Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Portrait of an Old Man in Red, c. 1652/54
In the 1650s Rembrandt turned increasingly to the depiction of aged men and women, seeking to bring out in these images the positive and eternal aspects of age and experience. The Old Man in Red is perhaps one of the best of these images of old men. His name is unknown, but Rembrandt's interest in him was great: there is one more depiction of this man - An Old Man Sitting in an Armchair (National Gallery, London). The calm, simple pose of this man is in itself an indication of virtue. The facial features are noble and wise, and although the knotted hands are still, we can feel that they are shaking slightly. He has a kippah on his head which indicates that he is a Judaist. The storms of everyday life have not made this man complain of his fate, and spiritual calm has been the reward for his patience. Rembrandt applied the paint now in broad thick strokes, now using small translucent touches of colour, forming a varied texture. He made skilful use of light and colour to create a representation of the majesty of the human soul.