Fashion and Fancy: Dress and Meaning in Rembrandt’s Paintings (2006)

By: Marieke de Winkel

Until now dress has played only a subordinate role in the research of Rembrandt’s paintings, despite the fact that few artists are as intensively studied as this Dutch master. The lacuna is all the more surprising since Rembrandt obviously delighted in rendering clothes, which, for him, not only communicated the character and social status of his sitters but also clarified his narratives and heightened the drama in his historical pieces. Here, Marieke de Winkel offers a fascinating and much-needed study of dress and costume in the works of Rembrandt.

De Winkel shows us how focusing on apparel opens a new line of inquiry into Rembrandt’s paintings, one which is symbolically and iconographically richer than previously imagined. This approach, which has not been fully acknowledged by art historians nor developed by dress historians, deepens our understanding of Rembrandt’s expression as well as the cultural and historical context of the Dutch seventeenth century. De Winkel proves the merits of the approach here with her close readings of Rembrandt’s paintings and the contemporaneous connotations of the clothes he depicted. She demonstrates convincingly that clothes do much more than help date the paintings; they are instead integral to the program of representation.

No longer ancillary to art history, dress and costume here receive their full due in this study, leaving us with not only a better understanding of Rembrandt but of his wider world as well.

More Information


Publisher : Amsterdam : Amsterdam University Press, 2006.
ISBN : 978-90-5356-917-7
Edition : Print book : English
OCLC: 56806897
Description : 398 Pages

Table of contents

Table of contents

I. “One of the Most Dignified Items of Dress”. The Iconography of the Tabbaard and the Sense of Tradition in Dutch Seventeenth-century Portraiture.

II. Frivolous and Vain. Assessing Fashion Accessories in Rembrandt’s Portraits.

III. A Gentleman in a Grey Riding Coat. Dress in Rembrandt’s Portraits of Jan Six.

IV. Rembrandt’s Clothes. Dress and Meaning in His Self-Portraits.

V. “Adorned with Manifold Garments”. Costume in Rembrandt’s History Paintings.


About the author

About the author

Marieke de Winkel is affiliated with the Rembrandt Research Project in Amsterdam.

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