The J. Paul Getty Museum

Rembrandt Laughing

Object Details


Rembrandt Laughing


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




Netherlands (Place Created)


about 1628


Oil on copper

Object Number:



22.2 × 17.1 cm (8 3/4 × 6 3/4 in.)

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Object Description

Intently interested in the expression of human emotion, Rembrandt often used himself as his own model in his early years as an independent master in Leiden. Here, in a small and freely painted work, he appears in the guise of a soldier, relaxed and engaging the viewer with a laugh.

For this sophisticated self-portrait, painted at age twenty-one or twenty-two, Rembrandt combines a study of character and emotion (known in Dutch as a tronie) with a rare jovial self-presentation. The lively, short brushwork in the face and brisk handling of the neutral background convey a sense of spontaneity and immediacy.

This is one of a small number of paintings by Rembrandt from the late 1620s executed on copper. He signed it in the upper-left corner with his monogram of interlocking letters, "RHL" (Rembrandt Harmenszoon Leidensis), which he used only briefly, from late 1627 to early 1629.

Art + Ideas Podcast: Anne Woollett on Rembrandt Laughing

about 1957 - 2007

Private Collection (Gloucestershire, England) [sold, Moore, Allen & Innocent, Norcote, Gloucestershire, October 26, 2007, lot 377, as "A follower of Rembrandt, The Young Rembrandt as Democretes (sic) the laughing philosopher, a portrait study" to Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox.]

2007 - 2013

Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013.

De Lachende Rembrandt (June 7 to December 2008)
  • Museum Het Rembrandthuis (Amsterdam), June 7 to December 2008
Guest of Honor: Rembrandt Laughing (April 9 to July, 2010)
  • Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth), April 9 to July 2010
Rembrandt Laughing (September 1 to November 28, 2010)
  • Denver Art Museum (Denver), September 1 to November 28, 2010
Rembrandt Laughing Toledo (January 28 to May 8, 2011)
  • Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo), January 28 to May 8, 2011
Young Rembrandt / De Jonge Rembrandt (November 1, 2019 to November 1, 2020)
  • The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, February 27 to November 1, 2020

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Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. (Esslingen a.N: Paul Neff, 1907-28), vol. 6 (1915), p. 257, no. 601a.

Bauch, Kurt. Rembrandt Gemälde (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1966), pp. 30-31, no. A25, ill.

Chapman, H. Perry. Rembrandt's Self-Portraits: A Study in Seventeenth-Century Identity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), p. 38, fig. 42 (as lost).

van de Wetering, Ernst. "'Rembrandt Laughing,' c. 1628 - a painting resurfaces." Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis (2007), pp. 18-40, ill.

Wetering, Ernst van de. Rembrandt: A Life in 180 Paintings (Amsterdam: Local World, 2008), p. 42, ill.

Wetering, Ernst van de. Rembrandt: The Painter at Work. Rev. ed. (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009), frontispiece ill.

Wetering, Ernst van de. Nouveau regard sur Rembrandt (Amsterdam: Local World BV, 2009), pp. cv-xviii, pls. V16, V21.

Wetering, Ernst van de. A Corpus of Rembrant Paintings. Murray Pearson, ed. and trans. 5 vols. (Dordrecht: Springer, 1982-2011), vol. 5 (2011), pp. 156-57, 162, 659, addenda to vols. 1-4 (side A), ill.

Chapman, H. Perry. "Rembrandt's Laughter and the Love of Art." In Midwestern Arcadia: Essays in Honor of Alison Kettering (Northfield, MN: Carleton College, 2014), passim, fig. 2, (accessed July 9, 2014).

Weller, Dennis P. "The Closer You Are, the More You See." In Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals and Their Contemporaries, exh. cat. Dennis P. Weller, ed. (Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of Art, 2014), p. 17, fig. 19.

Quodbach, Esmée, ed. Holland's Golden Age in America. Collecting Art of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals, exh. cat. (New York: The Frick Collection, 2015), p. xviii, ill.

Woollett, Anne T. "Golden Opportunities: Collecting Rembrandt in Southern California." In Holland's Golden Age in America: Collecting the Art of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals, exh. cat. Esmée Quodbach, ed. (New York: The Frick Collection, 2015), pp. 168-181.

White, Christopher. "The Rembrant Research Project and its denouement." The Burlington Magazine 157, no. 1343 (Feburary, 2015), p. 73.

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Fredericksen, Burton B. The Burdens of Wealth: Paul Getty and His Museum (Bloomington: Archway Publishing, 2015), p. 455.

O'Neill, Francis and Sofia Palazzo Corner. "Rembrandt's self-portraits." Journal of Optics 18 (2016), (accessed July 15, 2016), pp. 3, 6, 7, fig. 4.

Schnackenburg, Bernhard. Jan Lievens: Friend and Rival of the Young Rembrandt, with a Catalogue Raisonné of his Early Leiden Work 1623-1632. Kristin Lohse Belkin, trans. (Petersberg: Michael Imhoff Verlag and the author, 2016), pp. 76, 143, ill.

Schnackenburg, Bernhard. Jan Lievens: Freund und Rivale des Jungen Rembrandt, mit einem Kritischen Katalog des Leidener Frühwerks 1623-1632 (Petersberg: Michael Imhoff Verlag and the author, 2016), pp. 76, 143, ill.

Potts, Timothy. "Recent acquisitions (2013–16) at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles." The Burlington Magazine 159, no. 1368, Supplement (March 2017), pp. 257, 263, fig. 13.

Allan, Scott, Davide Gasparotto, Peter Björn Kerber, and Anne T. Woollett. Masterpieces of Painting: J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018), pp. 12, 78, ill.

Van Camp, An. "Rembrandt’s Early Works on Paper." In Young Rembrandt, exh. cat. Christopher Brown, An Van Camp, and Christaan Vogelaar, eds. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2019), p. 63.

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Brown, Christopher, An Van Camp, and Christaan Vogelaar, eds. Young Rembrandt, exh. cat. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2019), pp. 103-5, no. 15, entry by An Van Camp, ill.