Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), and Studio, Portrait of a Woman, 1635 or earlier, oil on wood, Framed: 97.7 x 83.8 x 6.4 cm (38 1/2 x 33 x 2 1/2 in.); Unframed: 77.5 x 64.8 cm (30 1/2 x 25 1/2 in.). The Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Collection, 1944.90 © The Cleveland Museum of Art.
At the age of 25, Rembrandt moved from his hometown of Leiden to the bustling city of Amsterdam. Within a few years he had become one of the city’s most successful portrait painters, creating remarkably vivid likenesses that seemed to express the personality and soul of the sitter. Here, Rembrandt used smooth, fluid brushstrokes to recreate the soft texture of the woman’s skin. In contrast, thicker, more textured strokes draw attention to the lavish display of her lace collar and gold jewelry—details sure to please a wealthy client. The extraordinary demand at that time for a portrait by Rembrandt meant that in many cases (including, probably, this painting) he called upon assistants to help complete the work.