Self Portrait1629 by Rembrandt van Rijn

Alternate titles: Self Portrait at an Early Age, Self Portrait as a Young Man

In his 63 years on earth, Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn (1606-1669) painted 88 self portraits. He first painted himself in his twenties. They are masterful, proud, and just a bit cocky – the new kid on the block hanging out his shingle as a portrait painter. Caravaggio had already come and gone, alerting Rembrandt’s generation to the splendors and mysteries of raking light.

Even as an inexperienced young artist, Rembrandt did not shy away from experimenting. Here the light glances along his right cheek, while the rest of his face is veiled in shadow. It takes a while to realize that the artist is gazing intently out at us. Using the butt end of his brush, Rembrandt made scratches in the still wet paint to accentuate the curls of his tousled hair.
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Media: oil on panel