NO. 13

Norton Simon Museum

Portrait of a Boy

The directness and sensitivity of Rembrandt’s portrayal of this engaging young boy in semi-historical dress led to its previous identification as the artist’s son, Titus. Although that identification is now rejected, the identity of the sitter and function of the painting, either as a fragment of a larger group portrait or an independent likeness, remains undetermined. The unfinished state of the painting permits insight into Rembrandt’s technique: worked over a mid-brown priming, individual broad strokes whose beginning and end are clearly visible suggest the general form of the boy’s torso. Finely rendered strokes model the more fully described face, and red plumes on the soft black hat are quite freely handled. The loosely executed form on the boy’s left arm may be an animal, possibly a monkey. Rembrandt adopted this frontal pose in later monumental figures such as Saint Bartholomew (no. 7) and Juno (no. 2).

Portrait of a Boy, about 1655–60. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 22 1/2 in. (64.8 x 55.9 cm). The Norton Simon Foundation, Pasadena, F.1965.2.P