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Imitator of Rembrandt: 'A Study of an Elderly Man in a Cap'

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This picture of an elderly man belongs to a category of picture known in Dutch as a 'tronie'. 'Tronies' are pictures of men or women, most often bust- or half-length, who cannot be, and are not supposed to be, identified. They were not portraits but rather painted as studies of facial expressions or as studies in the rendering of costume and fabrics. This type of picture was very popular and widely collected.

Doubts were raised about the attribution of this picture to Rembrandt as early as the 1930s. Cleaning in 1952 made it clear that it was not by Rembrandt himself, and it was then thought to be an 18th-century imitation. Scientific analysis now shows that it is almost certainly a 17th-century painting. Yet all Rembrandt experts agree, based on visual judgments of style and painting technique, that the work is not by the artist himself.

It is categorised as one of many imitations, quite possibly painted during Rembrandt's own lifetime, either by a pupil or by an imitator of his style.

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