Rembrandt: Self Portrait with Two Circles
One of Rembrandt’s greatest masterpieces, and arguably the definitive self- portrait, Self Portrait with Two Circles is getting a new frame. The occasion is the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt's death which is being marked at Kenwood House by Rembrandt #nofilter, a temporary display of the painting alongside a new, digital artwork based on the painting.
Normally hanging in the Dining Room at Kenwood House, with other distinguished old master paintings, largely from the Dutch Golden Age of painting, Self Portrait with Two Circles is framed in a French, mid 18th century, carved and gilded rococo frame. This is almost certainly the frame put on it by a previous owner, the renowned collector of 17th century art, Claude-Alexandre de Villeneuve, Comte de Vence, and mentioned in the catalogue of his sale, 11 February 1761, lot 42, as in a carved and gilded frame. The frame is a visual testament to this period in the provenance of the painting and as such is important.
The painting has perhaps retained the current frame for its grandeur and opulence. The protruding centres and corners and richly carved and gilded rococo ornament confer on the painting an importance that successive owners would have understood and desired for such a celebrated painting.
The Dining Room, Kenwood House
Now moved, just a few feet to the adjacent Dining Room Lobby, Self Portrait with Two Circles is displayed in isolation, hung on a specially built white wall.
Taken out of its carved and gilded French frame it is now framed by Wiggins in a specially commissioned copy of a Dutch 17th century ebonised fruit wood Scotia frame, contemporary with the painting. An altogether different aesthetic and one that Rembrandt would have been familiar with.
The reframing and re-presentation of Rembrandt’s Self Portrait with Two Circles is an opportunity to re-discover and look anew at this masterpiece.
I am grateful to Louise Cooling, EH Assistant Curator, Kenwood, for her assistance.
Rembrandt #nofilter will run from 4th October 2019 - 12th January 2020