Catalogue No. 25
Portrait of Pieter Six

Artist: Rembrandt, Harmenszoon van Rijn
Portrait of Pieter Six

1606-69
Oil on Canvas 37 x 29½ ins Signed: Rembrandt f.

Collection Details
According to Hofstede de Groot (infra), this, and the portrait of an Unknown Woman at Buscot, were ‘bought in an obscure village in Holland for a trifling sum, and imported in 1817, by Mr Woodburn’ (ie, Samuel Woodburn, collector and dealer).  By 1824 (BI exhibition), both pictures were in the collection of George Agar Ellis, in 1831 created Lord Dover (d.1833), and they remained in the family’s possession (lent to 1844 and 1851 exhibitions by Lady Dover, to 1863 exhibition by her son, who had succeeded as 3rd Viscount Clifden) until sold by the 4th Viscount Clifden, Christie’s, 6 May 1893, the present painting being lot 20 (with provenance of a descendant of Jan Six): bt by Wentworth; with Agnew, 1894, when bought by Alexander Henderson, later 1st Lord Faringdon.

Literature
Smith, Catalogue Raisonné, 1836, vii, No. 350; Waagen, Treasures of Art, 1854, ii, p. 335; Bode and Hofstede de Groot, Complete Works of Rembrandt, 1901, v, No. 368, repd; A Rosenberg and W R Valentiner, Rembrandt (Klassiker der Kunst), 1908, p. 349, repd; Hofstede de Groot, Dutch Painters, 1916, vi, No. 735;  A Bredius, Paintings of Rembrandt, 1937, No. 265, repd; J Rosenberg, Rembrandt, 1948, i, pp. 45–6; ii, Pl. 67; K Bauch, Rembrandt Gemälde, 1966, p. 391, repd and p. 20 of notes; H Gerson, Rembrandt Paintings, 1968, pp. 344, repd, 498, No. 250; idem, revision of Complete Edition of Paintings by Bredius, 1971, No. 265, repd p. 203, pp. 569–70; J R Voûte, ‘Clement de Jonghe exit’, De Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis, 1987/i, pp. 26–7, figs 4, 5.

Exhibition Details
BI, 1824, No. 56; 1844, No. 54; 1851, No. 89; 1863, No. 26; RA, Winter, 1899, No. 38; RA, Winter, Dutch Art, 1929, No. 93; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Rembrandt, 1932, No. 25; Brussels, International Exhibition, Cinq Siècles d’Art, 1935, No. 761; Arts Council, Dutch 17th Century Paintings, 1945, No. 26; Arts Council, Edinburgh, Rembrandt, 1950, No. 26; RA, Winter, Dutch Pictures, 1952, No. 165.

Companion Picture
The portrait of an Unknown Woman at Buscot (No. 31), at one time called the wife of Burgomaster Six, has always been treated as a pair.  In view of this, it is possible, as suggested in the 1950 Arts Council Exhibition catalogue, that the two portraits may represent husband and wife.  It seems, however, more likely that one or other of two unrelated portraits was modified in order to form a pendant.

Background
The identity of the sitter is uncertain.  Although catalogued by Smith as an unknown man, it was referred to by Waagen and until 1929 in the catalogues of the exhibitions at which it was shown as a portrait of Jan Six.  This identification was refuted by Bode, who catalogued it as an anonymous sitter.  The hypothesis that it represents Clement de Jongh was first put forward by Schmidt-Degener in the catalogue of the 1932 Amsterdam Exhibition, and this was generally accepted until recently.  De Jongh, a well-known publisher of prints in Amsterdam from 1640 until his death in 1679, is the first known collector of Rembrandt’s graphic art.
 
The identification was based on the similarity to the 1651 etching of de Jongh (cf L Munz, Catalogue of Rembrandt’s Etchings, 1952, No. 72, repd).  The features undoubtedly resemble each other closely, but the personalities as they appear on canvas and in print differ considerably.  Allowing for Rembrandt’s ability to alter an expression by an inflexion of line (cf Munz, op cit), it remains difficult to reconcile the melancholy character in the painting with the assertive figure in the etching.

J R Voûte has now suggested (op cit) that this portrait is of Pieter Six, the elder brother of Rembrandt’s great patron and collector, Burgomaster Jan Six, whom he was to paint in 1654.  He bases this identification upon the sitter’s likeness to a young man in a drawing in the Six collection traditionally known as Pieter Six.  The one difficulty with this identification is that the portrait should have left the Six collection under such obscure circumstances.

Smith, not very perceptively, describes the portrait as painted in the artist’s ‘finished or laboured manner’.  It was dated c.1652 by Bode, who was followed by Hofstede de Groot (1916), and in references subsequent to the 1932 exhibition, it has been assigned the same date as the etching of de Jongh (1651).  Although that connection is no longer relevant, it clearly belongs to the early 1650s – for a close comparison, see the 1652 portrait of Nicholas de Bruyningh at Cassel (Bauch, op cit, dates it c.1644 on the assumption that it is a companion to No. 31 at Buscot).  The commissioned portraits of this period included some of Rembrandt’s greatest works, and in his monograph of 1948, Rosenberg specified the Buscot painting as one of them.