Netherlands

The Teenage Rembrandt revealed

Leading scholar believes that the 16-year-old artist features in a Lievens painting

Amsterdam. The earliest depiction of Rembrandt has been identified in a painting by his colleague, Jan Lievens. American art historian Dr Arthur Wheelock, of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, says that Rembrandt is the central figure in The Cardplayers, 1623-24 (detail above), when Rembrandt was aged 16. The painting, owned by a private collector, is currently on show in a Lievens exhibition at the Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam (until 9 August), following its presentation in Washington and Milwaukee. The picture only recently came to light and was sold at Sotheby’s, Amsterdam, on 8 May 2007.

Rembrandt and Lievens studied together in Amsterdam under Pieter Lastman. Dr Wheelock is convinced that Rembrandt was the model for the jovial central figure wearing a blue cloak. The figure is similar to Lievens’ later Portrait of Rembrandt of 1629 (on loan to the Rijksmuseum from a private collection). The closest Rembrandt self-portrait to the image in The Cardplayers is one of 1629-30, Self Portrait in a Gorget (Germanisches National­museum, Nürnberg). The figure in the Lievens painting is a jaunty young man, relishing the fate of the loser in the game.

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