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Portrait of Rembrandt in Oriental Dress

Isaac de Jouderville (Leiden ca. 1612 – 1648 Amsterdam)
ca. 1631
oil on panel
70.8 x 50.5 cm
signed information

false signature and date in dark paint, upper left corner: “Rembrandt ft. 1641”

inventory number

Surh, Dominique. “Portrait of Rembrandt in Oriental Dress” (2017). In The Leiden Collection Catalogue, 3rd ed. Edited by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. and Lara Yeager-Crasselt. New York, 2020–. (accessed April 14, 2021).

Portrait of Rembrandt in Oriental Dress is a fascinating workshop copy by Isaac de Jouderville, executed toward the end of his apprenticeship with Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–69) from 1629 to 1631. Based on Rembrandt’s own full-length self-portrait, signed and dated 1631 in the Petit Palais in Paris (), Jouderville’s larger panel differs from its prototype in its cooler tonalities, more exaggerated chiaroscuro, and crisper silhouette. The most obvious difference between the two paintings, however, is that Jouderville’s version does not depict the large dog in the foreground of Rembrandt’s painting. Rembrandt added the curly, long-haired poodle at a later date, probably in 1633.

As in Rembrandt’s original, Jouderville has portrayed the artist gazing at the viewer as he stands in contrapposto, with one hand resting on a cane and the other held akimbo. His fanciful costume includes a turban with a feathered aigrette, a velvet cloak closed at one shoulder with buttons, and a short silk tunic with golden brocade and fringe, tied by a sash at the waist. The fascination with exotic dress is evident in other works by Rembrandt from this period, as in Man in Oriental Costume (“The Noble Slav”), 1632, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Daniel and Cyrus before the Idol Bel, 1633, in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rembrandt, however, portrayed himself in oriental dress only on this one occasion.

For most of its recorded history, Portrait of Rembrandt in Oriental Dress was considered to have been painted by the master. This attribution was based largely on its Rembrandtesque style and subject matter; the “signature” and date at the upper left—“Rembrandt ft. 1641”—were apparently added in the nineteenth century. In 1983, Ernst van de Wetering proposed that Portrait of Rembrandt in Oriental Dress was painted by an apprentice in Rembrandt’s workshop and suggested Jouderville as the most likely candidate. Van de Wetering’s proposal is convincing, for Jouderville’s Bust of a Young Man from the early 1630s in the National Gallery of Ireland, one of his few signed paintings, shares a number of stylistic features with the present work (). The overly emphasized highlights of the richly appointed fabric, the frizzy hair, and the thin contour of light around the figure leave little doubt that these two paintings are by the same hand.

The reason for Rembrandt’s choice to portray himself in exotic costume is difficult to ascertain. Nevertheless, it is significant that Rembrandt felt the composition was worthy of being replicated by a workshop apprentice. Because Rembrandt and Jouderville were in both Leiden and Amsterdam in 1631, it is also unclear in which city the prototype and this copy originated. In the summer of 1631, Rembrandt began his business arrangement with the Amsterdam dealer Hendrick van Uylenburgh, and he received a number of portrait commissions requiring his presence in Amsterdam. Scholars have suggested that Jouderville may have accompanied Rembrandt to Amsterdam as an assistant in Uylenburgh’s workshop, since the last payment receipt pertaining to Jouderville’s apprenticeship with Rembrandt is dated 19 November 1631.

Jouderville’s Portrait of Rembrandt in Oriental Dress is a relatively rare example of the type of didactic exercises that must have been an integral part of Rembrandt’s workshop practice. We know that making painted copies after Rembrandt’s work, both as an exercise in imitation and as emulation of the master’s style, was an important part of Rembrandt’s method of instruction. Nevertheless, very few direct copies after his paintings, such as this one, survive. Jouderville was more likely to make variants of Rembrandt’s compositions. His Man in Oriental Costume (), for example, is loosely based on Rembrandt’s self-portrait in Paris (). A painting convincingly attributed to Jouderville, Bust of a Young Woman in Chapel Hill (RR-104, fig. 3), is similarly derived from one of Rembrandt’s paintings from the early 1630s, Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak, in the present collection (RR-104). Jouderville was also able to adapt pictorial elements in Rembrandt’s paintings to create his own independent works, as in his Minerva in Her Study in Denver, which draws freely on Rembrandt’s Old Woman Reading in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

X-radiographs of Rembrandt’s Paris self-portrait have revealed that the master made a number of changes to this work. Initially he shortened the length of his legs and painted his feet anew, but then he added the poodle, which covers his feet. Because of the close correspondence between the longer legs in Rembrandt’s original and those in Jouderville’s copy, the Rembrandt Research Project concluded that Jouderville’s variant must represent the original appearance of Rembrandt’s painting. Thus, aside from its own intrinsic qualities, this portrait is a fascinating document of Rembrandt’s only known effort to paint a full-length self-portrait.

- Dominique Surh, 2017
For further discussion about this artwork, see Rembrandt and The Leiden Collection.
  • Madame Le Rouge, Paris (her sale, Paris, 27 April 1818, no. 46, as by Rembrandt [for 2,460 francs to Bruno]).
  • G. Couteaux, Paris.
  • Chevalier van Deuren de Beauré (his sale, Paris, 26 February 1844, no. 45, as by Rembrandt).
  • Alexandre Tardieu (his sale, Hôtel des ventes, Rue des Jeûneurs, Paris, France, Paris, 4 February 1851, no. 14, as by Rembrandt [to Etienne Leroy]).
  • François Nieuwenhuys Collection, Paris, by 1852.
  • Piérard de Valenciennes (his sale, Paris, 20–21 March 1860, no. 66, as by Rembrandt).
  • Éduoard Kums, Antwerp (his sale, Antwerp, 17–18 May 1898, no. 126, as by Rembrandt [for 22,000 francs to Le Roy, Paris and Bruxelles]).
  • A. M. Byers, Pittsburgh, by 1900.
  • Baron Arthur de Schickler, Paris, by 1916 [Edouard Jonas Gallery, New York, 1927].
  • Private collection, Switzerland, by 1936.
  • M. C. de Coppet, Ghent.
  • Private collection [Emmanuel Moatti, Paris, 2004].
  • From whom acquired by the present owner in 2004.
  • The Edouard Jonas Galleries, New York, 1927.
  • Amsterdam, Museum het Rembrandthuis, on loan with the permanent collection, 1995–2004.
  • London, National Gallery, “Rembrandt by Himself,” 9 June–5 September 1999; The Hague, Mauritshuis, 25 September 1999–9 January 2000, no. 29b [lent by the Museum het Rembrandthuis, inv. 276].
  • Norfolk, Virginia, The Chrysler Museum, on loan with the permanent collection, 2010–2011 [lent by the present owner].
  • Brooklyn, New York, Brooklyn Museum, on loan with the permanent collection, March 2013–March 2016 [lent by the present owner].
  • Paris, Museé du Louvre, “Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection: The Age of Rembrandt,” 22 February–22 May 2017 [lent by the present owner].
  • Beijing, National Museum of China, “Rembrandt and His Time: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection,” 17 June–3 September 2017 [lent by the present owner].
  • Shanghai, Long Museum, West Bund, “Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals in the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection,” 23 September 2017–25 February 2018 [lent by the present owner].
  • Moscow, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, “The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection,” 28 March 2018–22 July 2018 [lent by the present owner].
  • St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum, “The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection,” 5 September 2018–13 January 2019 [lent by the present owner].
  • Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi, “Rembrandt, Vermeer and the Dutch Golden Age. Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection and the Musée du Louvre,” 14 February–18 May 2019 [lent by the present owner].
  • Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829–42, 6: 199; 7:109, no. 299, as by Rembrandt.
  • Von Bode, Wilhelm, and Cornelis Hofstede de Groot. Rembrandt: beschreibendes Verzeichniss seiner Gemälde mit den heliographischen Nachbildungen: Geschichte seines Lebens und seiner Kunst. 8 vols. Paris, 1897–1906, 1: 139, no. 54, as by Rembrandt van Rijn.
  • Von Wurzbach, Alfred. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon: Auf Grund Archivalischer Forschungen Bearbeitet. 3 vols. Vienna and Leipzig, 1906–11, 2: 96.
  • Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century Based on the Work of John Smith. Edited and translated by Edward G. Hawke,  6: 199, under no. 350 (as a copy after Rembrandt van Rijn). 8 vols. London, 1907–28. Originally published as Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten höllandischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. Esslingen and Paris, 1907–1928.
  • Bredius, Abraham. The Paintings of Rembrandt. 2 vols. Oxford, 1942, 1: 21, no. 16, as a copy after Rembrandt.
  • Bruyn, Josua et al. A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings. Vol. 1: 1625–1631. Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project. The Hague, 1982, under A40, 381, fig. 7.
  • Bruyn, Josua, et al. A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings. Vol. 2: 1631–1634. Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project. The Hague, 1986, 17, fig. 4, 840.
  • Van der Wetering, Ernst. “Isaac Jouderville, a Pupil of Rembrandt.” In Albert Blankert, Ben Brooks, Ernst van de Wetering, Guido Jansen, and Willem van de Wetering. The Impact of a Genius: Rembrandt, His Pupils and Followers in the Seventeenth Century. Exh. cat. Amsterdam, Waterman Gallery; Groningen, Groninger Museum. Amsterdam, 1983, 66, fig. 9, as by Isaac de Jouderville.
  • Sumowski, Werner. Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler. 6 vols. Landau and Pfalz, 1983–94, 2: 1447, no. 948, as by Isaac de Jouderville.
  • Nakamura, Toshiharu. “Rembrandt’s Workshop and Rembrandt as a Teacher.” In Rembrandt, His Teachers, and His Pupils. Exh. cat. Tokyo, Bunkamura Museum of Art; Chiba, Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art; Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art. Tokyo, 1992, 203.
  • White, Christopher, and Quentin Buvelot, eds. Rembrandt by Himself. Exh. cat. The Hague, Mauritshuis; London, National Gallery of Art. Zwolle, 1999–2000, 139, no. 29b, attributed to Isaac de Jouderville.
  • Bruyn, Josua. “Rembrandt’s Workshop: Function and Production.” In Rembrandt: The Master and His Workshop. Edited by Christopher Brown, Jan Kelch, and Pieter J. J. van Thiel, 72–73, fig. 83, 87.  2 vols. Exh. cat. Berlin, Altes Museum; Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum; London, National Gallery. New Haven, 1991.
  • Van Straten, Roelof. Young Rembrandt: The Leiden Years, 1606–1632. Translated by R. Quartero and D.J. Martin. Leiden, 2005. Originally published as Rembrandt´s Leidse Tijd, 1606–1632. Leiden, 2005, 309, no. 376.
  • Franken, Michiel. “Learning by Imitation: Copying Paintings in Rembrandt’s Workshop.” In Rembrandt: Quest of a Genius. Edited by Bob van den Boogert, 160, no. 172. Exh. cat. Amsterdam, Museum het Rembrandthuis; Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Zwolle, 2006.
  • Surh, Dominique.  “Portrait of Rembrandt in Oriental Dress.” In Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection: The Age of Rembrandt. Edited by Blaise Ducos and Dominique Surh, 40, no. 10. Exh. cat. Paris, Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2017.
  • Yeager-Crasselt, Lara. “Portrait of Rembrandt in Oriental Dress.” In Rembrandt and His Time: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection. Edited by Lara Yeager-Crasselt, 22–3; 172, no. 1. Translated by Li Ying. Exh. cat. Beijing, National Museum of China. Beijing, 2017.
  • Long Museum, West Bund. Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals in the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection. Exh. cat. Shanghai, Long Museum, West Bund. Shanghai, 2017, 44–45.
  • Yeager-Crasselt, Lara. “Portrait of Rembrandt in Oriental Dress.” In The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection. Edited by Polina Lyubimova, 230–31; 248, no. 82. Translated by Daria Babich and Daria Kuzina. Exh. cat. Moscow, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts; St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum. Moscow, 2018.
  • Ducos, Blaise, and Lara Yeager-Crasselt, eds. Rembrandt, Vermeer and the Dutch Golden Age. Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection and the Musée du Louvre. London, 2019, 64, no. 7. [Exhibition catalogue also published in French and Arabic.]

The support is a rectangular composite panel comprising two vertically grained oak planks of similar widths. The vertical panel join left of center extends through the feather plume and the figure’s proper right eye, torso, and proper right shoe. There are no bevels, and the panel has been thinned and cradled. There are eight import stamps, six paper labels, two paper label remnants and two small red wax dots, but no obvious panel maker’s mark.

A light-colored ground has been thinly and evenly applied. The paint has been applied smoothly along the background depicted in shadow and with short strokes of thicker paste and low brushmarkings along the background and foreground depicted in highlight. The figure’s drapery is painted in low impasto.

The painting is inscribed in dark paint along the upper left corner, although this is thought to be a later addition.

No underdrawing is readily apparent in infrared images captured at 780–1000 nanometers. A compositional change visible in the infrared images is the lower edge of the figure’s drapery, which was shortened during the paint stage. The X-radiograph reveals a halo of radio-opaque paint surrounding the upper half of the figure and a rectangular form along the upper left quadrant that was painted out during the paint stage but whose warm underlayer shows through.

The painting has not undergone conservation treatment since its acquisition in 2004 and remains in a good state of preservation.

Further technical information about this artwork is available in The Rembrandt Database.

Versions and Copies

  1. Rembrandt van Rijn, The Artist in Oriental Costume, with a Poodle at His Feet, 1631, oil on panel, 66.5 x 52 cm, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, inv. no. 925.
  2. After Rembrandt, The Artist in Oriental Costume, oil on panel, 35 x 29 cm, Musée d’Archéologie et des Beaux-Arts, Vienna (Isère), no. 80; Corpus A40, Copy 2.
  3. After Rembrandt, The Artist in Oriental Costume, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 24 cm, present whereabouts unknown, formerly estate of F. Mogin-Zorn (sale, Brussels, 26–27 November 1974); Corpus A40, Copy 3.
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