Few other artists depicted themselves as regularly and with such variety and psychological insight as Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). He painted himself before the mirror on at least forty occasions, and etched no fewer than 32 self-portraits in a career that stretched over three decades. Rembrandt used his own features to explore the workings of the human physiognomy. These works, in which the artist depicted himself shouting, laughing or frowning, not only demonstrate his virtuosity as a portraitist and etcher but also his acute emotional sensibility and extraordinary power of observation. Most of his etched self-portraits were made from the early to the late 1630s. Although the artist moved away from these explicit studies of human emotion, his self-portraits created after 1630 are testament to an ongoing interest in character and persona. In 1631 he moved to Amsterdam and very quickly achieved acclaim as a portraitist.
This very small, almost stamp-size self-portrait was created circa1634 when the artist was 28 years old – two years earlier than the Self-Portrait with Saskia(see lot 3 of this sale). The artist focuses solely on his youthful face, wearing a soft cap whose rim falls over his long, curly hair caressing his neck. His gaze is firm and steadfast, but there is a good-natured, confident, perhaps slightly mocking twinkle in his eyes.