Rembrandt van Rijn, ‘"The Kitchen Maid"’, Nationalmuseum

“The Kitchen Maid” is considered by many to be one of Rembrandt’s most representative works. The warm shades of red, brown and yellow, and the vivid depiction of the girl, make this one of his true masterpieces.

One might assume that Rembrandt had a special person, perhaps someone in his household, as a model, someone he knew well, since he has given her such a distinct character. However it was not his Hendrickje, the woman he was living with in 1651. She was 25 years old by then and the girl in “The Kitchen Maid” is probably somewhat younger. In the middle of the 17th century, Rembrandt painted a series of paintings on the borderline between portraits and genre pictures of young women. Nationalmuseum’s collection includes a series of drawings with a similar composition, where the model is resting on her elbows.

Image rights: Public Domain. Photo: Nationalmuseum.

About Rembrandt van Rijn

A prolific painter, draftsman, and etcher, Rembrandt van Rijn is considered the greatest artist of Holland's Golden Age. He worked from direct observation, and despite the evolution of his style over the course of his career, Rembrandt’s compelling descriptions of light, space, atmosphere, modeling, texture, and human affect are the result of intense perceptual study. A prominent portraitist, Rembrandt is most famous for The Night Watch (1642), a monumental painting of militia guards that features Rembrandt’s distinctive use of chiaroscuro.

Dutch, 1606-1669, Leiden, Netherlands, based in Amsterdam and Leiden, Holland