Skip to main content

Rembrandt, A Woman bathing in a Stream (Hendrickje Stoffels?)

Key facts
Full title A Woman bathing in a Stream (Hendrickje Stoffels?)
Artist Rembrandt
Artist dates 1606 - 1669
Date made 1654
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 61.8 × 47 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831
Inventory number NG54
Location Room 22
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Woman bathing in a Stream (Hendrickje Stoffels?)

Rembrandt’s painting, unique for him in its tender intimacy, shows a young woman almost up to her knees in a stream. She lifts her shift and looks down with a little smile of pleasure at the cool water rippling against her sturdy legs.

Although it’s not certain, this woman may be Hendrickje Stoffels, who came into Rembrandt’s household to look after his infant son after his first wife, Saskia, died. Hendrickje and Rembrandt became lovers but were unable to marry. In the year this picture was painted, Hendrickje endured public humiliation because she was pregnant outside of marriage. Perhaps the painting was a homage to her strength and loyalty.

It has been suggested that the picture is a study for a biblical heroine in a much larger picture, but the plain shift the woman wears is enough to raise a doubt: such a heroine would have been richly dressed or nude. The most likely possibility is that Rembrandt knew and loved this quiet, gently absorbed woman and shared her delight in an unguarded moment of pleasure in some anonymous Dutch stream.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo