An old man with a fur cap



Leiden 1606 – 1669 Amsterdam

An old man with a fur cap  (c. 1648)

black chalk.

129 x 94 mm.



vertical, 25-26 mm.

verso, at lower border, a paraph and cross (pen in brown ink, 17th century?) and catalogue number H.d.G 309 and 100229 (both in pencil); at upper border, f 4-:- (red chalk, 17th century?) and number 5 (pencil).


Friedrich August II, King of Saxony, 1797-1854, (Lugt 971), Dresden, and by descent.

  1. and D. Colnaghi & Co., Ltd., London, 1949.

Percy Moore Turner (died 1950), London, and heirs.

Sale, Amsterdam, Sotheby Mak van Waay, 18 November 1980, lot 50A, acquired at the sale.


Lippmann, Friedrich. Original Drawings by Rembrandt. Berlin, Vol. I, 1888-92, no. 140a.

Michel, Emile. Rembrandt, sa vie, son oeuvre, et son temps. Paris, 1893, p. 92.

Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Die Handzeichnungen Rembrandts. Haarlem, 1906, no. 309.

Friese, Kurt and Heinrich Wichmann. Rembrandts Handzeichnungen. Parchim, Vol. III, 1925, no. 117.

Benesch, Otto. Rembrandt, Werk und Forschung. Wien, 1935, p. 38.

Benesch, Otto. The Drawings of Rembrandt. London, Vol. IV, 1957, no. 724, fig. 869 and 1973, no. 724, fig. 917 (c. 1648).

Slive, Seymour. Drawings of Rembrandt. New York, 1965, Vol. I, no. 144.

Robinson, William W. A black chalk drawing by Rembrandt. In: Gnann, Achim and Heinz Widauer, Festschrift für Konrad Oberhuber, Milano: Electa, 2000, pp. 303-306, fig. 4.


Cambridge, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Rembrandt: A selection of his works, 1983, n.p.

Boston, Museum of Fine Arts and Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Rembrandt’s journey: painter, draftsman, etcher, 2003-4.

PeckSheldonRembrandt Drawings: Twenty-five Years in the Peck Collection. Boston, Perho Documenta, 2003. Published catalogue.

This sensitive black-chalk drawing from around 1648 seems to prefigure the similarly posed standing blind man at the right of center in The Hundred-Guilder Print, Bartsch 74, c. 1649 (Figure 6a).  Also related in appearance is Paul, whose bare-headed profile (in the direction opposite the drawing’s) is positioned to the left of Jesus in The Hundred-Guilder Print (Figure 6b, in reverse).  According to Schatborn (Bevers, Schatborn and Welzel 1991), Rembrandt usually reserved chalk for drawings of a preparatory or instructional nature.

We see the man outdoors on a bright day in winter, wearing a fur-brimmed, soft hat and holding a walking staff in his gloved left hand.  Rembrandt’s masterful understanding of the human figure makes the old man’s body perfectly readable under his bundled layers of clothing.  In Rembrandt’s most refined chalk drawings – like this one – he varied the line thickness considerably by carefully turning the edge of his sharpened chalk stick, producing a expressive range of accents.  Compare the thin, sharp vertical lines effectively forming outlines and folds at the front and back of the man’s cloak with the stronger, broader chalk lines used to characterize the shadowed areas separating his trouser legs.  To suggest the texture of fur on the man’s cap, Rembrandt applied a light touch with a few subtle zigzag strokes.  The master had the rare powers to observe and effect these details, and minutiae like the small pear-shaped tassel of a garter tied around the old man’s left stocking and the sewed tear in his right stocking.