NO. 9

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Portrait of Marten Looten

Rembrandt proved himself to be a master portraitist with this imposing likeness of Marten Looten, a prominent merchant, who appears to have been interrupted while reading a letter. The portrait was one of Rembrandt’s first commissions after arriving in Amsterdam from Leiden. His skillful rendering of finely diffused light and delicate atmosphere creates a sculptural presence in a neutral space. Looten’s Mennonite faith dictated his rich but sober attire, which Rembrandt captured with subtle distinctions of hue, using both the black beaver hat and cloaked torso as a foil for the sitter’s inquiring expression. The application of paint is relatively thick and opaque throughout, notably in Looten’s hands. Fine, textured brushstrokes describe the bright side of his face while thinner, more transparent application on his left cheek allows it to slip into shadow. The low, dark form of his hat across the forehead and subtle differences between the eyelids contribute to the intensity of his gaze.

Portrait of Marten Looten, 1632. Oil on panel, 36 1/2 x 30 in. (92.71 x 76.2 cm). Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Gift of J. Paul Getty, 53.50.3. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA