Young Man in a Velvet Cap (Petrus Sylvius?)

Young Man in a Velvet Cap (Petrus Sylvius?)
Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669)
Etching, State II 
plate: 3-3/4 x 3-1/4 in. (9.5 x 8.3 cm); sheet: 3-3/4 x 3-1/4 in. (9.5 x 8.3 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

Painted and printed portraits of theologians occupied an important part of Rembrandt’s repertoire during the 1630s. The sitter here is believed to be Petrus Sylvius (1610–1653), son of Jan Cornelis Sylvius (1564–1638), both of whom were preachers. In 1637, the younger Sylvius was called to minister in Sloten, Friesland, in the northern Netherlands. Assuming the sitter’s identity is correct, the etching was likely made before his departure as a memento for the friends and relatives he would leave behind in Amsterdam.

Rembrandt had already etched the elder preacher’s portrait in 1633 and painted portrait pendants of him and his wife, Aaltje van Uylenburgh, who was Saskia’s cousin. When Saskia was orphaned at age 12, Jan Cornelis became her guardian. Aaltje’s brother Hendrick van Uylenburgh (c. 1587–1661) was an important art dealer who was instrumental in launching Rembrandt’s Amsterdam career. Given Rembrandt’s profound friendship with the family, it is not surprising that he produced portraits of its various members.

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