Object: Woman bathing her feet at a brook
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|Title||Woman bathing her feet at a brook|
van Rijn, Rembrandt (artist), 1658, Amsterdam
x 80mm (Width)
Support: 161mm (Height) x 83mm (Width)
Frame: 485mm (Height) x 435mm (Width)
|Credit line||Gift of Sir John Ilott, 1952|
This etching by Rembrandt demonstrates his skill in presenting the figure in a realistic manner. The woman in the image is seated on a cushion on a chair the back of which is visible behind her. She appears to be drying her hands on the towel beside her. Research indicates that the image began as a studio figure study which Rembrandt changed to a scene outdoors by introducing foliage behind the figure and suggesting that there was a brook or small river in which her lower legs were immersed.
Seventeenth-century Dutch art
Rembrandt worked on figure studies throughout his career, though he etched only eight female nudes. Woman Bathing Her Feet at a Brook belongs to the last of the three groups of nudes he etched and dates from between 1658 and 1661. Rembrandt has made no attempt to idealise the figure or suggest any other classical or narrative references in the title. In this respect it is typical of the genre subjects of seventeenth-century Dutch art, which often featured ordinary citizens engaged in everyday activities.
Light and dark
The sensuality of the scene lies in the frank presentation of the figure of the woman, and is aided by the use Rembrandt made of dramatic contrasts of light and dark. The dark background gives the figure prominence, creating shadows that suggest varying skin tones. These underpin the depiction of a flesh and blood human being.
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