Notice

For visitors to Van Gogh in America, operation hours are extended until 5 p.m. Tues-Thurs and 6 p.m. Sat-Sun.

The Visitation, 1640

  • Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669

Oil on cedar panel

  • 33 × 30 × 4 1/2 inches (83.8 × 76.2 × 11.4 cm) Unframed: 22 1/4 × 18 7/8 inches (56.5 × 47.9 cm)

City of Detroit Purchase

27.200

The Visitation tells the story of the meeting between Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus, and her older cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist (Luke 1:36–42). Rembrandt centers the narrative around the two cousins, bathed in a supernatural glow. From the elderly Zacharias, husband of Elizabeth, easing himself down the stairs with the help of a young boy, to Joseph climbing up the hill leading his donkey, the figures are linked by a series of gestures that stress the intimacy and emotions that bind the characters. Animals play a meaningful part in this painting. The dog, while providing a touch of informality, symbolizes faithfulness. The peacock watching over her chicks, a symbol of pride and vanity, is also a symbol for Christ, because it represents the incorruptibility of his flesh. This painting may relate directly to Rembrandt’s life. The face of Elizabeth is reminiscent of the artist’s mother, who died in 1640 just as his wife was about to give birth.

Signed and dated, lower center, on step: Rembrandt 1640

until 1656, the artist (Amsterdam, Netherlands) [cited in 1656 bankruptcy inventory of Rembrandt's collection]. by 1662, Hieronymus van der Straten, magistrate and burgomaster of Goes (Goes, Netherlands)

Prince Eugene of Savoy [1633-1736] (Vienna, Holy Roman Empire)

1736, by descent, Prince Eugene’s niece, Maria Anna Victoria of Savoy

1741, sold to Carlo Emanuele III of Savoy, King of Sardinia (Turin, Italy)

by descent, Victor Amadeus III

by descent, Carlo Emanuele IV (abdicated in 1802)

by descent (?), Victor Emanuele I. between 1798 and 1802, probably removed by the French to Paris. before 1808, dealer, R. Lerondelle (Paris, France)

1808, dealer, Sébastien Érard (England). 1812-1913, Robert, 2nd Earl of Grosvenor, later Marquess of Westminster (d. 1846) (Grosvenor House, London, England)

by descent, Dukes of Westminster to Duke of Westminster, Hugh Richard Grosvenor (Grosvenor House, London, England)

1913, sold to Alfred Charles de Rothschild (Halton Manor, Halton, Buckinghamshire, England)

by descent (?), Almina Herbert, Countess of Carnarvon [1876–1969] (Highclere Hampshire, England)

1924-1927, M. Knoedler & Co. (London, England and New York, New York, USA)

1927-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Retzer, Johann Georg Meusel. "Gemaldesammlung des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen." In Miscellaneen artistischen Innhalts. Erfurt, 1783, p. 163, no. 122. [as "Maria Heimsuchung" by Rembrandt] Forster, Edward. The British Gallery of Engravings, from Pictures of the Italian, French, Flemish, Dutch, and English schools, now in the possession of the King, and gentlemen of the United Kingdom. London, 1807, unpaginated, no. 46 (ill.). Young, John. A Catalogue of the Pictures at Grosvenor House. London, 1821, p. 39, no. 122, fig. 35 (ill.). [illustrative print after] Burnet, John. A Treatise on Painting in Four Parts: consisting of an essay on the education of the eye with reference to painting, and practical hints on composition, chiaroscuro, and colour. London, 1822, p. 28, fig. 9, no. 2. (ill.). [illustrative print after; also see subsequent editions of 1828, 1837, 1850, 1875, 1888] British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom. Exh. cat., Grosvenor Gallery. London, 1834, p. 13, cat. 114. Smith, John. Catalogue Raisonnè of the Works of the most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters, vol. 7. London, 1836, pp. 22, no. 57. Rathgeber, Georg. Annalen der Niederländischen Malerei, Formschneide und Kupferstecherkunst. Gotha, 1844, p. 72. Kugler, Franz. A Hand-Book of the History of Painting, Part II: The German, Flemish, and Dutch Schools of Painting. London, 1846, p. 255, note. ["imported into England by Erard"] Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britain, vol. 2. London, 1854, p. 165. Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Handbook of Painting, The German, Flemish and Dutch Schools. London, 1860, p. 343. [subsequent editions of 1874, 1904 and 1911. London, revised by J. A. Crowe] Blanc, Charles. L'Oeuvre complet de Rembrandt, vol. 2. Paris, 1861, pp. 39; 417. [as "La Visitation"] Exhibition of the Works of the Old Masters, associated with a Collection from the Works of Charles Robert Leslie, R.A., and Clarkson Stanfield, R.A. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1870, p. 6, cat. no. 36. [as "The Salutation"] Vosmaer, C[arel]. Rembrandt, sa vie et ses oeuvres. The Hague, 1877, pp. 212, 522. Bode, Wilhelm von. Studien zur Geschichte der Holländischen Malerei. Braunschweig, 1883, pp. 447, 467, 589–590, no. 240. [as "Die Begegnung Mariä mit Elisabeth"] Dutuit, M. Eugène. Tableaux et Dessins de Rembrandt. Paris, 1885, pp. 49, 59, 67, no. 45. Wurzbach, Alfred von. Rembrandt-Galerie, 2 vols. Stuttgart, 1886, vol. 1: p. 68, no. 258; vol. 2: fig. 50 (ill.). Vesme, Alessandro. "Sull'acquisto fatto da Carlo Emanuele III re di Sardegna della Quadreria del Principe Eugenio di Savoia." Miscellanea di Storia Italiana, vol. 25 (1887): 161–247, pp. 246–247, no. 122. Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Masterpieces of Dutch Art in English Collections, 1889, unpaginated (ill.). Michel, Emile. Rembrandt: His Life, his Work, and his Time, 2 vols. New York, 1894, vol. 1: pp. 266–267; vol. 2: p. 237. Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters…Chiefly of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Art. London, 1895, p. 22, no. 88. [as "The Salutation"] Rembrandt, Schilderijen bijeengebracht ter gelegenheid van de inhuldiging van Hare Majesteit Koningen Wilhelmina. Exh. cat., Stedelijk Museum. Amsterdam, 1898, unpaginated, no. 45. Bell, Malcolm. Rembrandt van Rijn and His Work. London, 1899, p. 152, no. 33. [as "The Salutation"] Exhibition of Works by Rembrandt. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1899, p. 20, no. 52. [as "The Salutation"] Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Rembrandt: 26 photogravures after the finest pictures of the exhibitions in London. Jan.-Febr. 1899 and Amsterdam, Sept.-Oct. 1898-1899. Amsterdam, 1899, p. 3, no. 10 (ill.). [as "The Salutation"] Bode, Wilhelm von. Rembrandt, vol. 4. Paris, 1900, p. 72, no. 241 (ill.). Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Rembrandt Bijbel, vol. 2. Amsterdam, ca. 1900, pp. 5–6 (ill.). Douglas, Langton. "La Collection du Duc de Westminster a Grosvenor House." Les Arts 37 (January 1905): pp. 4, 7 (ill.). [as "La Salutation"] Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Rembrandt und seine Umgebung. Strasbourg, 1905, p. 93. Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt, Des Meisters Gemälde (Klassiker der Kunst). Stuttgart and Leipzig, 1906, p. 185, no. 24 (ill.). Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Rembrandt Des Meisters Gemälde (Klassiker der Kunst). Stuttgart and Berlin, 1908, p. 224, no. B241; p. 595 (ill.). Wurzbach, Alfred von. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon, vol. 2. Vienna, 1910, p. 404. Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, vol. 6. London, 1916, p. 63, no. 74. [as "The Salutation"] Schmidt-Degener, F. "Het Genetische Probleem van de Nachtwacht." Onze Kunst 31-32 (1917): 1–32, p. 8, (ill.). [as located at Halton Manor, Collection of Alfred de Rothschild] Neumann, Carl. Rembrandt, vol. 1. Munich, 1922, p. 221, fig. 49 (ill.). Friedländer, Max J. Die Niederländischen Maler des Ziebzehnten Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1923, p. 184 (ill.). Meldrum, D. S. Rembrandt's Paintings. New York, 1923, p. 194, fig. 220 (ill.). Farington, Joseph. The Farington Diary, vol. 5. New York, 1925, p. 134, entry April 1, 1809. Loan Exhibition of Dutch Masters of the Seventeenth Century. Sales cat., M. Knoedler & Co., New York, November 16–28, 1925, unpaginated, no. 4. [as "The Salutation"] Summer Exhibition. Exh. cat. Koninklijke Kunstzaal Kleykamp. The Hague, 1925, p. 16, no. 41. Weisbach, Werner. Rembrandt. Leipzig, 1926, pp. 211–213, 317–318, no. 50. Brieger, Lothar. "Diesem Jahr aus Europa entführte." Berliner illustrirte Zeitung 45 (1927): 1817–1818, pp. 1817–1818 (ill.). "Detroit Buys Rembrandt and Gerard David." Art News 25, no. 33 (May 21, 1927): 1, p. 1 (ill.). [as "Visitation of St. Elizabeth"] Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "The Visitation by Rembrandt." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 8, no. 8 (May 1927): 86–91, pp. 86–91 (ill.). "Detroit Museum Opens Rembrandt Loan Exhibition." Art News 28, no. 30 (April 26, 1930): 3, 13, p. 13. Heil, Walter and Clyde H. Burroughs. Catalogue of Paintings in the Permanent Collection of The Detroit Institute of Arts of the City of Detroit. Detroit, 1930, unpaginated, no. 180 (ill.). The Thirteenth Loan Exhibition of Old Masters: Paintings by Rembrandt. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1930, unpaginated, no. 30 (ill.). [mentioned in introduction] Washburn-Freund, Frank E. "Die Detroiter Rembrandt-Ausstellung." Der Cicerone 22 (1930): 332–333, p. 332. Luns, Huib. De verovering van den eenvoud: Het karakter en de ontwikkeling van de architectuur in het werk van Rembrandt. Rotterdam, 1931, pp. 27–28. Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Rembrandt Paintings in America. New York, 1931, unpaginated, no. 68. Bredius, A. von. Rembrandt Gemälde. Vienna, 1935, p. 25, no. 562 (ill.). Bredius, A. von, ed. The Paintings of Rembrandt. Vienna, 1936, p. 24, no. 562 (ill.). Goldschmidt, Adolph. "The Style of Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century." Art Quarterly 2, no. 1 (1939): 3–18, pp. 14–15, fig. 13 (ill.). McCall, George Henry. Catalogue of European Painting and Sculpture from 1300–1800. Exh. cat., New York World’s Fair. New York, 1939, pp. 146–147, no. 300. Valentiner, William R. and Alfred M. Frankfurter. Masterpieces of Art: Exhibition at the New York World’s Fair 1939, Official Souvenir Guide and Picture Book. Exh. cat., New York World’s Fair. New York, 1939, p. 13, no. 95 (ill.). Robinson, Francis W. "Detroit Looks Back on Twenty Years." Art News 38, no. 31 (May 1940): 18–21, 27–28, pp. 21, 28 (ill.). WPA Michigan. Michigan: A Guide to the Wolverine State. New York, 1941, p. 256. Great Dutch Masters. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1942, pp. 45–46, no. 26. Benesch, Otto. "Rembrandt and the Gothic Tradition." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 26 (1944): 285–304, p. 299. Richardson, E.P. The Detroit Institute of Arts, Catalogue of Paintings. Detroit, 1944, p. 107, no. 180. Twenty-Four Masterpieces of Art. Exh, cat. Knoedler Gallery. New York, 1946, unpaginated, no. 14. Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Frans Hals and Rembrandt. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1947, pp. 68–69, no. 16 (ill.). Payne, Elizabeth H. "Rembrandt, The Visitation." In Favorite Paintings from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1948, pp. 30, 33–37, no. 5, fig. 5 (ill.). Rembrandt Paintings and Etchings. Exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum. Cambridge, 1948, unpaginated, no. 5. Masterpieces of Painting and Sculpture from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1949, p. 126 (ill.). Dutch Painting: The Golden Age, an exhibition of Dutch Picture of the Seventeenth Century. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Toledo Museum of Art; Art Gallery of Toronto. New York, 1955, unpaginated, no. 62. Grigaut, Paul L. "Rembrandt and His Pupils in North Carolina." Art Quarterly 19, no. 4 (Winter 1956): 404–410, pp. 406–407, fig. 1 (ill.). Valentiner, W.R. Rembrandt and his Pupils: A Loan Exhibition. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. Raleigh, 1956, front cover, p. 20, cat. 13 (ill.). Benesch, Otto. The Drawings of Rembrandt, vol. 5. London, 1957, p. 292, no. 1018. Bruyn, Josua. Rembrandt's keuze van Bijbelse onderwerpen. Utrecht, 1959, p. 9. Masterpieces of Art in Memory of W. R. Valentiner. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. Raleigh, 1959, p. 284, no. 52 (ill.). [listed under supplement, not included in exhibition] Grigaut, Paul L., ed. Treasures from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1963, p. 143 (ill.). Braubach, Max. "Die Gemäldesammlung des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen." In Festschrift für Herbert von Einem 16. Februar 1965. Berlin, 1965, p. 39. Haussherr, Reiner. "Zu einem Tobitbild aus dem Umkreis Rembrandts." In Schülerfestgabe für Herbert von Einem zum 16. Februar 1965. Bonn, p. 87, pl. 9. Paintings in the Detroit Institute of Arts: A Check List of the Paintings Acquired Before June, 1965. Detroit, 1965, p. 91. Bauch, Kurt. Rembrandt Gemälde. Berlin, 1966, p. 5, fig. 70 (ill.). Carter, David G. "A 'Vertumnus and Pomona' by Gerbrandt van den Eeckhout." Art Association of Indianapolis Bulletin 52, no. 2 (June 1966): 36–45, pp. 36, 39 (ill.), 45. Rosenberg, Jakob, Seymour Slive and E.H. ter Kuile. Dutch Art and Architecture 1600 to 1800. Baltimore, 1966, p. 64, fig. 43B (ill.). [see also 1972 edition] Treasures from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1966, p. 140 (ill.). Gerson, H. Rembrandt Paintings. Amsterdam, 1968, pp. 312–313, no. 203 (ill.). Arpino, Giovanni, and Paolo Lecaldano. L'Opera pittorica completa di Rembrandt. Milan, 1969, p. 90, no. 226 (ill.). Bredius, Adolf. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings. London, 1969, pp. 476 (ill.), 607, no. 562. Haak, Bob. Rembrandt: His Life, His Work, His Time. New York, 1969, p. 168, fig. 264 (ill.). Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years: An Exhibition of Rembrandt and His Followers. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1969, pp. 35, 49, no. 7 (ill.). Rifkin, Benjamin A. "Rembrandt and His Circle, Part 3." Art News 68, no. 7 (1969): 30–33, 89–91, p. 31 (ill.). Tümpel, Christian. "Studien zur Ikonographie der Historien Rembrandts." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 20 (1969): 107–198, p. 190. Tümpel, Astrid and Christian Tümpel. Rembrandt legt de Bibel aus: Zeichnungen und Radierungen aus dem Kupferstichkabinett der Staatlichen Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz Berlin. Berlin, 1970, unpaginated. [see no. 31, "Die Heimkehr des jungen Tobias"] Cummings, Frederick J., and Charles H. Elam, eds. The Detroit Institute of Arts Illustrated Handbook. Detroit, 1971, pp. 17, 108 (ill.). Tümpel, Christian. "Iconografische verklaring van de voorstelling op twee tekeningen van Rembrandt." De kroniek van het Rembrandthuis 26 (1972): 67–75; p. 75, note 9. Bader, A. The Bible Through Dutch Eyes: De Bijbel Gezien Door Nederlandse Ogen. Exh. cat., Milwaukee Art Center. Milwaukee, 1976, p. 28, no. 9, fig. 7 (ill.). Schwartz, Gary. B.P.J. Broos Index to the Formal Sources of Rembrandt's Art. Maarssen, 1977, p. 60, no. 562. Uil. H. "Het Huis De Oliphant Te Goes (Magdalenastraat 7)." historisch Jaarboek voor Zuid- en Noord-Beveland 4 (1978): 95–116; pp. 97–98. Sutton, Denys. "Robert Langton Douglas, Part II: Portraiture and Illusion." Apollo 109, no. 207 (May 1979): 346–347; p. 347, fig. 2 (ill.). Cummings, Frederick J., ed. Selected Works from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1979, pp. 69-70, 73, no. 43 (ill.). Blankert, Albert et al, eds. Gods, Saints, & Heroes: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts and Rijksmuseum. Washington, 1980, pp. 12, 146, no. 27 (ill.). Hoekstra, Hidde. Rembrandt en de bijbel. Utrecht, 1980, p. 8 (ill.). Cave, Kathryn, ed. The Diary of Joseph Farington, vol. 9. New Haven and London, 1982, p. 3429. [under entry for Saturday April 1, 1809] Sumowski, Werner. Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, vol. 1. Landau, 1983, pp. 18, 60 (ill.). Schwartz, Gary. Rembrandt: his life, his paintings. New York, 1984, pp. 218, 220–221, fig. 241 (ill.). Schwartz, Gary. Rembrandt: zijn leven, zijn schilderijen. Maarsen, 1984, p. 221, fig. 241 (ill.). Henshaw, Julia P., ed. 100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, pp. 108–109 (ill.). Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, 1986, pp. 82–83, fig. 119 (ill.). Tümpel, Christian. Rembrandt All Paintings in Colour. Antwerp, 1986, pp. 243–244, 399, no. 60, (ill.). Rembrandt Research Project, A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, vol. 3. Dordrecht, Boston, London, 1989, pp. 367–374, no. A138 (ill.). Le Bot, Marc. Rembrandt et l'Orient. Paris, 1990, pp. 96–97 (ill.). Sliver, Seymour. Dutch Painting 1600–1800. New Haven and London, 1995, pp. 75–76 (ill.). Earls, Irene. Baroque Art: A Topical Dictionary. Wesport and London, p. 303. Kuretsky, Susan Donahue. "Rembrandt at the Threshold." In Rembrandt, Rubens, and the Art of their Time: Recent Perspectives. University Park, Pennsylvania, 1997, pp. 61–105, 67-68, figs. 3–18 (ill.). Ackley, Clifford S. Rembrandt's Journey: Painter. Draftsman. Etcher. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Art Institute of Chicago. Boston, 2003, pp. 136, 317, no. 69 (ill.). Gargaro, Eugene A. Jr., et al. "The Year in Review" Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 77, nos. 3/4 (2003): 4–11, p. 9. [purchase of antique frame] Duparc, Frederik J. Carel Fabritius: 1622–1654. Exh. cat., Mauritshuis and Staatliches Museum. Zwolle, 2004, p. 21, 24, fig. 8 (ill.). [as "the Meeting of Mary and Elizabeth"] Keyes, George S. et al. Masters of Dutch Painting: The Detroit Institute of Arts. London, 2004, pp. 170–175, no. 71 (ill.). [entry by Susan Donahue Kuretsky] Scallen, C. B. Rembrandt, Reputation, and the Practice of Connoisseurship. Amsterdam, 2004, pp. 136–137, fig 26; pp. 155, 351, no. 27 (ill.). Keyes, George S. "A Brief History of the European Paintings Collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts with a Focus on the Dutch School." In The European Fine Art Fair Handbook (TEFAF Maastricht), s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, 2005, p. 12, fig. 3 (ill.). Beal, Graham W.J. and Debra N. Mancoff, eds. Treasures of the DIA: Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 2007, p. 302, no. 234 (ill.). Liedtke, Walter. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 2. New York, 2007, pp. 616–617, fig. 156 (ill.). [see no. 14.40.651] Bindman, David and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds. The Image of the Black in Western Art: From the "Age of Discovery" to the Age of Abolition, Artists of the Renaissance and Baroque, vol. 3, part 1. London, 2011, pp. 279; 281, fig. 161 (ill.). Keyes, George S., Tom Rassieur, and Dennis P. Weller. Rembrandt In America: Collecting and Connoisseurship. New York, 2011, pp. 79, 156–157 (ill.). Wetering, Ernst Van De. Rembrandt's Paintings Revisited: A Complete Survey. Dordrecht, 2015, pp. 221, 271, 570, no. 174 (ill.). Abt, Jeffrey. Valuing Detroit's Art Museum: A History of Fiscal Abandonment and Rescue. Detroit, 2017, pp. xvi, 48, 194, fig. 6.1 (ill.). Humfrey, Peter. "The Collection formed at Grosvenor House by Robert, 2nd Earl Grosvenor," Colnaghi Studies Journal, 05 (October 2019): 100-123, p. 117, (fig. 19). Black in Rembrandt's Time. Exh. cat., The Rembrandt House Museum. Amsterdam, 2020, p. 116, no. 88 (ill.).

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, The Visitation, 1640, oil on cedar panel. Detroit Institute of Arts, City of Detroit Purchase, 27.200.