Rembrandt’s Self-portrait with Gorget (c.1629)

Scholars have sometimes wondered why the young Rembrandt painted himself wearing a gorget, the metal collar worn by soldiers of the period, when he himself was never in the military. The answer, as always, lies in the metaphorical life of the artist’s mind. Once the viewer knows that all scenes of battles by poetic artists are really the creative battles taking place within themselves, then one can understand why Rembrandt, in recognizing this as a young artist, would paint himself in military gear. Like great masters before him, he was ready for battle.

An earlier example that Rembrandt would have known is Giorgione’s Self-portrait as David with the Head of Goliath.

Captions for image(s) above:

Rembrandt, Self-portrait with Gorget (1629) Oil on panel. Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Click image to enlarge.


Original Publication Date on EPPH: 20 Apr 2010. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.