Portrait of a 62-year-old Woman, possibly Aeltje Pietersdr Uylenburgh

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Portrait of a 62-year-old Woman, possibly Aeltje Pietersdr Uylenburgh
Aeltje Uylenburgh, by Rembrandt.jpg
Year 1632
Dimensions 29 in (74 cm) × 22 in (56 cm)
Identifiers RKDimages ID: 34964

Portrait of a 62-year-old Woman, possibly Aeltje Pietersdr Uylenburgh is a 1632 portrait painting painted by Rembrandt. It shows an elderly woman with a small and sober millstone collar. It is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.[1]


Several oval portraits of a woman of 17th-century Amsterdam have survived, and sometimes these were pendants and sometimes they were individual portraits. This painting, without a pendant, has been attributed to Rembrandt since the 19th century. This painting came into the collection via the major gift of Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo, after being on loan from them for an extended period of time.

This painting was documented by Hofstede de Groot in 1914, who wrote; "877. AN OLD LADY WITH A WHITE CAP. Bode 301; Dut. 329; Wb. 315 and 456; B.-HdG. 85. About sixty. Half-length; life size. She sits, inclined to the left, looking out of the picture. Over her bright black gown she wears a cape trimmed with dark fur. She has a flat outstanding ruff; her hair is covered by a close-fitting cap with projecting side-flaps. Grey background. Signed to the right at top, " R H L van Rijn 1632 " ; oval oak panel, 30 inches by 22 inches. Mentioned by Vosmaer, p. 495 ; Michel, p. 435. In the possession of Sm., London, before 1836 [priced at 200] ; sold by him in 1835 to Brondgeest, according to a note in his own copy of his catalogue. In the collection of Baron Alphonse de Rothschild, Paris. In the collection of Baron Henri de Rothschild, Paris."[2]


This portrait was copied and signed H Roos by Johann Heinrich Roos while he was a student of Rembrandt. That copy later came into the collection of Henriette Amalie of Anhalt-Dessau.[3] Another copy was made presumably while the painting was in the British Coesvelt collection and has been in Felbrigg Hall since 1764, when it was recorded as a picture by Rembrandt of his mother.[4]


In 2000 the portrait was sold at Christie's in London as a portrait of the wife of the theologian Johannes Sylvius for nearly 20 million pounds.[5] Aeltje Pietersdr Uylenburgh lived in the minister's residence of the Oude Kerk and was the daughter of Saskia van Uylenburgh's uncle Pieter, making them first cousins, though Aeltje was a generation older and probably served as a guide for the 21-year-old Saskia on her first visit to Amsterdam in the Spring of 1633.[6]

If indeed it is she, though its pendant is lost, an etching of her husband by Rembrandt still exists (the lost original painting would have been reversed so he faced her):


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