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Portrait of a Bearded Man in a Wide-Brimmed Hat, 1633

Rembrandt van Rijn

Dutch, 1606-1669
Oil on panel
27-1/2 x 21-1/2 in. (69.9 x 54.6 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
M.1977.31.P
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

The man portrayed here is believed to be Pieter Sijen, a merchant who was a member of the Mennonite congregation in Amsterdam. An inscription at the left informs us that he was 41 years of age at the time of this portrait. Rembrandt painted a companion portrait of the man’s wife, Marretje Cornelisdr. van Grotewal, that is now in the collection of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

The sitter as depicted embodies sobriety and modesty, values that were important to the middle class in Amsterdam. Yet Rembrandt transforms what could be an austere first impression—given the limitations of the formal black attire that was fashionable at the time—into a warm and insightful portrait. The vivid description of the man’s features, the warm, directional light, and the marvelous brushwork impart a sense of animation that earned Rembrandt a position as one of the most sought-after portraitists in Holland during the 1630s.

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