Logo: Silhouette of William Hunter

Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery William Hunter Collections:
GLAHA 43786

This information is © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2017

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GLAHM 43786: 'Portrait of a Lady' - click to view larger image

"Portrait of a Lady"

oil painting

ATTR REMBRANDT, Harmensz van Rijn; (Dutch; 1606-1669) ATTR RUBENS, Peter Paul, Sir; (Flemish; 1577-1640) CRE UNKNOWN; (18th century) CRE KONINCK, Philips; (Dutch; 1619-1688)

oil on canvas
53.4 x 44.7 (stretcher) 28.5 x 26.0 (fragment)
From the founder, William Hunter's collection, this painting corresponds to the entry in Laskey's 1813 list: "28 Female head with Turban, Rembrant", but the lady's turban seems to have been removed in early 20th century cleaning. This canvas consists of a fragment of a painting showing just the head of a lady, which has been laid onto another more modern canvas. The image has been extended all round to show more clothing, to bust length. It has a superficial resemblance to the pose of some Rembrandt female head studies, i.e. Hendrickje Stoffels in the Louvre. Hunter had a special interest in Rembrandt, owning a total of five paintings, although now only ones remains in the master's oeuvre. The enlargement of the painting (for the purpose of making a saleable painting) has been carried out in a clumsy way, and it obscures the quality, and disguises the true function of the central fragment. It was originally made as a head study, a 'vrouwentrony'. Rembrandt and the artists in his circle made a practice of painting heads from the life, often decorating them with exotic headdresses and jewellery. The resemblance to Saskia, and a document recording his purchase of pearls that belonged to Saskia from Rembrandt after her death, make it tempting to attribute this head study to Rembrandt's friend the landscape painter Philips Koninck. This painting is probably one of the first paintings bought by Hunter. It appears that he bought two Rembrandts at a sale of pictures belonging to Blackwood, at Langford's in Covent Garden 21-22 February 1749/50. This painting may correspond to no. '66 Rembrandt A Lady's Head 3 qrs'. Another painting described in the sale catalogue as by 'Rembrandt', lot 42, A philosopher in his Study', is possibly Hunter's philosopher now attributed to Carel van der Pluym (GLAHA 43779).

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For more information please contact Malcolm.Chapman@glasgow.ac.uk