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Rembrandt’s Old Man with a Divided Fur Cap
A visual analysis
Nicole MacKay 1059372
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Rembrandt’s work, Old Man with a Divided Fur Cap, is a Dutch ink on paper etching dating from 1640. Although the work is compact, the lone figure fills the space so that size does not hinder the fine details of the man’s features, clothes, and demeanor. Rembrandt pastes these visual clues together to construct an argument about this man which spills out and fills the frame revealing an older yet distinguished man with a seemingly high social status.
First, the image consists of straight, curly, and cross-hatched lines that create the illusion of texture in not only the hat and cloak, but also in the figure’s beard. The beard is a combination of curly lines that when spaced further apart seem to create colour, particularly whiteness, within the beard itself; the closer the lines in the beard the more coarse and wiry they appear. Sporadic hairs dot his face which coupled with the whiteness of the beard suggest that he is older; other clues that point to the man’s age include bushy overgrown eyebrows, bags under the eyes, creases in the face and hand as well as weathered leathery skin.
Second, the straight and cross-hatched lines in the man’s clothes emphasize the cloak and especially the hat—the man is well-dressed and probably wealthy. Although the cloak is attractively detailed, it is the dark lines of the hat that initially hints at his wealth; the fine visible fibers or hairs, on the hat, speak to its value. The man also has an ornate clasp or brooch across his chest which also boasts wealth.
Third, coupled with the contrast of the hat and beard, the negative space surrounding the man ensures...