Rembrandt: A Virtual World Tour

Third Stop: Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art was founded in 1913 “for the benefit of all the people forever” and has remained free admission since opening in June 1916. Housing over 61,000 works of art and welcoming approximately 770,000 visitors annually, the museum strives to be a place of inspiration and inclusivity. The collection includes Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Woman, part of a small acquisition of Dutch Baroque paintings. 

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)

Portrait of a Woman
1635 or earlier
oil on wood

Image courtesy of
The Cleveland Museum of Art

Our journey this week explores the role of bobbin lace as a status symbol in portraiture, as is depicted in many of Rembrandt’s works. During the 17th century Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam’s trade, science, military and art enjoyed a time of great prosperity. Access to luxury goods was plentiful and the lace industry was at its peak. Along with jewels, lace was a primary indicator of wealth in society.

In this portrait, Rembrandt’s subject wears an intricate double lace collar with multi-sized scalloped edges. The subject’s dark dress and background show off the lace beautifully, focusing the viewer’s attention on the intended signs of wealth and prosperity. Pearls and gold brooches also represent the sitter’s economic status.

Soft brushstrokes make up the delicate flesh tones.

Extensive restoration and cleaning of this work leads scholars to believe Rembrandt's pupils finished the lace detail after the subject departed. During this time Rembrandt was in high demand and very busy with commissions. He would have done the composition, including the complex layered flesh tones of her face, and passed on finishing touches to students – a common practice in the art world.

Visit the Cleveland museum website to learn about their collection.

Clara teaches Elverhøj Museum Assistant Director, Jody Williams, the basics of bobbin lace making.

Lace making has been practiced for centuries in Denmark. At Elverhøj, there is a small bobbin lace exhibit and live demonstrations most Sundays. Our dear volunteer Clara shares this intricate craft with visitors, even offering those interested the opportunity to try their hand at lace making.

We look forward to welcoming our docents and visitors back as soon as it's safe. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this virtual tour around the world.

Next stop: Amsterdam, Holland

Stay healthy,

The Elverhøj Team

Bobbin lace exhibit at Elverhøj Museum.

ELVERHØJ MUSEUM of History and Art

1624 Elverhoy Way
Solvang, CA 93463


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