• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7644

    Old Master Prints

    2 December 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 29

    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669)

    Self-Portrait drawing at a Window (B., Holl. 22; H. 229)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669)
    Self-Portrait drawing at a Window (B., Holl. 22; H. 229)
    etching, engraving and drypoint, 1648, without watermark, fourth state (of five), a very good impression, with the drypoint work in this state still printing well, particularly to the collar of the tunic, with margins, minor paper flaws visible verso, otherwise in very good condition, framed
    P. 158 x 127 mm., S. 165 x 134 mm.


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    Self-Portrait drawing at a Window is Rembrandt's last etched self-portrait. Six years separated it from the one before: six years of trouble and hardship during which his wife Saskia died, his financial situation deteriorated, and his relationship with Geertge Dircx, the nursemaid of his young son Titus, turned sour and culminated in a court battle. In his earlier Self-portrait leaning on a Stone Sill (B., Holl. 21) Rembrandt had adopted a rather Titianesque pose, dressed in elaborate costume and posing and posturing for the public, it is clear that the present work displays a very different sensibility. If the previous self-portraits concentrated on external appearance, this is much more a description of the man within. Adorned in plain working clothes he sits intently studying his own reflection in a mirror in order to capture it on a copper plate. He holds an etching needle in his right hand and the plate, unseen by the viewer, sits on a folded cloth supported on two thick books. The architecture is indeterminate and the window serves only to throw a strong oblique light on his features, enhancing the mood of introspection. He seems to be saying to himself as much as to the viewer: 'This is who I am, this is what I do'.

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