About this artwork

The pulled-back curtain and the woman’s pose make the painted image appear tantalisingly real. The illusion is enhanced by the strong lighting directed from the left and the contrasting deep shadows. While Rembrandt may have used one of his intimate circle as a model, the painting was not necessarily a portrait. The golden headdress, rich bedding and proximity to a painting by Rembrandt’s teacher, Lastman, indicate that the subject was probably Sarah, wife of Tobias. According to the Old Testament Apocryphal Book of Tobit, Tobias successfully defeated a demon who had killed her seven previous husbands on their wedding nights. This may be Sarah willing Tobias to win.

Updated before 2020

see media
  • artist:
  • title:
    A Woman in Bed
  • date created:
    1647
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • measurements:
    Arched top: 81.10 x 67.80 cm (framed: 110.00 x 96.70 x 11.50 cm)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Presented by William McEwan 1892
  • accession number:
    NG 827
  • gallery:
  • glossary:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
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Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)

Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)