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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
(Leiden 1606-1669 Amsterdam)

“Old man with a divided fur cap”

etching and drypoint, with fine margins all around. Indiscernible small proprietary watermark
150 x 139 mm
signed and dated (u.l.): Rembrandt f. | 1640. (the e reversed and the 4 in both directions)
More info

Bartsch 265; Seidlitz 265; Hind 170; White-Boon 265,
The New Hollstein Dutch no. 182, 1st state (of II).
Plate not in existence – with Nowell-Usticke (1967)


In the years after 1630, Rembrandt made a series of red chalk drawings of imposing old
men. Some of these subjects were later used in paintings of biblical subjects or of
meditating old men. This series of chalk drawings is connected with several etchings by
Rembrandt. These are known as tronies, the Dutch word at the time for a face. Typically
these are heads or busts only, concentrating on the facial expression, but often half-length
when featured in an exotic costume. Tronies might be based on studies from life or use the
features of actual sitters. Both paintings and prints of this kind were sold on the art
market without identification of the sitter, and were not commissioned and retained by
the sitter as portraits normally were. Rembrandt’s tronies were among his most popular
and widely imitated prints.

The old man depicted here is probably the same model who sat for a number of figure
studies of the same period. He looks distinguished and wealthy in his fur cap, a Polish
kutschma, and cloak, belying the probably impoverished reality. Rembrandt experts
have pointed out the similarity of this etching to a small red chalk drawing in the Fodor
Museum in Amsterdam.

Among Rembrandt’s fantasy portraits of old men, this is one of the most fully developed.
This patriarch could have stepped right from the pages of one of his beloved Bible
stories. The rhetorical bearing of this exotic figure invites the question: was this image
related to contemporary presentations on the stage?

This impression is the first of two states, from the original plate and before its complete
reworking in mezzotint (possibly by Pieter Louw, 1725-1800).


From a private American collection;
From a private Dutch collection.


A superb, richly-inked, crisp and early impression with burr on the thumb of the right hand, on the mouth and nose, on the horizontal lines at the lower edge of the plate and on the lower right edge of the robe.