I was riveted by this rarely seen Rembrandt painting, Portrait of the Artist (c.1663-1665), which was on special loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Kenwood House in London through the end of last week. It harbors an expression as enigmatic and difficult to characterize as that of the Mona Lisa smile: weary yet intense, elusive and omniscient. And what of the circles that seem to frame the image in a cryptic geometric pattern? More mystery from the grand master of the Dutch Golden Age…or as The New Yorker put it: “We see what he sees and, by the sorcery of paint, as he sees — with a consciousness both outward and inward, alive in a moment forever.”

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