Listening to Art

09.07: Rembrandt, Self-Portrait in a Black Cap

Download (MP3).

Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume nine, number seven: Self-Portrait in a Black Cap by Rembrandt.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

This is the first of two issues devoted to self-portraits by Rembrandt. I quote from The Story of Art by Ernst Gombrich (p. 420):

The greatest painter of Holland, and one of the greatest painters who ever lived, was Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669)…. Rembrandt did not write down his observations as Leonardo and Dürer did; he was no admired genius as Michelangelo was, whose sayings were handed down to posterity; he was no diplomatic letter-writer like Rubens, who exchanged ideas with the leading scholars of his age. Yet we feel that we know Rembrandt perhaps more intimately than any of these great masters, because he left us an amazing record of his life in a series of self-portraits ranging from the time of his youth, when he was a successful and even fashionable master, to his lonely old age when his face reflected the tragedy of bankruptcy and the unbroken will of a truly great man. These portraits combine into a unique autobiography.

This is a painting, oil on oak panel, 50.7 cm wide by 63 cm high, with apsidal arch top.

Now let’s listen to Self-Portrait in a Black Cap by Rembrandt, recorded at the Wallace Collection, in London, on 21 December 2017.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was Self-Portrait in a Black Cap by Rembrandt. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

For more information and links to things I’ve mentioned, please visit

Listening to Art is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Gombrich, Ernst. The Story of Art. 15th ed. London: Phaidon, 1995.

Wallace Collection. “Self-Portait in a Black Cap.” Wallace Collection Online.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Rembrandt,”