REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
(b. 1606, Leiden, d. 1669, Amsterdam)

Family Group

Oil on canvaas, 126 x 167
Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig

Catalogue number: Bredius 417.

This family portrait is one of the last pictures painted by Rembrandt. It is undated but must have been made in the last years of his life. It is in his very bold late manner; the paint applied in broad strokes, the surface texture built up with both the brush and palette knife. However, in the faces there is a more careful build-up of layers of paint in which Rembrandt used small brushes to describe the details of the features. There is, as in many of the late works, a concentration upon essentials. The garden setting is indicated in the most rudimentary manner and the mother's skirt is an undifferentiated expanse of warm orange paint.

It is interesting to contrast this broad technique with the Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem of 1630, with its thin and sparing application of paint onto panel and details scratched into the wet paint with the end of a brush. The portrait of Agatha Bas is equally controlled and precise but later, as in the Jan Six of 1654 and the Titus of the following year, the paint layers become increasingly thick with form being indicated by single strokes of a loaded brush. The style of The Jewish Bride and of the Family Group is Rembrandt's last manner in which the depiction of form is almost reduced to two dimensions and there is a delight in the patterns of paint on the surface of the canvas. It was this style that Rembrandt's last pupil, Aert de Gelder, was to adopt and continue to employ well into the eighteenth century. Unfortunately the family have not been identified.

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