Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Portrait of Marten Looten, 1632, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of J. Paul Getty

From the Collection: Portrait of Marten Looten

January 12, 2017

Rembrandt painted Portrait of Marten Looten in 1632, in his mid-20s, shortly after setting himself up as a professional portraitist in Amsterdam. The painting is notable for its introduction of a new, dynamic approach to portraiture in which the subject interacts with the viewer. In the painting, Looten (1585–1649), a prosperous Mennonite grain merchant, appears to be interrupted from reading a document, glancing up with his lips parted as if turning to address a visitor. Rembrandt positioned his arms and clothing (a beaver hat and black cloak, in the conservative Mennonite style) to enhance the impression of Looten’s three-dimensional form.

Southern California is home to more than a dozen Rembrandt paintings, the largest concentration in the U.S. outside New York and Washington, D.C. A 2008 online initiative involving the Getty, LACMA, the Hammer Museum, the Norton Simon Museum, and the Timken Museum of Art in San Diego highlighted 14 paintings by Rembrandt in SoCal collections, including Portrait of Marten Looten, which in 1938 became the first Rembrandt to be purchased by a Southern Californian—J.P. Getty. Getty gifted the painting to LACMA before establishing his namesake museum in the 1970s, and it has remained in LACMA’s collection ever since.

Visit Portrait of Marten Looten on the Level 3 of the Ahmanson Building.