Rembrandt’s reputation as one of the greatest artists of the Western world rests largely on his uncanny ability to convey the psychological depths and nuances of the human condition. The introspection of this image—possibly a portrait, possibly a character study—gives it a compelling presence.
In addition to his empathy and mastery of observation, Rembrandt is also remarkable for his extraordinary painting style. His late works in particular, like this painting, feature rich, glowing color and powerful brushwork of great variety—he used the end of the bristles at times for texture and even employed the handle of his brush to trail lines through the paint in the gold-embroidered collar above the red tunic. See also the Museum’s other painting by Rembrandt, Young Man with a Plumed Hat, in Gallery 23, painted about 25 years earlier.