Rembrandt's ability to capture a likeness and a sense of the sitter's character sets him apart from many of his contemporaries. In particular his portrayal of old people, including himself as he aged, was always disarmingly honest. With its loose application of paint this work shows the painter's acute observation and imaginative insight into the mood and the personality of the sitter. This sitter has recently been identified as Aechje Claesdr., widow of the Rotterdam brewer, Jan Dammaszn. Pesser. Her son, Dirck Jansz. Pesser and his wife sat to Rembrandt in the same year.
The oval format of this portrait was fashionable in Amsterdam at the time.