Two Studies of the Head of an Old Man

Object Details


Two Studies of the Head of an Old Man


Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669)






Pen and brown ink, torn down the center and rejoined


9 × 14.9 cm (3 9/16 × 5 7/8 in.)

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In his bold, vigorous, and economical style, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn examined this man's pensive face from two directions. He presented the eyes as dark caverns, with shadows alone defining the ear, cleverly allowing the blank paper to do the rest. Broad pen strokes develop areas such as the neck, shoulder, and back of the head.

Rembrandt often preferred to draw and paint older figures, subjects whose greater life experiences showed in their faces. As a French scholar wrote in 1909, "He is there when we are old, when we look fixedly at the side of the night that comes."

November 16, 1981

Christie's (Amsterdam), [lot 32]


Art Market, Boston

17th Century Dutch Drawings (July 21 to October 4, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), July 21 to October 4, 1992
Dutch Drawings of the 16th and 17th Centuries (August 16 to October 23, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), August 16 to October 23, 1994
Casting Characters: Portraits and Studies of Heads (November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004