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Follower of Rembrandt, A Man seated reading at a Table in a Lofty Room

Key facts
Full title A Man seated reading at a Table in a Lofty Room
Artist Follower of Rembrandt
Artist dates 1606 - 1669
Date made about 1628-30
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 55.1 × 46.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1917
Inventory number NG3214
Location Room 22
Collection Main Collection
A Man seated reading at a Table in a Lofty Room
Follower of Rembrandt

This atmospheric painting shows a lonely figure seated in front of a huge volume open on the table before him. Brilliant sunlight floods through the gloom onto the wall of the room. Much of the image’s power lies not just in the dramatic tension between light and dark, but in the way the artist has used thick white paint and grey detailing to capture the refraction and reflection of light by the window glass. In the deep shadows beyond these highlights we can make out shelves of books and two globes mounted on the wall above them. This is a library and so the man at the table must be a scholar.

But while it is highly evocative, this painting has also proved controversial. When bought by the National Gallery in 1917 it was believed to be an important early work by Rembrandt. Recent analysis suggests it may be by an unknown contemporary who was familiar with Rembrandt’s work.

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