This work is signed and dated in the plate in the title margin below the image Rembrandt f. 1633. It is a strong, dark and richly printed early 19th-century impression of Bartsch second and final state and Usticke's fourth state of five. It was printed prior to the appearance of the light vertical scratches in the title margin, to the right of the date.
In this self-portrait, Rembrandt wears an East Indian scarf that also appears in some of his other works. On his shoulder is a “point” -- a button with laces for attaching armor. A similar fastener is visible on the sleeve of Joris de Caulerji, whose portrait as a lieutenant in the Hague Rembrandt painted in 1632 (San Francisco, The Fine Arts Museums). The clothing in this etching can therefore de described as military dress, but depicted in a rather informal context. Rembrandt's face is almost entirely in shadow. Only part of the right cheek and the right earlobe are illuminated, and the tip of the nose catches a glimmer of light. In the past it was assumed that Rembrandt's aim in placing his face in the shadow in this and other self-portraits was to express his imaginative powers or poetic spirit. However, the ingenious application of effects of light and dark points rather to an artistic motive. The strong shadows and contrasts in a number of his self-portraits were undoubtedly influenced by Italian artist Caravaggio, whose paintings were immensely influential in the Netherlands from the 1620's onwards, especially on the group known as the Utrecht “caravaggists.” Catalog: Bartsch 17 ii/ii; Hind 108; Biorklund-Barnard 33-G; Usticke 17 iii/v .
This work is part of a carefully curated selection by noted fine art expert Jennifer McCloskey, who was formerly affiliated with Doyle Gallery in New York and is now based in San Francisco. If you have questions about any of the works in this selection, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.