BEARDED MAN, WEARING A VELVET CAP, WITH A JEWEL CLASP

Rembrandt Van Rijn
BEARDED MAN, WEARING A VELVET CAP, WITH A JEWEL CLASP
etching
1637

An original Rembrandt Van Rijn etching.

1637

Original etching printed in black ink on laid paper

Signed and dated in the plate upper left Rembrandt f. 1637

A sharp and clear 17th century/lifetime impression of Bartsch, Hind, Biorklund-Barnard, Usticke and New Hollstein’s only state of this rare etching (characterized by G.W. Nowell-Usticke in his 1967 catalogue Rembrandt’s Etchings: States and Values as “a rare plate, with a handsome portrait” and assigned his scarcity rating of “RR” [50 to 75 impressions extant in that year]).

Catalog: Bartsch 313; Hind 150; Biorklund-Barnard 37-B; Usticke 313: New Hollstein 163.

In 1755 this picture of a man with his left hand resting on a walking stick was described as ‘Het Portretvan een Ouden Patriarch, met een bonten Mantel om den een kostabarre Bonnet op ‘t Hooftd’ (The Portrait of an Old Patriarch with a fur Coat and an expensive Cap on his Head).  Traditionally the print is classified among the numerous studies of bearded old men that Rembrandt etched, but for a variety of reasons he is the odd man out.  For example, almost all of the works in that group were created around 1630-31, whereas this print dates from 1637.  What’s more the execution of his face is so specific that in 1909 Jan Six considered it to be a portrait rather than a character head.  Who it is meant to be, though, is unclear, and the clothes are certainly unusual.  The headdress appears to be a cross between a sixteenth-century scholar’s cap and a beret, which would already have been considered as old-fashioned in the seventeenth century. The clasp fixed to the beret looks exotic.

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