A Woman bathing in a Stream (Hendrickje Stoffels?)

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Rembrandt’s painting, unique for him in its tender intimacy, shows a young woman almost up to her knees in a stream. She lifts her shift and looks down with a little smile of pleasure at the cool water rippling against her sturdy legs. Although it’s not certain, this woman may be Hendrickje Stoffels, who came into Rembrandt’s household to look after his infant son after his first wife, Saskia, died. Hendrickje and Rembrandt became lovers but were unable to marry. In the year this picture was painted, Hendrickje endured public humiliation because she was pregnant outside of marriage. Perhaps the painting was a homage to her strength and loyalty. It has been suggested that the picture is a study for a biblical heroine in a much larger picture, but the plain shift the woman wears is enough to raise a doubt: such a heroine would have been richly dressed or nude.

The National Gallery, London



A Woman bathing in a Stream (Hendrickje Stoffels?)




Oil on oak


H 61.8 x W 47 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831

Work type



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