The Artist's Mother, Head and Bust, Three-Quarters Right Rembrandt Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Rembrandt would feature his mother, Neeltgen Willemsdochter van Zuytbrouck, many times within his career in both paintings and also etchings. This example captures her bust-length, staring off to our right in a fairly relaxed manner.

The means by which we can differentiate the many different portraits produced by Rembrandt is to give many of them highly descriptive titles, and this piece for example is often known as The Artist's Mother, Head and Bust, Three-Quarters Right for that purpose. There are many etchings of his mother alone, many of which are fairly similar. The artist also learnt to create an extra stream of income by producing prints from some of these etchings which was one of the benefits of this medium. He could then sell these on relatively cheaply which helped to spread his reputation into lower income households which further strengthened the Rembrandt brand. He also loved to purchase other artist's work for his collection, and so any additional funds would always come in very useful.

Whilst calling on the services of etching specialists for advice, Rembrandt was still fairly secretive about his own methods once he had been using this medium for a period of time. Etching was a fairly hands-on technique which involved several different stages to the process, but this artist would have appreciated the ability to produce prints and then go back and make further adjustments several times, which meant that each design could evolve over time. This approach made it important that the artist would document each series of prints, and number each one so that their uniqueness and value could be estimated more accurately. One can even compare different versions to see some of the tweaks made by the artist to the original etching.

There were probably a considerable number of prints made from this etching because many still exist within some high profile collections today. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art holds one themselves and their entry on it confirms the identify of the model as being that of Neeltgen Willemsdr. van Zuytbroeck who sadly passed away around twelve years after this artwork was produced in 1628. This year also featured a number of other memorable etchings and so clearly the artist was working hard in this medium at the time. Rembrandt was relatively new to this discipline at this time, but was clearly already highly accomplished in delivering precise portraits.