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Joseph Mallord William Turner, Rembrandt’s Daughter (1827)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at  Rembrandt’s Daughter (1827) by Joseph Mallord William Turner.

About the Work

Title : Rembrandt’s Daughter
Artist : Joseph Mallord William Turner
Year : 1827
Medium : Oil on canvas
Dimensions : 121.9 × 89.5 cm (48 × 35 1/4 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Rembrandt’s Daughter

The painting Rembrandt’s Daughter by Turner depicts an interesting play of light and shadow. The work shows a young lady playfully leaning against a chair while reading a letter. In the background we see two people emerge from the shadows. The lady almost seems not to acknowledge the presence of others in the chamber, as she reads with great concentration.

Turner’s masterful brushwork is evident through the folds of the drapery that decorates the scene. From the young lady’s dress to the curtain-like fabric hanging to her right, we see a play of light and shadow. These features are characteristic of the Romantic movement in art that Turner was part of. In his painting, Turner captures not just the people and objects in the scene, but the true essence of the set up. The viewer feels present in the room, as if staring straight at the girl reading her letter. Curiosity fills us as we begin to wonder what’s written. We silently read her expression for queues.

Other Details

Joseph Mallord William Turner’s Rembrandt’s Daughter is housed in the Harvard Art Museums’ collection Room 2200 of European and American Art, 17th–19th century. It is part of the museum’s collection of The Emergence of Romanticism in Early Nineteenth-Century France.



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