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Rembrandt’s Portrait(s) of Frederik Rihel

Marjorie E. Wieseman
Technical Bulletin Volume 31, 2010


In 2008 a full X-radiograph was recorded of Rembrandt’s Portrait of Frederik Rihel on Horseback (NG 6300) for the first time, revealing another composition beneath the painting now visible. This earlier painting, made with the canvas turned 90 degrees anti-clockwise, depicts a man standing at full length in a landscape setting.

While Rembrandt (like other Dutch artists) is known to have painted on previously used supports, most of these ‘palimpsests’ date from the early part of his career and of those, the majority are self portraits. Only a handful of ‘palimpsest’ paintings date from the 1650s and later.

The use of a recycled canvas for such a large painting, and more importantly, for a commissioned portrait, appears to be unique in Rembrandt’s oeuvre. The article examines the implications of this new finding for the understanding of Rembrandt’s working process, and the evolution of the specific portrait commission.


Rembrandt, Frederik Rihel, Amsterdam, palimpsest, X-ray, X-radiograph, infrared photograph, ground, ‘quartz’ ground, smalt

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Rembrandt’s Portrait(s) of Frederik Rihel, Marjorie E. Wieseman (PDF 18MB)

To cite this article we suggest using

Wieseman, M., 2010. 'Rembrandt’s Portrait(s) of Frederik Rihel'. National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol 31, pp 96–111.

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