Hendrickje Stoffels  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Hendrickje Stoffels (1626 – July 1663) was a model and partner of Rembrandt, most famously depicted in Bathsheba at Her Bath.




Hendrickje was the daughter of sergeant Stoffel Stoffelse and Mechteld Lamberts, and was born in the garrison city of Bredevoort. Sergeant Stoffel Stoffelse was Jager (hunter) for the castle at Bredevoort and so was also nicknamed Jeger, with his children nicknamed 'Jegers', but always officially referred to as 'Stoffels'. Herman was a highly respected citizen in Bredevoort, and many present day families there are descended from him, via the female line.

Hendrickje had three brothers: Hermen, Berent and Frerick. Hermen and Berent were longtime soldiers in Bredevoort, never serving elsewhere. Berent and Frerick both died young. Berent died in the same year as Hendrickje's father. Hendrickje had a sister, Martijne Jegers, and perhaps also another sister, Margriete. Martijne married Jan Kerstens Pleckenpoel from Lichtenvoorde, who was another longtime soldier in Bredevoort. After his death Martijne remarried, to Berent van Aelten.

Hendrickje's father died almost certainly in July 1646, though he is possibly not to be identified with the victim of the explosion of the gunpowder tower in Bredevoort in that month as some have done. In January 1647, after the normal mourning time of half a year, his widow Mechteld Lamberts remarried to a neighbor, Jacob van Dorsten, a widower with three young children. As a consequence, Hendrickje in 1646 or 1647 unhappily had to leave for Amsterdam.

Time in Amsterdam

Hendrickje lived in Rembrandt's house from approximately 1647, at first as a maid, but fast becoming much more. In 1649 Hendrickje returned to Bredevoort for the summer (possibly with Rembrandt accompanying her), and is there mentioned as a witness to a christening mentioned in the Bredevoorts church records. The Eighty Years War was past and peace was finally reaching even the eastern Netherlands. There are several paintings of Rembrandt for which she is suspected to have modelled.

In 1654 Hendrickje had to appear before the church council for "living in sin" with Rembrandt, who was a widower and 20 years her senior. That she was not only his maid was patently obvious, for she was pregnant with his daughter. On 30 October 1654, Cornelia van Rijn was baptized in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam.

Rembrandt did not want to marry Hendrickje, because then he would forfeit the inheritance of his first wife Saskia van Uylenburgh—even with that inheritance he had major financial problems, but without it he would be bankrupt. Hendrickje wanted to strike up a friendship with Titus, the son of Rembrandt and Saskia, and—when Rembrandt's problems worsened—she and Titus came up with the idea of an art dealership run by them and only stocking Rembrandt's paintings. Also Titus appointed his half sister Cornelia as his heir.

In 1663, a plague epidemic hit Amsterdam, and Hendrickje died of it. She was buried in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam on 24 July 1663.

In later culture

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hendrickje Stoffels" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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