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Rembrandt, Self Portrait at the Age of 34

Key facts
Full title Self Portrait at the Age of 34
Artist Rembrandt
Artist dates 1606 - 1669
Date made 1640
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 91 × 75 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1861
Inventory number NG672
Location On loan: National Treasures, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Brighton, UK
Collection Main Collection
Self Portrait at the Age of 34

This is one of dozens of self portraits by Rembrandt. We see the artist in confident pose – self-assured, dressed in expensive-looking fur and velvet, his hat laced with jewels. But, though he is a Dutchman living in the 1640s, Rembrandt is wearing the clothes of a gentleman of the 1520s and his pose is based on paintings by Dürer, Titian and Raphael from a similar date. So, as the subject of the painting, Rembrandt is portraying himself as a Renaissance gentleman, and as the artist he is both paying homage to and directly comparing himself with the most famous artists of that time.

The implications of this double echo would certainly have been understood by Rembrandt’s sophisticated clientele. By taking the pose and clothes of a gentleman he was claiming a much higher social status than was usually afforded to artists at the time. And by citing the works of three of the greatest Renaissance painters, he is implying that he is their equal.

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