Leveck, Jacobus (attributed to)
Portrait of a Woman probably Hendrickje Stoffels
Half-length portraits form a large sub-genre within Rembrandt’s oeuvre, and he placed particular emphasis on them in 1654-1655. The woman that emerges from the dark background in this painting is likely Hendrickje Stoffels (1625/27-1663), the artist’s common-law wife. Stoffels is first mentioned in documents relating to Rembrandt in 1649—the year he separated from Geertje Dircks. She appeared in a variety of guises in the works by Rembrandt in the latter part of his career. Many of the distinctive features of Hendrickje’s face appear in the present painting: the large almond-shaped eyes, fleshy lips, rounded cheekbones and plump cheeks. But there are also several differences, notably the longer face and larger, more square-cut chin, which create a more vigorous, less delicate look. Nonetheless, the work should be considered an interpretative portrait of the same sitter. The palette used here is clearly much more limited than Rembrandt’s: it includes ochre and umber tones and some red accents, as well as considerable amounts of pure white and black, which is not consistent with Rembrandt’s dynamic approach to colour. This has led to suggest that the portrait is by Jacobus Leveck, a lesser-known Dordrecht portraitist, who likely worked in Rembrandt’s atelier in 1653. The most striking effect of the present painting—the empathy created by its direct rapport with the viewer, which results from the steady gaze and emphasis on the eyes—is a characteristic that marks much of Leveck’s early Rembrandtesque work (from before 1660).