Hendrickje Stoffels – Rembrandt

Hofstede de Groot wrote of this picture in l’Art Flamand in 1909 and there pronounced it to be a work of Rembrandt of about 1656 and to represent Hendrickje Stoffels. Hendrickje was a peasant girl from North Holland who came to Rembrandt’s house at first as a servant. She soon rose to a position of intimacy with her master and remained with him a long time. She was the model for many pictures, in some of which she is shown as a person of pleasant appearance, the most prominent example being the famous picture in the Louvre, painted about 1652. There is also an attractive likeness of her at Berlin, the date of which is about 1656. The woman in our picture has no great claim to good looks, and a shadow on the upper lip does not add to her charms.

Dr. Valentiner, agreeing with De Groot, writes of the work as follows: “Although, it may be added, this portrait of Hendrickje reveals the comfortable kindliness and gentleness of her nature, it lacks the charm of some others-for example, of the one in the Museum at Berlin. Hendrickje, it should be remembered, was merely a girl of the people, and into so simple a model Rembrandt could not always read his own ideas, especially when, as seems here to have been the case, his main concern was for a special problem of light and shade.”

This picture comes from the collection of J. Osmaston in England.