Rembrandt van Rijn (attributed to)
Head of a Bearded Man: Study for St. Matthew
Around the 1660s, Rembrandt painted a number of half-length apostles and evangelists, all of which are characterized by their powerful individuality. This little panel displays the moving visage of a man in robust middle age, with a large, thick beard. He turns to the right and looks off to the side. His gaze suggests that he is absorbed in thought. His expression and features connect him directly to Rembrandt’s well-known 1661 St. Matthew Inspired by the Angel in the Louvre. This painting does not seem to be derived from the St. Matthew, however. Here, the man wears a simple soft cap and what appears to be a heavy smock. Furthermore, the simple costume in the small panel is derived from contemporary dress and carries no historical allusions. In its technical range, the panel displays in the rendering of the smock some smooth and broad strokes in thin sensuous layers – Rembrandt’s hallmark during this period.