Collection Online
oil on canvas
76.5 × 61.6 cm
Place/s of Execution
the Netherlands
inscribed in black paint (in a later hand) c.r.: Rembrandt / f. 1660
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1933
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
Rembrandt Cabinet
Level 2, NGV International

Between 1629 and his death in 1669, Rembrandt made thousands of drawings of his own face and dozens of painted self-portraits. Of his final self-portraits, which revealed wrinkles and tired skin, he was said to have remarked, ‘I … look for myself and recognize myself. What have I found? Death painted’. For reasons unknown – perhaps for the purpose of instruction – Rembrandt’s assistants collaborated in their master’s obsessive task of of self-documentation.

This painting has long been clouded in controversy. Acquired as a self-portrait by Rembrandt, the work’s attribution has been questioned ever since its arrival in Australia in 1933. While the painting’s history can be firmly traced back to 1756 – when it is known to have been in the collection of Margaret Cavendish, second Duchess of Portland (1715–1785) – Rembrandt scholars have for many years remained divided over its authorship. In 1982 the Rembrandt Research Project declared this painting to be by an unknown artist working in the manner of Rembrandt. More recently, further technical investigation, undertaken by the National Gallery of Victoria’s conservation staff, has encouraged the scholars of the Rembrandt Research Project to reassess the work. They now consider Rembrandt to belong to a group of ‘self-portraits’, made for an as yet undetermined purpose, which originated in Rembrandt’s workshop and were painted before Rembrandt’s own eyes by one or more of his studio assistants.