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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

Portrait of a Young Woman (Magdalena van Loo?)


Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Leiden 1606 – Amsterdam 1669


Portrait of a Young Woman (Magdalena van Loo?)


About 1668


Oil on canvas


56.3 x 48 cm


Mrs. R. MacD. Paterson Bequest, inv. 1949.1006


Western Art

Rembrandt is known to be one of the greatest of all portraitists. His technical skill in the naturalistic depiction of his subjects — including himself often — was matched by his profound exploration of psychological types. By the end of his long and productive career, he could achieve these effects with remarkably limited and controlled means. This portrait, executed in the last years of the artist’s life, provides an example of his masterful economy. Restricted to a rich range of blacks, loosely applied flesh tones and rough strokes of white, the light is carefully manipulated in the undefined space so that the face emerges out of a dark, enveloping atmosphere, which contributes to the introspective mood. The painting was probably a pendant of the sitter’s husband: a possible candidate that has been proposed by scholars is the portrait of Titus, Rembrandt’s son, at the Louvre. In that case, the woman portrayed in our painting is Magdalena van Loo, and the painting should be dated 1668, when they married, which is consistent with the style of this fine late portrait by the master.

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