The beauty of Rembrandt's brush strokes and his attention to detail are portrayed vividly in this detail taken from his 1634 painting, "Potrait of Saskia in the Guise of Flora." Saskia was Rembrandt's young wife, and she was portrayed as the goddess of flowers and gardens at the peak of Rembrandt's wealth and fame. Three of Rembrandt's four children died in infancy, and in 1642 Saskia died, and not long after Rembrandt's financial fortunes also turned for the worse. This perhaps is responsible for the deepening of the emotion in his images in his later years.
Though the Hermitage's Rembrandt collection is still the best in the world with over 20 paintings remaining, many others were sold along with everything else disposed of during the Stalin era. Nicolas Ilyin laments in "The Sold Treasures of Russia," that of 800 items in the Diamond Catalog of the 1920s, only 113 remained by the time Stalin departed the scene in 1953. Many treasures were sold for just the value of gems or precious metals contained within them.