December 15, 2023
Standing just under eight inches tall, two oval portraits rediscovered after 200 years are now considered Rembrandt’s smallest formal works. On view at the Rijksmuseum, which houses the largest collection of the Dutch painter’s oeuvre, the pair was rediscovered two years ago and depicts members of Rembrand’s family rendered with his characteristic loose brushstrokes.
Painted in 1635, the portraits feature the wealthy plumber and slater Jan Willemsz van der Pluym and his wife Jaapgen Caerlsdr, who were married in 1591 and ages 70 and 69, respectively, when they sat for Rembrandt. “Considering (the works’) small size and dynamic, sketchy style, he probably painted them as a favour to the couple,” a release from Rijksmuseum says. “The van der Pluyms had a close bond with Rembrandt’s family, which began in 1624 when Jan and Jaapgen’s son Dominicus wed Rembrandt’s cousin Cornelia Cornelisdr van Suytbroek.”
Larger versions of these tiny works have been known to researchers for decades, which helped to attribute the smaller pair. Using a combination of X-radiography, infrared photography, infrared reflectography, macro X-ray fluorescence, stereomicroscopy, and paint sample analysis, Rijksmuseum found that the portraits were built up like other Rembrandt works and alterations in the sitters’ collars were made similarly to his other pieces. The materials, including lead- and iron-based paints and Earth pigments, also match those often employed by the artist.
Both works are on view long-term in Amseterdam. (via Hyperallergic)
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