Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Study of an Old Man in Profile, c. 1630
So-called tronies like this small sketch are typical of Rembrandt’s work. They were made to capture and represent a particular type or stock character, but they also served as a vehicle for experimentation, allowing the artist to try out different effects of the light. Such studies were painted after real-life sitters and were a regular feature of artists’ collection of sketches, used as reference material and inspiration for future commissions.
Visible painting process
This painting is characterised by its broad, unfettered brushstrokes, allowing us to clearly follow the process behind its creation: everything is revealed by the layers of paint, which are at turns applied in thin washes of diluted pigments or as sequences of brushstrokes using thick, opaque paint