Jacob de Gheyn III

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Jacob de Gheyn III
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn - Jacob III de Gheyn - Google Art Project.jpg
Jacob de Gheyn III by Rembrandt
Born Jacob de Gheyn III
Died 1641 (aged 44–45)
Nationality Netherlands
Known for Painting, Engraving
Movement Baroque

Jacob de Gheyn III, also known as Jacob III de Gheyn (1596–1641), was a Dutch Golden Age engraver, son of Jacob de Gheyn II, canon of Utrecht (city), and the subject of a 1632 oil painting by Rembrandt. The portrait is half of a pair of pendent portraits. The other piece is a portrait of de Gheyn's friend Maurits Huygens, wearing similar clothing (ruffs and black doublets) and facing the opposite direction.[1]


De Gheyn learned engraving from his father,[2] who was a favored royal artist who designed a garden in the Hague for the royal family. This was a shared interest with the Huygens family who lived close by (Christian Huygens Sr was councillor of state). The younger De Gheyn studied in Leiden with Constantijn and Maurits Huygens, who remained lifelong friends. Excepting tours of London in 1618 with the Huygens brothers and Sweden in 1620, De Gheyn lived in the Hague until 1634, when he moved to Utrecht to become canon of St Mary's church (torn down in the 19th century). His engravings became known though the writings of Aernout van Buchel who admired his work.

The painting

The painting of De Gheyn in Dulwich Picture Gallery is smaller than most of Rembrandt's works, measuring only 29.9 by 24.9 centimetres (11.8 by 9.8 inches). It has been stolen numerous times (see below), and its size is one factor that has contributed to its numerous thefts.

The commission

Huygens and de Gheyn had commissioned Rembrandt to paint them in identical formats and he did so upon the same oak panel.[3] The friends had agreed that the first of them to die would receive the painting owned by the other, as evidenced by inscriptions on their reverse.[4] They were reunited when de Gheyn died. Maurits Huygens survived De Gheyn by less than a year however, and his brother Constantijn Huygens was so heartbroken that he stopped writing for a long period. Dendrochronological research has revealed that Rembrandt also made a self-portrait in the same year with a panel from the same wood:


The painting has been given the moniker "takeaway Rembrandt" as it has been stolen four times since 1966 – the most recorded of any painting.[5][6]

Between 14 August 1981 and 3 September 1981 the painting was taken from Dulwich Picture Gallery and retrieved when police arrested four men in a taxi who had the painting with them.[7] A little under two years later a burglar smashed a skylight and descended through it into the art gallery, using a crowbar to remove the painting from the wall. The police arrived within three minutes but were too late to apprehend the thief.[8] The painting was missing for three years, eventually being found on 8 October 1986 in a luggage rack at the train station of a British army garrison in Münster, Germany.

The other two times, the painting was found once underneath a bench in a graveyard in Streatham, and once on the back of a bicycle.[9] Each time the painting has been returned anonymously with more than one person being charged for its disappearance.[6]


  1. ^ Jacob de Gheyn by Rembrandt in the RKD
  2. ^ Jacob de Gheyn (III) in the RKD
  3. ^ Dulwich Picture Gallery. 2006. "Jacob de Gheyn III" Accessed 4-jun-2010.
  4. ^ Graham-Nixon, Andrew. The Daily Telegraph. 11 June 2006. "[1]". Accessed 6 September 2006.
  5. ^ Alberge, Dalya. The Times. 23 August 2004. "Mystery, intrigue and stolen paintings". Accessed 3 September 2006.
  6. ^ a b Guinness World Records. "Most Stolen Painting". Accessed 4 September 2006.
  7. ^ New York Times Archives. 3 September 1981. "Around The World; Painting by Rembrandt Is Recovered in London". Accessed 3 September 2006.
  8. ^ Time. 4 July 1983. "Stop and Think: Supercrooks do brisk business". Accessed 6 September 2006.
  9. ^ Kennedy, Maev. The Guardian. 18 May 2001. "Artful conman preys on wealthy". Accessed 3 September 2006.
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