|Museum Het Rembrandthuis|
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Rembrandt etched some twenty portraits between 1633 and 1664. Most of them were commissioned by patrons. As a rule they were intended for use in the sitters’ private circles. In one or two cases we know the reason for the commission. The preacher Jan Cornelis Sylvius, for instance, had his portrait etched by Rembrandt when he left Amsterdam. The prints were intended as mementoes for his friends in Amsterdam. When he died sixteen years later, the plate was printed again. Many of the subjects of these portraits were acquaintances or even friends of Rembrandt’s. Clement de Jonghe was a print dealer. He owned a great many of Rembrandt’s etching plates. The apothecary Abraham Francen was guardian to Rembrandt’s daughter Cornelia. One of Rembrandt’s most admired portraits is that of his friend Jan Six. Rembrandt drew three preliminary studies for this carefully executed print. Two studies, and the etching plate, are still owned by the Six family. Rembrandt’s earliest portraits are simple in structure and technical execution. Later portraits are remarkable for their complex composition and elaborate detailing. Rembrandt was able to achieve painterly effects by combining the etching technique with the use of the drypoint and burin.