Old Man with a Beard, Fur Cap, and Velvet Cloak

rembrandt_oldman

Old Man with a Beard, Fur Cap, and Velvet Cloak
Circa 1632
Etching
Paper: 5 7/8 x 5 1/8 in.

A fine impression of the second state (of three), with touches of burr on the top of the sitter’s hand and to the left of the right eye

Provenance

Ex coll. Mary Jane Morgan (L. 1879), an unidentified collector’s mark (possibly L. 2169)

Publications

(B., HOLL. 262; H. 92; BB. 32-2)

During his lifetime, Rembrandt’ extraordinary skills as a printmaker were the main source of his international fame. Unlike his works in oil, prints travelled light and were relatively cheap. For this reason, they soon became very popular with collectors not only within, but also beyond the borders of the Netherlands.

In this portrait of an Old Man with a Beard, Fur Cap, and Velvet Cloak, Rembrandt shows off his virtuosity as an etcher, handling different surface textures and their light reflections in a masterly fashion.

An old man, seen in half-length portrait, is sitting in a chair with a heavy velvet cloak draped around his shoulders. Rembrandt depicts the fabric’s soft folds and luxurious sheen by blending fine parallel lines and cross-hatchings, accentuated by a few highlights. A bulky fur cap casts a dark shadow on the man’s face. The light, falling in from the right side, lingers on the man’s long, frizzy beard and his frail right hand, resting on his stomach.

The old man, who actually appears in several of Rembrandt’s prints (B.260, B.309, B.312, B.315, B.325) remains unidentified.[1] In 1878, Charles Henry Middleton suggested, that he could possibly be Rembrandt’s father. Due to similarities in scale, signature and execution, he believed this print to be a pendant to the Artist’s Mother Seated at a Table. He admitted, however, that the old man’s exotic costume rather resembled the attire of a rabbi than that of a ‘quiet burgher’.[2] Today Middleton’s idea is dismissed by most scholars. Rembrandt’s father died in 1630, two years before this print was executed.

1
Rembrandt van Rijn,
The Artist`s Mother Seated at a Table (B.343)

 


[1] E. Hinterding, Ger Luijten, M. Royalton-Kisch, Rembrandt the Printmaker, Amsterdam 200, p.115[2] Ibid.

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