Lot 211
  • 211


80,000 - 120,000 USD
212,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Study of a Woman in a White Cap
  • bears remnants of signature and date center left: Rembrandt f. / 16..[6?]
  • oil on shaped panel


Ferrari Collection, Bergamo, by 1905;
Acquired by the present collector in the 1980s. 


A. J. Rusconi, "Two Pictures by Rembrandt," in The Connoisseur, vol. V, 1905, pp. 195-196, reproduced;
E. van de Wetering, "Rembrandt's oil studies: new light on an old problem," in Rembrandt:  Quest of a Genius, Zwolle and Amsterdam 2006, pp. 188, 191, and 195, reproduced, fig. 217;
E. van de Wetering, A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, vol. VI, The Hague 2015, p. 281, under cat. no. 182;
D. DeWitt, “Study of a Woman in a White Cap,” in The Leiden Collection Catalogue, A. Wheelock Jr (ed.), New York (under versions and copies). 

Catalogue Note

This deftly handled Study of a woman in a white cap provides an intriguing insight into Rembrandt, the greatest painter of the Dutch Golden Age, his studio practices and his teaching methodology.  It depicts a woman in her late 60s turned in profile, her head covered with a white linen cap held in place by an oorijzer (an “ear iron”), which presumably has only been revealed because the flap of her cap has been pulled back.  The sitter’s face is cast in shadow and light falls from the upper left, illuminating only the side of her face and cheek, but lighting all of the folds of her cap.  It is simply a study of light. The prototype of this image is a painting by Rembrandt himself of circa 1640 which only reappeared in 2005 and is now in the Leiden Collection in New York (see Literature). That painting had been in various American collections since the early 20th century and was largely unknown when it was sold in these rooms on 26 January, 2006, lot 10, where it was acquired by the current owner.  In the Leiden Collection Study of a woman in a white cap, Rembrandt presents a masterly study in light and form.  It is clear that given the sitter—who was most likely simply a domestic servant in his own employ rather than a patron— the painting was made as a personal object, a way to work through specific artistic challenges. 

The present panel repeats these challenges and meets them with skill.  Pigment is applied in a free and painterly manner similar to that which Rembrandt used, but not in the dry stroke by stroke fashion of a mere copyist.  It is by an independent hand, and must have been made in Rembrandt’s studio, probably under his direction.  That the painting originated in the workshop is confirmed by a number of factors, not least of which is the history of Rembrandt’s original, which was painted over at an early date to create a more formal portrait.1  This picture reflects the initial composition, and retains the rounded top that was original to the Leiden Collection study.  Dendrochronological analysis of the present panel also places the painting firmly in the right period, with a plausible dating for use from 1635 and upwards. The Leiden painting has been dated stylistically to circa 1640, thus suggesting that the two panels were created within a relatively short period of time.  Those years were a period of great artistic activity in Rembrandt’s studio and a number of important artists were training under him at the time; Govaert Flinck was in the workshop until 1638, and Ferdinand Bol until about 1641.  While it is difficult to say who was the author of this Study of a Woman in a White Cap, it must have been one of Rembrandt’s more talented pupils.


1. Amongst other changes and additions, a sumptuous fur collar was added to the painting in an attempt to create a more commercial image. 

2. A Dendrochronological analysis by Prof. Dr. Peter Klein is available for inspection, noting that the panel is made of one oak board of Western German/Netherlandish origin. He considers a creation of the panel from 1635 upwards to be plausible.