Self-Portrait with Saskia
Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669)
Not on View

Rembrandt portrays himself here with his first wife, Saskia van Uylenburgh (1612–1642). Both are attired in 16th-century costume—Saskia with a veil, and Rembrandt with a feathered beret. The image likely began as a study of Saskia, though at some point the artist inserted his own figure decisively looking out (at a mirror) to study himself and his wife. In doing so, he altered the nature of the image and presented various options for its interpretation.

On the one hand, as the only formal double portrait of the couple, the etching belongs to the subgenre of marriage portraiture, as Saskia bears witness to her husband’s occupation. On the other hand, the image may allude to the theme of love as the source of artistic creativity. A popular Dutch motto, “Liefde baart kunst” (“Love brings forth art”), captures this idea. That Rembrandt depicts himself as momentarily interrupted in the occupation of drawing is confirmed by his porte-crayon, a two-ended holder for his medium. Drawing, or disegno, reigned supreme in the artistic theory of the period. Since drawing was viewed as the most vivid, pristine record of what emanates from the artist’s imagination, it is hardly coincidence that Rembrandt depicted himself thus engaged.


  • Artist Name: Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669)
  • Title: Self-Portrait with Saskia
  • Date: 1636
  • Medium: Etching
  • Edition: State I
  • Dimensions: plate: 4-1/8 x 3-11/16 in. (10.5 x 9.4 cm); sheet: 4-1/4 x 3-3/4 in. (10.8 x 9.5 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1977.32.027.G
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Rembrandt: Prints "of a Particular Spirit"

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2017-12-08 to 2018-03-05
Hinterding, Erik; Rutgers, Jaco, The New Hollstein Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts, 1450-1700 Rembrandt, pp. 7-9, no. 158
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 1452 p. 408

Additional Artwork by Artist

Beggar Leaning on a Stick, Facing Left Rembrandt van Rijn c. 1630
Christ at Emmaus: the Larger Plate Rembrandt van Rijn 1654
Clement de Jonghe, Printseller Rembrandt van Rijn 1651

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