Rembrandt’s eyes

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Methods of painting faces and eyes in portraits or tronies rely on different techniques of pigment mixing. Infrared imaging examination of several heads painted by Rembrandt and his contemporaries has shown that, during the 1630s and 1640s, Rembrandt favoured mixing a small amount of black pigment with the white paint used for the eyeballs. Only two of Rembrandt’s contemporaries
did the same. However, in the 1650s, Rembrandt appears to have abandoned this practice. While two contemporary English sources, from 1634 and ca. 1650, describe the method in some detail, the eye-painting technique referred to in those works likely evolved independently of that employed in Rembrandt’s workshop.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date18 Sept 2023
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2023
EventICOM-CC 20th Triennial Conference
- Valencia, Spain
Duration: 18 Sept 202322 Sept 2023
Conference number: 20th


ConferenceICOM-CC 20th Triennial Conference
Internet address

Bibliographical note

To cite this article:
Wadum, J. 2023. Rembrandt’s eyes. In 'Working Towards a Sustainable Past'. ICOM-CC 20th Triennial Conference Preprints, Valencia, 18–22 September 2023, ed. J. Bridgland. Paris: International Council of Museums.


  • Rembrandt van Rijn
  • painting technique
  • eyes
  • infrared examination

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