Created on July 17, 2019
Rembrandt has painted the highlights of his white linen cap with only a few strokes of a loaded brush, leaving a dark outline still visible.
Rembrandt painted his eyes using thin glazes of semi-transparent paint. He did not use any opaque lead white paint for the eyes, and the result is an intense, penetrating gaze, made all the more mysterious because one of his eyes is in shadow.
A technique called scumblingis used to create a soft-focus effect for his fur-lined tabard, this involves loosely applying very thin layers of paint with a dry brush, allowing some of the paint underneath to show through.
The face is the most highly finished area of the painting. Rembrandt has used a complex array of techniques to model his features, while most of his face is painted with dry-brush stokes, patches of thicker paint are used to make up the puffy skin on his drooping cheeks.
He uses dabs of impasto paint, where paint is applied in thick layers on the canvas giving the painting a three-dimensional appearance, to highlight his broad nose and curls of his white hair.
The brushes, palette and mahlstick in Rembrandt’s hand are suggested with just a few rapidly applied brushstrokes.
Rembrandt has scored scratches into the wet paint with the butt end of his brush to suggest the whiskers of his moustache. This was one of Rembrandt’s most distinctive techniques, which he first used in his early self-portraits.