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."