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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
(Leiden 1606-1669 Amsterdam)

“Self-portrait with Saskia”

etching, with small margins all around the platemark
104 x 95 mm
signed and dated: Rembrandt. f. 1636
More info

Bartsch 19; Seidlitz 19; Hind 144; White-Boon 19,
The New Hollstein Dutch no. 158, 3rd state (of IV).
Plate in existence in Paris – with Nowell-Usticke (1967)

Notes 

The original and modernistic concept of this self-portrait together with Saskia, is of an
extraordinary, innovative character. Over the centuries, it has proved itself to be of a
timeless quality, and no doubt, it still serves as a great example to modern photography.

In this etching, the thirty years old Rembrandt portrayed himself confidently looking up,
while holding a porte-crayon (a two-ended chalk holder) and appears to be drawing on
the sheet of paper before him. By identifying himself as a craftsman, Rembrandt draws
attention to his mastery of what was regarded as the most important basic skill of an
artist. Because of the mirror image of the impression from the original plate, he seems to
have ‘spontaneously’ become a left-hander. Behind him he portrayed his first wife Saskia
van Uylenburgh (1612–1642), whom he married just two years earlier. Rembrandt most
likely met Saskia while working for her cousin, Hendrick Uylenburgh, an art dealer who
had a workshop in Amsterdam. The two married on June 22, 1634 and remained together
for eight years until Saskia’s untimely death at the age of 30.

Saskia is said to have been very agreeable to the customers and because she was of high
descent, she introduced him to a well-to-do seventeenth century Dutch clientèle. One is
inclined to imagine Rembrandt felt a certain proudness for his Saskia, and by means of
this print he communicates that to his buying audience.

Although Rembrandt has often painted and drawn his wife, of his entire graphic oeuvre,
this is the only portrait of Rembrandt together with his wife.

Provenance

From a private American collection;
From a private Dutch collection.

Although this image with the ‘double portrait’ was popular within Rembrandt’s cicrle in
the 17th century, it is quite rare to find impressions of the first and second state nowadays.

Condition

A very good, dark and evenly-printed 18th-century impression with strong contrasts and
with no signs of wear in the most densely cross-hatched areas.

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