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Imitator of Rembrandt, A Study of an Elderly Man in a Cap

Key facts
Full title A Study of an Elderly Man in a Cap
Artist Imitator of Rembrandt
Artist dates 1606 - 1669
Date made 17th century
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 67 × 53 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2539
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Study of an Elderly Man in a Cap
Imitator of Rembrandt

This painting of a grey-haired man apparently lost in thought is not intended to be a portrait of a real person, but is an example of a tronie. This genre, popular at the time, depicted personality types.

It is signed Rembrandt halfway up on the right-hand side; scientific analysis suggests that it almost certainly dates from the seventeenth century and confirms that the signature is integral to the painting, not faked later. Indeed, it’s made with the same paint mixture used to render the dark tones in the man’s cloak, so there’s a high probability that both cloak and signature were made by the same hand.

But based on judgments of style and painting technique all Rembrandt experts agree that the work is not by the artist himself – so the signature must be a forgery. It must, however, have been made by someone, perhaps from his workshop, who was familiar with Rembrandt’s working practices.

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