|Rembrandt van Rijn, “Self-Portrait,” 1659, oil on canvas|
Rembrandt's portraits' have a familiarity that speaks to us across the centuries. We understand the characters in his paintings because we can identify with their humanity. Rembrandt achieved an almost unprecedented level of success, with many wealthy and influential clients. His work captures a sense of individual spirit and profound emotional expressiveness, qualities for which he was celebrated in his time. In this self-portrait, the thick impastos and bold strokes he used to model his face create the dynamic vigor of the head. He has allowed a greenish gray under layer to read as the shadowed area around the eyes. The firmness of his touch is accented by the wiry rhythms in his mustache and in the hair protruding from under his beret, which he has delineated by scratching the wet paint with the blunt end of his brush.