Self-Portrait [Rembrandt van Rijn]

Clayton Schuster

Sr. Contributor

Rivaat Zarlif


Rembrandt's last self-portrait needed a hero...

and George Clooney's heroes stepped up. Not too shabby.

One of Rembrandt's favorite subjects was Rembrandt. He painted what he saw in the mirror more often than just about any artist before or after. Self-portraits bring in cash flow. People buy them up out-right, and they're cheap advertising. It lets the folks with disposable cash feel comfortable that the result of sitting still for 12 hours is worth the trouble.

This Self-Portrait proves that Rembrandt was hustling right up until the end. It couldn't have been long after he finished this that he croaked, considering how much this painting makes him look like crap. #sorrynotsorry. But that's part of what people love. It takes a lot of balls to open up and paint with enough gusto that everyone sees your every imperfection. It's brand management y'all. Can you imagine Kim Kardashian Instagramming a filterless selfie? Same principle the opposite direction.

The painting's laundry list of owners takes a pretty foreseeable turn in World War II. Hitler's goon squad ripped it straight off the walls of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The owners, a wealthy German family with the last name of Rathenau living in New York, lent it to the museum for over 15 years prior to the theft. Luckily, the Monuments Men found Self-Portrait along with thousands of other stolen masterpieces in the Altaussee salt mine before the Nazis could blow the stash up at the end of the war. And now we get to look at this ugly mug for the rest of days.

Rembrandt is the master of somber self-portraits and this one is from a year before he died.

His pale transparent skin is a bad sign, though it could just be bad lighting in his studio. Despite the wear and tear of life, there is a slight smile on Rembrandt's lips and a fashionable hat on his aging head. He looks anything but ready for the afterlife. And indeed, he kept on playing around with new ways to paint, and with being a creative genius, until the very end.


Self-Portrait [Rembrandt van Rijn] is mentioned on Sartle Blog -