Interior with Saskia in Bed, 1640 by Rembrandt

Almost more a painting than a drawing, Interior with Saskia in Bed subtly veiled layering of brown ink, brown and gray washes, with touches of red and black chalk, measures less than six by seven inches. It shows the artist's wife, Saskia, in her late twenties, lying in a curtained sleeping-niche after the birth of one of their children - perhaps Titus, who alone among their four offspring reached adulthood. While the recovering mother reclines in the shadows, a nurse, bathed in daylight, sits at her feet and passes the time making lace.

No more than two years after Rembrandt captured this scene Saskia died, probably of tuberculosis. Well-versed in the Classical tradition, Rembrandt may well have had his wife's approaching demise in mind when he juxtaposed her recumbent form with that of the older seated figure.