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
Related Media
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    Audio: Rembrandt Laughing, featuring Anne Woollett