Self Portrait with Plumed Cap and Lowered Sabre 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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Several versions of this etching exist, where the artist would have tweaked the piece several times as the artwork progressed. Many prints were produced from it, and have been discovered within a number of different collections.

There still exists some controversy of whether Self-Portrait with Plumed Cap and Lowered Sabre from 1634 is actually a self portrait at all. We do know that Rembrandt created a large number of self portrait etchings from around 1628 up to this point, some of which had similarly extravagant outfits, as found here. In all likelihood, this is the artist that we are looking at here, but the style in which he is captured is just a little different from the norm. We can identify his curly hair which dominates many of these artworks, as well as his beady eyes. His nose looks a little narrower than in other portraits, and perhaps he here is just tweaking his own look in order to appear more attractive. It looks like Rembrandt, but through the lens of how he wanted to appear to others. Normally, he would be far more honest, almost brutally so and that had become a part of his charm.

We know that he liked costumes and some have suggested that he might have become an actor were it not for his qualities as an artist. He would play the roles of different characters within some of his other artworks and liked the creative challenge of choosing and arranging different outfits, with assortments of hats and jewellery. This was an exciting time within the history of fashion, for those lucky enough to afford some of the finer designs. He was generally comfortable with his own appearance and had started to turn himself into a recognisable brand via the prints from his etchings that could be sold at very reasonable prices. Many living outside even his national boundaries would have recognised Rembrandt because of this successful marketing and financial push.

This particular design features a charming plumed cap as well as a multi-layered outfit which oozes wealth and power. His pose looks somewhat arrogant, certainly confident, but we must remember that he went through a diverse range of expressions within his self portraits and so you should not assume anything about his character from this. He loved emotion, and attempted to capture it within each and every artwork that he produced, sometimes focusing on himself, and sometimes others. In some of his more elaborate paintings, there would be countless numbers of figures who each became alive once his skills of portraiture has been implemented.