c. 1629 or 1632
Oil on wood
Framed: 83.8 x 69.9 x 12.7 cm (33 x 27 1/2 x 5 in.); Unframed: 57.8 x 43.8 cm (22 3/4 x 17 1/4 in.)
Bequest of John L. Severance 1942.644
Once identified as Rembrandt himself, the sitter is now considered an anonymous study of human character.
This painting is an example of a tronie, a Dutch word meaning “head” or “facial expression.” Tronies were not intended to be identifiable portraits, but artistic investigations of facial appearance and fanciful costume. Particularly in the years around 1630, Rembrandt used this popular format to explore different lighting effects and facial expressions. Here, the strong contrast of light and shade shapes the contours of the young man’s face; unusual accessories such as the striped scarf and glittering pendant on a jeweled chain add an exotic touch. Although this painting bears Rembrandt’s monogram, the authorship is not certain. Some scholars have attributed it to Isaac de Joudreville (1613–1648), a pupil and associate of Rembrandt who painted comparable tronies in a similarly smooth and elegant style.
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