Rembrandt Laughing

Object Details


Rembrandt Laughing


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




Netherlands (Place created)


about 1628


Oil on copper


22.2 x 17.1 cm (8 3/4 x 6 3/4 in.)

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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 21 or 22, 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.

about 1957 - 2007

Private Collection (Gloucestershire, England) [sold, Moore, Allen & Innocent, Norcote, Gloucestershire, Oct. 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, 2008 - December 2008)
  • Museum Het Rembrandthuis, (Amsterdam), June 7 to December, 2008
Guest of Honor: Rembrandt Laughing (April 9, 2010 - July, 2010)
  • Kimbell Art Museum, (Fort Worth), April 9 to July, 2010
Rembrandt Laughing (September 1, 2010 - November 28, 2010)
  • Denver Art Museum, (Denver), September 1 to November 28, 2010
Rembrandt Laughing Toledo (January 28, 2011 - May 8, 2011)
  • Toledo Museum of Art, (Toledo), January 28 to May 8, 2011

Moes, E.W. Iconographia Batava: Beredeneerde lijst van geschilderde en gebeeldhouwde portretten van Noord-Nederlanders in vorige eeuwen. 2 vols. (Amsterdam: Frederick Muller & Co., 1897-1905), vol. 2 (1905) p. 310, no. 6693.6.

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).

Wetering, Ernst van de. "'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. XV-XVIII, pl. 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. I-IV (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.

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

Wetering, Ernst van de, and Carin van Nes. A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings: Rembrandt's Paintings Revisited - A Complete Survey. Murray Pearson, ed. and trans. 6 vols. (Dordrecht: Springer, 1982-2015), vol. 6 (2015) pp. 56, 69, 84, 481-82, 487, 490, 496, 527, no. 18, ill.

Related Media
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    Audio: Rembrandt Laughing, featuring Anne Woollett