Jewels in Late Rembrandt
The Jewish Bride, the 2 paintings of Lucretia, Lady with Lapdog and Lady with Ostrich Feather are some examples of paintings in Late Rembrandt in which you can see jewels. We would like to highlight Portrait of Catharina Hoogsaet and Juno, and the aspects of their jewellery.
Portrait of Catharina Hoogsaet (1657)
In 1657, after his bankruptcy, Catharina Hoogsaet (1607-1685) commissioned her portrait with Rembrandt. The, compared to other portraits in the Golden Age, modest way of dressing, says nothing about her wealth, but everything about her religion. Her grandfather was a prominent Mennonite, and Catharina wears the clothes appropriate for a woman of that religion. That same year, Catharina adds a codicil to her will, in which she describes the garments and jewellery she wears in this portrait:
‘a new silk gown and new silk petticoat [and] small [under]sleeves’ as well as one of her ‘best partlets with collars around the neck, embroidered coifs’, her ‘golden ear-iron and gold needle and her pearl pin’.
The 'gold needle' is the jewel that pops out from under her bonnet near her temple. Such 'forehead pins', as they are known in Holland, formed integral part of Dutch regional costumes for centuries. The interesting thing is that the traditional way of dress in the countryside was based predominantly on fashion in the city.
Some examples of 19th century Dutch forehead needles from our collection: - by Gebroeders Goedhart, Hoorn- by M. Hoonee, Alkmaar
Juno (ca. 1660-65)
In his commissioned portraits, Rembrandt was bound to the realistic depiction of the jewellery of the sitter. In his free work, he could employ his imagination, for example in this painting of the goddess Juno, mistress of the heavens. This is clearly visible in her breast jewel: such a sequence of large sapphires is rather unlikely in reality.
An interesting detail is the crown, which is the Etruscan model, consisting of a range of vertically placed fringes, which is quite different from how we know crowns nowadays. The crown of the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany, the heartland of the Etruscan civilization, was made in a similar fashion. On paintings, especially those from the 17th and 18th centuries, we often see goddesses wearing such crowns as well.
In 1604 the painter Karel van Mander published his Schilderboeck, in which he listed the rules for the depiction of figures. About Juno he wrote:
'Juno [..] holds in one hand a King's sceptre..., on her head she has radiating beams. She has the sceptre because she is the goddess of wealth. The peacock is her bird. [..] Juno was very splendid with her garments: she had a very beautiful blood red scarlet gown, and a blue mantle, pearls, gemstones and jewels everywhere.'
Apparently, Rembrandt followed Van Mander's instructions quite closely.