paintings, both purportedly representing the dealh

independently discovered and analyzed by van der

of Lucretia, that were almost certainly painted

Veen 1997, pp . 78 - 79.

before 1660 by an arlist or artists of the Rembrandt

路 So far I have not been able lo idenlify Cornelis

school. One, dated by Sumowski in the early 1640s,

Jansz Slooterdijck.

is in the Detroit Institute of Art. In a letter of

The father of Eleazer Swalmius and of his brothers

19 October 2000, Amy Golahny suggested Lhal Lhe

Carel, Henricus, and Arnold us was born Hendrick

subject was more likely Lo be biblical (the death of

van der Swalme. He took the name Swalmius after

Sephira?) than classical. The other, dated 1658,

he was ordained in Rhoon in or about 1580. He

was once with lhe dealer F. Muller in Amsterdam

was apparently of Flemish origin and Jived for

(Sumowski 1983, nos. 2089, 1923). There does

some time in England. Source: "Haupt-Genealogie

exist a drawing of the Death of Lucretia in Berlin

der Descendenten von Henricus van der Swalme

(Kupferstichkabinett, inv. KdZ 5253), with a con-

genannt Swalmius, Predikanl in Rhoon in

temporary copy in Braunschweig. As Golahny

Holland " (Frankfurl, 1884 - 86) [copy in the

wrote to me, the fact thal the drawing was copied,

Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, The Hague].

probably in Rembrandt' s studio, may imply thal it


Van der Veen 1997.

was used in workshop instruction. None of this,


Utrecht Archive (HUA),


A U129a001. All the

of course, ties eilher Lhe drawing or the pain Ling

information on Johannes Willem Dilburgh and his family was kindly communicated lo me by Wout


to Jacob Swalmius. 88

AlbertBlankert, Ferdinand Bol 1616 - 1680, een


Jeerling van Rembrandt (dissertation, Rijks-

NA 2424, film 2557, fol. 28ff. This inventory has

universiteit van Utrecht, 1976), p. 12.

been known since 1885. However, lhe presence in


S. A. C. Dudok van Heel explains the emphasis or

it of the van der Swalmen painting and of the print

the Rembrandt literature on Rembrandt's contacts

of Eleazer Swalmius has nol been commented on

with Remonstrants and Anabaptists along the same

in the Rembrandt lileralure (see Strauss, van der

lines: "Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669): A chang -

Meulen 1979, doc. 1660/ 13).

ing portrait of the artist" in Berlin 1991, p. 54.



TO PAGES 143 - 146


Schwartz 1985, pp. 158, 162.

1992. I am graleful Lo John Loughman for drawing


Volker Manuth, "D nominalion and iconography:

my attenlion Lo Lhis source.

Lhe choice ofsubjecl maLLer in Lhe biblical painting



of Lhe Rembrandt circle," Sirnio/us 22 (1993 - 94),

Steinmetzen als Bauinstrument" in Italienische

pp. 236-37, 244.

Renaissancebaukunst an Scheide, Maas und

There is one more possible relalion with a

Niederrhein: Stadtanlagen, Zivilbauten, Wehr-

Counter-Remonstrant which remains tantalizingly

anlagen (Ji.ilich, 1999), pp. 534-45.

inconclusive. On 7 December 1654, the death


inventory of Catharina Scharckens, widow of Cornelis Smout, was taken (NA 1812, film 2079,




100 Ben Broos, however, illustrates a drawing of an

fol. 886-91). The inventory conlained a "wedding"

elderly man drawing after a Female nude, appar-

("huwelijck") by Rembrandt and a "portrait of

ently in Rembrandt's studio, in connection with

Carel Fabritius." Cornelis Smout is likely to be

his remark that "there must have been many who

related to the ardent Counter-Remonstrant

attended drawing lessons as part of a gentleman's

Adriaen Smoutius, but I have not been able to find

education" (Ben Broos, "Fa me shared is fame dou-

oul how.

bled" in Amsterdam 1983, pp. 45, 51).

Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1653/12. On


De Bruijn, Huisman 1992, p. 75.

Isaack van Hertsbeeck (born ca. 1590) and various


Ibid., pp. 76 - 77.

members of his family and on their relations to

103 Ibid., p. 73.

other members of Rembrandt's milieu, see

104 Gerrit Dou was 15 years old when he entered

Crenshaw 2000, pp. 70- 72.

RembrandL's workshop; Dullaert was 17 when he

On 21February1634, Do. Feslus Hommius, wid-

signed a procuralion with Rembrandt; Gerbrand

ower of Johanna Cischlini, was betrothed to Hester

van den Eeckhout became a pupil of Rembrandt in

van Hertsbeeck, widow of Pieler Malevessy. She

the late 1640s when he was less than 20 years old;

was assisted by her stepsister Josina van

Samuel van Hoogstraten was only about 13 when

Hertsbeecq; De Nederlandschc Leeuw 27 (1909),

he began to study with Rembrandt in 1640

p. 245. That Hester was Isaack van Hertsbeeck's

(Amsterdam 1983, pp. 74 - 77).

sisler is also brought out in this source.

105 Information kindly supplied by Marten Jan Bok.

In all honesty, it should be reporLed that, in 1625,

106 Information kindly supplied by Gabri van


Gerrits, the widow or Hendrick Hendricksz

108 I. H. van Eeghen suggesled that the portrait of

Van Eeghen 1985, p. 65.

Eeckelboom, who had been summoned before the

Smijters, which is mentioned in the list of Clement

magistrates for his Remonstran Lactivities in 1620;

de Jong he's possessions drawn up by his nephew

Jan Wagenaar, Amsterdam in zijne opkomst, vol. 1

Jacobus de Jongh, may be an etching signed "RHL"

(Amsterdam, 1765), p. 475. But this marriage to the

and dated 1633 (Barlsch 311). The attribution of

widow of a Remonstrant need noL imply thal van

Lhis etching to Rembrandl has been questioned

Hertsbeeck was not himself Counter-Remonstranl.

because of the monogram, which Rembrandt is

Van Neurenburgh was said to be "tot Scheltes" on

not known to have used as late as 1633 (van

10 March and Jacob Swalmius "Lot Scheldes

Eeghen 1985, p. 63). 109 Van Neurenburgh bought two volutes for

r. 2:2

Mosl of Lhe information in my possession on

immediately after Rembrandt bought "so me

Willem (or Guilliaem) van

volutes" on March 19.

eurenburgh II and III

and their family comes from De Bruijn, Huisman



wife Gertruid van der Veeke, remarried with Trijn

Dirricxsz" on 13 March 1637. 97

These dates were provided to me in a lelter from Gabri van Tussenbroek of 9 March 2000.

Isaack van Hertsbeeck, after the death of his first


Gabri van Tussenbroek, "Das Netzwerk der

110 Van Eeghen 1985, p. 65.

NOTES TO PAGES 146 - 163


Ibid., p. 69.

who bore at least Len children, the ninth being

112 This is the very plausible suggestion, made inde-

Rembrandt. She was buried in St. Pieters Kerck in

pendently by Christopher Wood and Egbert

Leiden on 14 September 1640 (Strauss, van der

Haverkamp Begem ann. Nei ther the Rembrandt

Meulen 1979, doc . 1640/8). For the settlement of her

Urkunden nor van Eeghen 1985, nole 13, had been

estate, see ibid., doc. 1640/9, 11, 14. When she d ied,

able to identify the p late or Lhe prints that were

Rembrandt's legacy was Lhe mortgage on her half of

sold at the Spranger auction that were pulled from

the family mill, which was valued at 3,565 guilders.

il. Van Eeghen had followed Lhe word "tasvloyster,"

His brother Adriaen (ca. 1597 - 1652) was Lo pay this

which she found in Gommer Sp ranger's death

amount to the artist in annual installments of300

inventory, by the wore! "sic!" (p. 69), as if it had been

guilders, but Rembrandt arranged to sell this right

an error for the more usual tasvloyer (the term

to a woman named Cornelia van Hogeveen for 2,606

used in the sale). But the feminine ending makes it

guilders 17 stuivers 4 pennies in cash (ibid., doc .

even clearer that the subject is The Offer of Love, or

1640/ 12, 13).

more precisely, Unequal Lovers-a young woman


1662/ 14.

reaching into an old man 's purse. A literal English translation of "tasvloysler" would be "The Purse Fleecer. " The engraving is Meeler 1932, no.


Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1647 /6, 1659/12,


Baldinucci 1686, p. 80.


On Rembrandt's other known purchases of arl and

113 This is also the suggestion of Marten Jan Bok.

curiosities, see most recently: Amsterdam 1999; and

114 Rembrandt, exceptionally, bought one set for f. 2:7

Crenshaw 2000, pp. 127-57.

immediately before Soolmans who paid f. 1:16, and





For the tontine, see Strauss, van der Meulen 1979,

bought six more sets al Lhat price. Rembrandt's set

doc. 1631/ 2, 1632/2. On Rembrandt and Marten van

may have been printed on different paper.

den Broeck, see ibid ., doc. 1647/1, and John Michael

Van Eeghen 1985, p. 66: "Smijters, Neurenburch

Montias's contribution to this volume. I thank

en Rembrandt moelen echler wel te voren over hel

Monti as for a bountiful exchange of ideas on Lhe

blijkbaar zeer gezochte werk van Di.irer hebben

relationship of van den Broeck and Rembrandt.

gesproken. "


Schwartz 1985 and Alpers 1988.

Rembrandt owned a large painting of the


The benefactors of Lhis reciprocity probably

Samaritan Woman attributed to Giorgione in com-

included Jan Uytenbogaert, Christoffel Thijs, Jan

mon with Pieter (de) la Tom be (Strauss, van der

Six, Jeremias de Decker, Abraham Francen, Pieter

Meulen 1979, doc. 1656/ 12, no. 109).

and Thomas Jacobsz Haringh, and Louis Crayers.

At the Spranger sale, Rendorp was said to be the

Many of the details of the artist's relationship to

"knecht in huys," by which was probably meant

these men are considered in Crenshaw 2000, chap-

that he had been employed by Spranger at the time

ter two, and the subject of" gift" works is addressed

of Spranger's death. Rendorp's father, whose first

in chapter five .

name was also Herman, was a rope maker and merchant who died in 1625.


For a survey of other artists' handling of financial difficulties, see Crenshaw 2000, especially pp. 239 69.

10 Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1653/6. Using

Paul Cr e nsh a w: R e mb ra ndt 's

the bill presented to Rembrandt by Thijs on 1

D ec l a r a tion o f Bankrupt cy

February 1653, the amount of interest owed by Lhe artist on the unpaid principal can be used to deter-


Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1639/ 1.

mine that he ceased making payments in



Rembrandt's mother, Neellgen Willemsdochter van

1649. Rembrandt did nol Lotally neglect his house

Zuytbroeck (1568 - 1640) was a baker's daughter

payments in the 1640s. He contracted to buy the



TOPAGES163 - 167

home in 1639 for 13,000 guilders. The schedule

Rembrandt on the back of a drawing in the British

called ror three specific payments in the first year

Museum (Benesch 1169) that corroborates Dudok van

Lo La ling 3,250 guilders. The resl, 9, 750 guilders, was

Heel's hypolhesis, see Crenshaw 2000, pp. 59-64.

to be paid off within five or six years. This averages

14 Marten Jan Bok, Vraag en aanbod op de

Lo belween 1,600 and 2,000 guilders annually. This

Nederlandse kunstmarkt, 1580 - 1700 (dissertation,

would have been a vast amount of money to expect

University ofULrecht, 1994), is one of the few studies

any artist to pay for lodging. Rembrandt actually

that have considered Lhe effects of the English wars

paid a total of 6,000 guilders, all or which was given

on the art markels or Holland.

to Thijs by 1649. Assuming that he met the pay-

15 Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1653/5.

ments in the first year, he thus paid 2,750 guilders in

16 Witsen had risen Lo power through the militia, and

nine years. That comes out to 305 guilders annually

he and Rembrancll may have become acquainted

on average that he actually did pay. This is much

through their mutual contact with the

less than he was supposed to pay, obviously, but iL

Kloveniersdoelen. Witsen was well conneclecl

still would be considered a high fee for an artist's

among artists and writers in Amsterdam, as noted

lodging had he been renting. The house that he

by van der Veen 1999, p. 145. His house was

moved into on the Rozengracht in 1658 was rented

described in a poem by Jan Vos as filled with

for 225 guilders annually.

antiquities, paintings and sculpture. Witsen 's bust

11 On the relationship between Rembrandt and

was sculpted by Artus Quellijn in 1658 (now in the

Chrisloffel Thijs, see Crenshaw 2000, pp. 59 - 64. The

Musee du Louvre, Paris). The ceiling of the salon

print, traditionally known as "The Goldweigher's

was decorated by Matthias Bloem with pelicans,

Field," was correctly identified by I. Q. van Regteren

eagles, doves, and cranes, and, as one would expect,

Allena and first published by Wilhelm Valentiner,

Witsen's family coat of arms. Matthias 's brother,

"Rembrandt's Landscape with a Country House,"

Jan Blom, a painter who was also connected with

Art Quarterly 14 (1951), pp. 341 - 47; and subse-

the militia, bequealhed a large number of paintings

quently by van Regteren Altena, "Retouches aan ons

to the Witsen family. This may have been out of

Rembrandt-beeld II: Het landschap van de goud-

friendship, but more likely it was in repayment of

weger," Oud Holland 69 (1954), pp. 1 - 17. Haarlem

debt. Jan Blom wenl bankrupt in 1675.

can be seen in the


ba ckground, with

17 For the loan, see Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc.

Bloemendaal in the right middle ground. A drawing

1653/ 12. On van Hertsbeeck, see Crenshaw 2000,

in the British Museum, London (Benesch 1169;

pp. ?Off.

Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, pp. 610 - 11: undated

18 Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1653/11.

doc. 16, repr .) bears an inscription on the verso that

19 Ibid., doc. 1649/4, allhough the English translation

mentions other, unspecified works that Rembrandt

of the key marginal note referring to the amount of

was making for Thijs.

the payment is entirely inaccurate. See ibid., doc.

12 Slrauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1653/ 1 - 3, 6 - 7.

1649/ 5, 8, 9, for the following events recounted in

13 This scenario was surmised by S. A. C. Dudok van

the text.


Heel, "'Gestommel' in het huis va n Rembrandt van

20 Ibid., doc. 1655/2.

Rijn: Bij twee nieuwe Rembrandt-akten over het


See Donald Haks, Huwelijk en gezin in Holland in de

opvijzelen van het huis van zijn buurman Daniel

17de en 18de eeuw: Processtukken en moralisten

Pinto in 1653," Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis 91:

over aspecten van het laat 17de- en 1Bde-eeuwse

no. 1 (1991), pp. 2 - 13; also idem, "Rembrandt doet

gezinsleven (Utrechl, 1995), pp. 96-97, for an indica-

in 1639 een miskoop: De gescheidenis van

tion of the large percentage of weddings entered

Rembrandts huis," Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis

after premarital pregnancy. For the effects of

97 (1997), pp. 2-13. For analysis of an inscription by

church counseling and public pressure resulting in

NOTES TO PAGES 167 - 170

marriage in the majority of such cases, see Herman Roodenburg, Onder censuur: De kerkelijke tucht in

Six, the descendant and namesake of the patron of

de gereformeerde gemeente van Amsterdam, 1578-

Rembrandt, is explored in depth in Crenshaw 2000,

1700 (Hi lversum, 1990), pp. 230- 78, esp. pp. 257ff.

pp. 85-88.

First to bring this issue Lo Lhe forefront of


29 This hypothesis, firsl proposed in 1893 by Dr. Jan

30 Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1656/5, 1656/17.

Rembrandt studies was S. A. C. Dudok van Heel,

Rembrandt also had at least one deposition taken,

"Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669): A changing por-

and judging from his attempt to keep her brother

trait of the artist" in Berlin 1991, pp. 路50-67.

Pieter Dircx, who was formerly acting as her attor-

On the Woman Bathing convincingly identified as

ney, from boarding a ship, he may have been instru-

Callisto, see Jan Leja, "Rembrandt's Woman Bathing

mental in her original detention. See ibid., doc.

in a Stream," Sirnio/us 24 (1996), pp. 320-27. For

1656/1, 2, and 4.

various approaches to the Bathsheba in the Louvre, see Adams 1998. 23 Margaretha Tulp had been engaged to marry Johan

31 This hypothesis was introduced by Odette Vlessing, who first reali zed the unethical conduct of Michael Spinoza mentioned below; Odette Vlessing,

de Witt (1625-1672), the Grand Pensionary of

"Waarom Spinoza in het ban werd gedaan," Nieuw

Holland, but was abandoned by him in favor of

Israelitisch Weekblad (11August2000), pp. 10-11.

Wendela Bicker (1635-1688). When de Witt and

She was assisted by Dudok van Heel in making a

Bicker gave notice of their inlended marriage on 30

connection to Rembrandt. Crenshaw 2000 con -

January 1655, Tulp used his power as burgemeesler

tributes independently discovered evidence regard-

two days later-just before leaving office-to pass

ing the laws of the weeskamer and considers

strict antisumptuary laws, including a statute allow-

Rembrandt's activities in greater detail. See also

ing only one dish to be served at weddings, and no

S. A. C. Dudak van Heel, "Rembrandt: His life, his

delicacies that included sugar for dessert. For this

wife, the nursemaid and the servant" in Edinburgh

history see S. A. C. Dudok van Heel in Nicolaes Tulp:

2001, p. 25.

Leven en werk van een Amsterdams geneesheer en magistraat (Amsterdam, 1991), pp. 94-95 [also an

English edition: Nicolaes Tulp: The Life and Work of

32 For the transfer of the deed, see Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1656/6. 33 As discovered by Vlessing (note 31), one of

an Amsterdam Physician and Magistrate in the 17th

Crayers's clients was Michael Spinoza, the father of

Century (Amsterdam, 1998)].

the philosopher Benedictus de Spinoza. Like

24 On Diederick Tholincx, see Crenshaw 2000, pp. 80ff.

Rembrandt, Michael Spinoza took his goods to the

25 See especially Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc.

Orphans chamber and assigned them to his son in

1655/2, in which Titus made a will at Lhe early age of

fulfillment of his deceased wife's legacy. Also like

fourteen, stipulating that his possessions should be

Rembrandt, he did this shortly before declaring

ceded en ti rely to his father, to Lhe exclusion of his

bankruptcy. Crayers represented the young Jewish

molher's family.

scholar against the claims of his father's creditors.

26 Ibid., doc. 1655/ 7. 27 The evidence that Rembrandt sometimes sold his

34 Two resolutions were passed on 31 May and 15 August 1656. The law is discussed in general Lerms

work by auction comes from a disagreement with

by Olfert Dapper, Historische beschryving der stadt

the merchant Diego D' Andrade, analyzed in

Amsterdam: waer in de voornaemste geschiedenis-

Crenshaw 2000, pp. 187ff.

sen ... die ten tijde der herdoopers, Nederlandtsche

28 Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1655/8: "een

beroerten, en onder Prins Willems, de tweede, stadt-

conterfeijtsel van Otto van Kattenburch, twelck de

houderlijke regeering, hier ter stede voor-gevallen

voorsz. van Rijn sal naer 't !even etsen, van deucht

zijn, verhandelt (Amsterdam, 1663), pp. 492-93.

als het conterfeijtsel van d'Heer Jan Six. "

Both laws are reprinted along with the specific


OTES TO PAGES 170 - 175

dates of passage in a pamphleL entitled Instructien


See in particular Michael

orth, Art and Commerce

en Ordonnantien voor de weeskamer (Amsterdam,

in the Dutch Golden Age (New Haven, 1997);

1731), pp. 36-44. Copies of Lhis book let are pre-

Montias 1982; and John Michael Montias, "Cos Land

served in several editions in the library of the

value in seventeenth-century Dutch art, " Art History

University of Amsterdam; it was reprinted by vari-

10 (1987), pp. 455 - 66.

ous publishers in the eighteenLh century. The rele-


vant laws are transcribed in the appendix to

Gaskell 1982; Washington 2000, p. 30; Naumann 1981, vol. 1, p. 25.

Crenshaw 2000. It is difficulL Lo be certain thaL


Montias 1989.

Rembrandt's case spurred the passage of the new


Brusati 1995, esp. pp. 52-168; and Celeste Brusati,

law. He had not yet declared bankruptcy by 31 May,

"Stilled lives: Self-portraiture and self-reflection in

a lLhough his intentions may have been obvious Lo

seventeenth-cenLury NeLher landish still -life paint-

some people by that time. Rembrandt's case was a

ing," Sirnio/us 20 (1990 - 91), pp. 168-82.

high -profile one, and seems Lhe likely impetus.


Schwartz 1985.

35 For an overview of the complex issues involved in


Alpers 1988, esp. pp. 101 -22.


Marcel Mauss, The Gift: The Form and Reason for

the case of Rembrandt (or more appropriately Titus van Rijn) versus van HerLsbeeck, see Crenshaw

Exchange in Archaic Societies (London, 1990); first

2000, pp.110-15.

published as Essai sur le don: Forme et raison de

36 It took more than two years for Lhe Desolate

l'echange dans le societes archai'ques, L'annee

Boedelskamer to compleLe Lhe sales of Rembrandt's possessions. In all there were six sales of moveable

sociologique, n.s. vol. 1 (Paris, 1925). 8

Useful works include: Arjun Appadurai, ed., The

goods plus the auction of his Breestraat house. See

Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural

Crenshaw 2000, pp. 103-10.

Perspective (Cambridge, 1986); Pierre Bourdieu,

37 On Witsen flexing his political muscles, see

Outline of a Theory of Practice (Cambridge, 1977);

Crenshaw 2000, pp. 107ff. He seems to have had a

idem, The Logic of Practice (Stanford, 1990),

history of closing out personal loans.

pp. 98 - 101; Carrier 1995; Karl Polyani, The Great

38 Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1660/20. By the

Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins

wording of the conLracL, RembrandL was not to own

of Our Time (Boston, 1957), chap. 4, 5; Marilyn

any of his completed work or any of the family's

Strathern, The Gender of the Gift: Problems with

possessions. He was given an advance of 1, 750

Women and Problems with Society in Melanesia

guilders to cover his costs for materials and food,

(Berkeley, 1988); Antoon van de Velde, ed., Gifts and

which he was to repay with proceeds from his art.

Interests (Louvain, 2000).

IL is unclear how long Lhis money was to last.


Most helpful Lo me include: Biagioli 1983; Natalie Zemon Davis, "Beyond the market: Books as

g i ~s


sixteenth-century France," Royal Historical Society

M i c h ae l Ze ll: T h e G i f t A m o ng

Transactions 33 (1983), pp. 69-88; Davis 2000;

F ri e nd s : R e mb ra ndt 's A r t in th e


Ne t wor k o f H i s P at r o n a l a nd Soc i a l

Art (Cambridge, 2000), pp. 169- 79; Warwick 1997;

R e l a ti o n s

Genevieve Warwick, The Arts of Collecting: Padre

age!, Michelangelo and the Reform of

Resta and the Market for Drawings in Early Moc/em

For their helpful suggestions, attenLive readings, and

Europe (Cambridge, 2000); Brigitte BuetLner, "PasL

assistance I would like to thank Alan Chong, Jodi

presents: New Year's gifts at the Valois courts,

Cranston, Kate Harper, Caroline Jones, Susan Merriam,

ca. 1400," Art Bulletin 82 (2001), pp. 598-625.

Naomi Miller, and

atasha Seaman.

10 Warwick 1997, p. 632. 11 This distinction between gift and commodiLy


NOTES TO PAGES 175 - 185

exchange relies on Carrier 1995 and on a provoca -

25 For the most recent discussion, see London 1999,

tive unpublished paper by Susan Merriam, "Cult

no. 26.

matrix: Jesuit largesse and images of the Virgin in

26 Biagioli 1983, pp. 47 - 48.

seventeenth-century Antwerp."


12 Jardine 1998, p. 418; see also Davis 2000. 13 Dl.irer wrote to Heller: "I am glad to hear that my

See in particular Schwartz 1985, pp. 116 - 17.

28 On the taboo of explicitness, see Pierre Bourdieu,

Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action

picture pleases you, so that my labor has not been

(Cambridge, 1998), p. 96 ("The economy of symbolic

invested in vain. I am also happy that you are con-


tent with the payment - and rightly so, for I could

29 My characterization of the patron-client relationship

have got 100 florins more for it than you have given

in the stadhouder's court relies on the analysis of

me. But I would not take it anyway, for then I should

Medici court culture in Biagioli 1983, esp. pp. 36-41.

have let you down, whereas I hope to retain your friendship. My wife thanks you very much. She will

30 Rembrandt to Huygens, 1639; Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc . 1639/ 4.

wear your gift in your honor. Also my younger

31 Ibid., doc. 1639/ 5.

brother thanks you for the twq florins you sent him

32 On the rhetoric of gifts, honor, and friendship

for a Trinkgeld [to buy himself a drink]. I myself

between patrons and clienls in aristocratic culture,

thank you for all the honor you have bestowed upon

see Sharon Kettering, "Gift-giving and patronage

me. " Quoted in Jardine 1998, p. 419.

in early modern France," French History 2 (1988),

14 Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1639/2.

pp. 419 - 47; and idem, Patrons, Brokers, and Clients


in Seventeenth-Century France ( ew York, 1986).

On the Passion cycle and Rembrandt's seven surviving letters to Huygens discussing payments and delivery of the paintings, see Gerson 1961. For a recent succinct survey see Berlin 1991, no. 13.

16 Rembrandt to Huygens, 27January1639; Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1639/4. 17 Rembrandt to Huygens, February 1636; ibid., doc . 1636/ 1.

33 For a summary of the project, see Berlin 1991, no. 13. 34 For the most comprehensive discussion of this connection, see Dickey 1994, pp. 201 - 15. 35 For a recent discussion of Rembrandt's close relations with a network or merchant connoisseurs and dealers in the 1650s and 1660s, see Roelofvan

18 See Corpus vol. 3, no. A119, pp. 192 - 94.

Gelder, Jaap van der Veen, "A collector's cabinet

19 See Biagioli 1983, p. 48.

in the Breestraat: Rembrandt as a lover of art and

20 For Huygens's position as secretary and his instru-

curiosities" in Amsterdam 1999, pp. 64 - 67; and van

mental role in expanding the stadhouder's art collection, see in particular Peler van der Ploeg and

der Veen 1999. 36 For an interesting case study of the pervasiveness of

Carola Vermeeren, "From the 'Sea Prince's' Monies:

gift exchanges between male friends of the burgher

The stadholder's art collection " in The Hague 1997,

class in seventeenth-century Holland, see Irma

pp. 59 - 60.

Thoen, "The gift in seventeenth-century Holland:

21 The Hague 1997, no. 27.

The case of David Beck" (unpublished paper pre-

22 Ibid. The painting was an integral feature of the

sented at the ESSHC, April 2000). My thanks to

decoraLive scheme of Amalia van Solms's "large

Susan Merriam for this reference. For the distinc-

cabinet" in the Huis ten Bosch.

tion between gifts offered to patrons and those

23 The Hague 1997, pp. 246 - 49. The gifts are mentioned by Cornelis de Bie, Het Gulden Cabinet vande

exchanged among friends, see Biagioli 1983, p. 48. 37 For a recent discussion of Rembrandt's drawings

edel vry Schilder Const (Antwerp, 1661), p. 214; and

for Six's album amicorum, see Berlin 1991a, no. 31.

Houbraken 1718, vol. 1, p. 141.

See further George J. Moller, "Het Album Pandora

24 Quoted in The Hague 1997, p. 248.

van Jan Six (1618 - 1700)," Jaarboek van het


OTES TO PAGES 185 - 190

Genootschap Amstelodamum 72 (1984), pp. 69-101.

For Lhe relation of Rembrandt's sheets to the tradi-

tor, see Amsterdam 1999, p. 144. 47 On Rembrandt's portrait prints and their private

tions of album amicorum drawings see Courtright

character see: R. E. 0. Ekkart in Amsterdam 1986,

1996, pp. 487-94.

pp. 12-19; and Joseph Leo Koerner and Michael Zell,

38 On alba amicorum, see K. Thomassen, eel., "Alba

Lifeworld: Portrait and Landscape in Netherlandish

amicorum": Vijf eeuwen vriendschap op papier gezet;

Prints, 1550 - 1650 (exh. cat. Harvard University Art

Het "a lbum amicorum" en het poezieallJum in de

Museums, Cambridge, 1999 - 2000), pp. 7-8.

Nederlanden (Maarsen, 1990).

48 On the intimate relations between Rembrandt and

39 On Six and Rembrandt, see David R. Smith, "'I Janus': Privacy and the gentlemanly ideal in Rembrandt's

Francen, see Amsterdam 1999, p. 142. 49 Ekkart, introduction to Amsterdam 1986, esp.

portraits of Jan Six," Art Histo1y 11 (1988), pp. 42-63. For the possibility that Rembrandt painted Six's portrait

pp. 13 - 14. 50 For sixteenth-century Netherlandish portrait prints

as a gift, see Paul Crenshaw's essay in this volume.

engraved as tokens of friendship, see Jan Piet Filedt

40 Berlin 1991a, pp. 244-45, no. 27.

Kok, "Artists portrayed by their friends: Go! tzi us

41 The inscription on the reverse of an impression in the

and his circle," Sirnio/us 24 (1996), pp. 161-81.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, reads: "Vereering van


For de Decker's poem on the portrait, published in

mijn speciaele vriend Rembrand tegens de Pest van

the anthology Lof der Geldsucht ofte Vervolg der

M. Antony." (Ibid., p. 242.) Hofstede de Groot 1906,

Rijmoeffeninge van Jeremias de Decker in Twee

doc. 266, attributed the inscription to the dealer and

Boeken (Amsterdam, 1667), vol. 2, pp. 34-36, see

collector Jan Pietersz Zomer. This identification is

Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1667/11. Lof der

rejected by S. A. C. Dudok van Heel, "Jan Pietersz.

Geldsucht includes two other poems on a Rembrandt

Zomer (1641-1724): Makelaar in schilderijen (1690-

portrait of de Decker by the poet Jan van Petersom

1724)," Jaarboek Amstelodamum 69 (1977), p. 98.

and the sitter's brother David de Decker (see ibid.,

42 Transcribed in Berlin 1991a, p. 242:

doc . 1667/~ 1667/10).

Rembrand amoureux d' une estampe de M.A. savoir

On de Decker and Rembrandt, see: Schama 1999,

la peste, que son ami J. Pz. Zoo mer, avoirt de fort

pp. 643-45; Schwartz 1985, pp. 340-43; W. A. Visser

belle impression, & ne pouvant J'engager a lui ven-

'T Hooft, Rembrandt and the Gospel (New York, 1960),

d re, lui fit present, pour l'avo ir, de cette estampe-ci,

pp. 74 - 77; Slive 1953, pp. 46 - 49; and K. H. de Raaf,

plus -rare & plus curieux encore que l'es tampe que

"Rembrandt's portret van Jeremias de Decker," Oud

!'on ... oine de Hondert Guldens Print, par les addi-

Holland 30 (1912), pp. 1-8. Rembrandt may have

tion clans clair obscur qu'il ya clans celle-ci, dont ii

painted two portraits of the poet. The Hermitage

n'y a eu, suivant le raport qui m'e n a ete Fait, que

painting is dated 1666, but in 1660 Herman Water-

tres peu d'impressions, dont aucune n'a jamais ete

loos published a poem on a portrait of de Decker by

vendue dutemps de Rembrand, mais distribuees

Rembrandt in Hollantsche Parnas, ofVerscheide

entre ses amis.

Gedichten. Perhaps the elate on the Hermitage por-

43 Welzel in Berlin 1991a, p. 245. On de Gelder's painting, see Dordrecht 1999, no. 42. 44 For an overview of de Gelder's career as a Dordrecht artist, see John Loughman," Arent de

trait has been misread, as suggested by Slive 1953, pp. 4 7 - 48, note 5; and J. Karsemeyer, De dichter Jeremias de Decker (Amsterdam, 1934), p. 44.

52 For de Decker's poem on Christ Appearing to Mmy

Gelder en de kunstwereld in Dordrecht" in

Magdalen, published in Hollantsche Parna s, of

Dordrecht199~pp.37 - 49.

Verscheide Gedichten (Amsterdam, 1660), p. 405,

45 Alpers 1988, pp. 110-11.

see Strauss, van cler Meulen 1979, doc. 1660/25. For

46 For Rembrandt's close contacts with de la Tombe, a

the poem's relationship to Rembrandt's painting,

bookbinder, bookseller, art dealer, artist and collec-


see: Slive 1953, pp. 46-47; and Berlin 1991, no. 27.


A poem by Waterloos is inscribed on the verso of

Briefer discussions or Rembrandt connoisseurship

an impression or Lhe Hundred Guilder Print in the

within a larger hisloriographic context can be found

Bibliolheque nationale de France, Paris (transcribed

in Albert Blankerl, "Looking at Rembrandt, pasL and

a nd trans la ted in Berlin 1991a, p . 242). As noted

present" in Melbourne 1997, pp. 32-57; Jeroen

above, in 1660 Water loos also published a poem on

Boomgaard and Roberl Scheller, "A delicate balance:

a Rembrandt portrait of de Decker.

A brief survey of Rembrand l criticism" in Berlin

53 Strauss, van der Meulen 1979, doc. 1667/ 11; and

1991, pp. 106 -23; Boomgaarcl 1995, pp. 117-36;

Slive 1953, p. 49.

The Hague 1991; Waller Liedtke, "Rembrancll and

54 On Pliny's anecdote and its importance to early

Lhe Rembrandt style in Lhe seventeenth century" in

modern artists in their allemp l Lo elevate the status of their profession, see in part icular Martin Warnke,

ew York 1995, pp. 33-35, and catalogue entries. 2

For a general history of Rembrandt connoisse urship

The Court Artist: On the Ancestry of the Modern

through the mid-nineteenth century, see Preston

Arti t (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 152 -53.


55 Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, translated by


Smith 1836. On Smilh, see Preston 1991, pp. 158 - 76.

Cecil Grayson, with an inlrocluclion by Martin


Smith 1836, vol. 1 (1829), p . xxix.

Kemp (London, 1991), p. 61.


Vosmaer 1868. He modified his list in the second

56 For the role of Poussin 's self-portrait in the dialogue or intimacy between the artist and his patron

edition : Vosmaer 1877. 6

Chanlelou, see Elizabeth Cropper and Charles

Wilhelm Boele, "Zur Rembrandt-Literatur," Zeitschrift fur bildende Kunst 5 (1870), p. 174.

Dempsey, Nicolas Poussin: Friendship and the Art of


Bode 1883.

Painting (Princeton, 1996), pp. 177 -215.


See Bode's discussion in Lhe foreword to Bode 1883,

57 Ibid., p. 187; original source: Ch. Jouanny, ed., Correspondance de Nicolas Poussin publiee d'apres

pp. ix-x. 9

Reviews by Oskar Eisenmann in Repertorium fiir

Jes originaux, Archives de l'a rl franc;:ais, vol. 5 (Paris,

Kunstwissenschaft 7 (1884), pp. 207-26; Julius

1911), p. 418.

Janitsch in Deutsche Literaturzeitung 4: no. 44 (3 November 1883), col. 1546 - 48; Jan itschek 1884; and an anonymous review in the Mittheilungen der

C atherine B . Scallen: R e mbrandt in

Gesellschaft fur vervielfaltigende Kunst, 1885, p. 26

th e Nin e ti e s

(supplement Lo Die Graphischen Kiinste 7 [1885]). 10 See for instance Janilschek 1884, p. 565 . He also


An important exception is found in the scholarship

stated that pride of place for archival research on

or Gary Schwartz: Schwartz 1978; "Connoisseur-

Dutch art was given Lo Dulch scholars, but in regard

ship: The penalty of ahistoricism," The International

to "kritischen Bilderexegese" - the attribution and

Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship

interpretation of arl works-German and French

(1988); Schwartz 1995. While Schwartz has been

scholars were said to lead the way.

concerned with the larger scope of Rembrandt

11 Janitschek 1884, pp. 565-66. See also the review in

connoisseurship since the mid - nineteenth century,

Mittheilungen der Gesellschaft fiir vervielfaltigende

rather than focusing in depth on one period, these

Kunst, 1885, p. 26 (supplement to Die Graphischen

articles have served as both stimuli and models for

Kiinste 7 [1885]); and J. JaniLsch in Deutsche

my own work. A succinct discussion or Lh is subject

Litteraturzeitung 4: no. 44 (3 November 1883),

was also provided by Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr.,

col. 1545.

"Issues of attribution in the Rembrandt workshop"

12 Janitschek 1884, p. 566. Of these reviewers, on ly

in Wheelock 1995, pp. 205-10, and catalogue

Oskar Eisenmann challenged any ofBode's aLLribu-


tions, and he did so only in the case of paintings in