In Rembrandt's drawings, the looping strokes and the sparing yet powerful use of wash have many parallels in other works of the later 1630s. Heads such as this appear on several composite sheets consisting of several similar studies. Perhaps the finest Rembrandt drawing of this type is the magnificent sheet in the Abrams collection, but others, such as the sheet in the Barber Institute, Birmingham, also demonstrate similar qualities.1 In all these drawings, we see evidence of a strong desire to capture, in authoritative fashion, the character of the figure in question, and all other aspects of the drawing seem to take second place to this driving motivation.
Though small in scale, this well preserved study, with its typically varied use of pen and wash, encapsulates both Rembrandt's primary interests in terms of subject matter and his ability to instill in his best pupils some of the technical originality of this crucial phase of his career. That the drawing has remained in the same private collection since sold from the Christ Collection in 1981 is an added bonus.
1. Benesch, op. cit., nos. 339-340
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