Nude Woman with a Snake

Object Details

Title:

Nude Woman with a Snake

Artist/Maker(s):

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669)

Culture:

Dutch

Date:

about 1637

Medium:

Red chalk with white gouache heightening

Dimensions:

24.7 x 13.7 cm (9 3/4 x 5 3/8 in.)

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Who is this woman? She stands nude, squeezing her breast with one hand while holding a large snake behind her with her other hand. The snake, the headdress, and her bared breast suggest that Rembrandt meant to depict Cleopatra, although recent scholars have suggested that the figure has certain aspects of Eve. In fact, Rembrandt used this drawing as the basis for his depiction of Eve in his drawing and subsequent etching Adam and Eve of 1638.

Rembrandt applied red chalk energetically, describing the swell of the woman's belly with strong horizontal strokes. Vertical shading along her legs conveys her body's taut strength. He also exploited the brilliance and luminosity of the red chalk by applying white gouache underneath it, particularly in the woman's arm and torso. The glowing quality of the red chalk with white underneath and the solid three-dimensionality of form create a sense of energy radiating from her.

Exhibitions
Catalogue descriptif des dessins des maîtres anciens (May - June 1879) (cat. no. 371)
  • École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, (Paris), May to June, 1879
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (May 24 to August 8, 1993) (90)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), May 24 to August 8, 1993
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994) (90)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994
Figure Drawings (December 17, 1996 to April 6, 1997) (90)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), December 17, 1996 to April 6, 1997
Master Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998) (90)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998
Red Chalk Drawings (March 16 to May 30, 1999) (90)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 16 to May 30, 1999
Rembrandt's Women (June 8 to December 16, 2001) (90)
  • National Gallery of Scotland, (Edinburgh), June 8 to September 2, 2001
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), September 22 to December 16, 2001
Rembrandt's Journey: Painter, Draftsman, Etcher (October 26, 2003 to May 9, 2004) (90)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, October 26, 2003 to January 19, 2004
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, February 14 to May 9, 2004
Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils: Telling the Difference (December 8, 2009 to February 28, 2010) (3.1)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 8, 2009 to February 28, 2010
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