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Rembrandt, Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels

Key facts
Full title Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels
Artist Rembrandt
Artist dates 1606 - 1669
Date made probably 1654-6
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 101.9 × 83.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with a contribution from the Art Fund, 1976
Inventory number NG6432
Location Room 19
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels

The sitter – whom Rembrandt did not name – has an almost regal poise. She looks down on us from a slight height, her right hand resting on what must be part of the arm of a chair, but which has the air of a sceptre. She wears expensive pearl earrings and jewellery and what seems to be a fur mantle. All these might hint at the trappings of royalty, yet this is also an intimate – even erotically charged – portrait. Her dress seems to be unfastened and the mantle falls slightly open, revealing much more of her breast than would have been acceptable in a formal portrait of the time.

So this portrait, probably painted in the mid-1650s, is most likely Hendrickje Stoffels, Rembrandt’s housekeeper. They became lovers and, in 1654, had a daughter, Cornelia. A Woman bathing in a Stream, also in the National Gallery’s collection, may be of Hendrickje too – see what you think.

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