44. Samuel van Hoogstraten

Dordrecht 1627 – 1687 Dordrecht

Self-Portrait at a Window, c. 1642

This long-haired boy, wearing a large bowler hat and buttoned up jacket, is the Dutch painter, draughtsman and writer Samuel van Hoogstraten.1 He sits at an open window, looking intensely at the spectator, his goose quill on a sheet of paper in front of him. He is not looking at us but at himself in the mirror. Not long after being apprenticed to Rembrandt in 1641, the young artist made this self-portrait, probably as a drawing exercise in his master’s workshop.2 The delicately, but hesitantly applied contour lines and the big, rather clumsily drawn hands betray his inexperience as a draughtsman. Presumably, it was Rembrandt himself who corrected the outline of the sitter’s right arm and shoulder with three forceful strokes of his pen. If this is the case, the drawing is a very rare and early example of the way Rembrandt taught his students how to draw. We only know of a handful of drawings by pupils with corrective lines, most of which can be dated to the early 1650s.3

After his apprenticeship to Rembrandt, Van Hoogstraten returned to Dordrecht, where he pursued a career as a painter of history scenes, genre pieces and portraits. He must have taken the drawing with him, because it served as a basis for a painting, which was probably made in Dordrecht around 1650.4 It shows the artist, looking slightly older and wearing a beret, seated in a stone-framed window with an attached shutter. Ben Broos suggested that Van Hoogstraten reworked the drawing in preparation of the painting and added the open shutter with a chain to the composition.5 Eventually, he simplified this feature in the painting, which is shown hanging vertically. The position of the hands, especially the left hand with the ink-well, is directly copied from the drawing. Moreover, Van Hoogstraten seems to have implemented Rembrandt’s corrections. In the painted version the right arm is less extended and closer to the body.

Broos, in his publications on the present drawing, did not describe the print by Ignace-Joseph de Claussin (1766-1844), in which Self-Portrait at a Window appears facing in the same direction as in the drawing.6 Claussin, a French printmaker and collector of Dutch and Flemish drawings, made more than 200 etchings after works of Rembrandt and other artists. Some of these works, including Van Hoogstraten’s self-portrait which he acquired at the sale of Dirk Versteegh (1751-1822) in 1823, came from his own collection. A second print in mirror image, probably a nineteenth-century copy, recently surfaced on the art market.7 It appears to be closer to the original drawing than to the Claussin print. For instance, the printmaker literally copied the black chalk hatching at the right, which seems to represent the shadow of the chain cast on the wall behind. Claussin, freely interpreting this part of the drawing, etched a rope tied to a nail in the wall, rather than a chain.

This anonymous nineteenth-century printmaker could well be someone in the entourage of Louis-Pierre Henriquel-Dupont (1797-1892), a printmaker himself and one of the last owners of the drawn self-portrait. Ignoring the eighteenth-century attribution to Van Hoogstraten on the drawing, he or she boastingly forged the signature of Rembrandt in the upper right corner. MR

1His identity was confirmed by Ben Broos on the basis of two painted self-portraits by the artist in The Hague, Museum Bredius, inv. no. 56-1946 (oil on panel; 63 × 48 cm); and Vienna, Liechtenstein Museum, inv. no. GE-107 (oil on panel; 54 × 45 cm); see Ben Broos, ‘Een onbekend Zelfportret van de Jonge Samuel van Hoogstraten’, Oud Holland 125 (2012), p. 185, figs. 4-5.

2We also know of self-portraits made by Nicolaes Maes (1643-1693), Willem Drost (1633-1659), Heyman Dullaert (1636-1684) and Arent de Gelder (1645-1727) during their apprenticeship to Rembrandt; see ibid., p. 184.

3See on this subject Peter Schatborn, Bij Rembrandt in de leer. Rembrandt as teacher, exh. cat., Amsterdam (Museum Het Rembrandthuis) 1984, pp. 38-43; and Holm Bevers, ‘Drawing in Rembrandt’s workshop’, in Holm Bevers (ed.), Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils: Telling the Difference, exh. cat., Los Angeles (J. Paul Getty Museum) 2009, pp. 1-29.

4St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum, inv. no. ГЭ-788 (oil on canvas; 102 × 79 cm); see Ben Broos, ‘The Young Samuel van Hoogstraten, Corrected by Rembrandt’, in Thijs Weststeijn (ed.), The Universal Art of Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627-1678): Painter, Writer, and Courtier, Amsterdam 2013, p. 88, fig. 29; and https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/explore/artworks.

5Broos 2012, op. cit. (note 1), p. 187.

6London, British Museum, inv. no. 1847,1009.141-50 (etching; 162 × 163 mm); see Erik Hinterding and Jaco Rutgers, Rembrandt (The New Hollstein Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts, 1450-1700), 7 vols., Ouderkerk aan den IJssel 2013, Text I, p. 58, under no. 40, Copies I, p. 23, repr. The etching is executed on a large plate, together with a copy after a print by Rembrandt of an old beggar woman with a gourd.

7Sale, Paris (Binoche and Giquello), 28 June 2017, no. 17, together with one other print. I am grateful to Jaco Rutgers and Bob Haboldt for bringing this print to my attention.

8According to the research of Hélène Sécherre for Haboldt & Co; see Broos 2012, op. cit., (note 1), no. 4, p. 190, note 6.