More about Old Man with a Gold Chain


There's a controversy as to whether Rembrandt composed Old Man with Gold Chain in Leiden, in Amsterdam, or between the two cities.

We do know that this painting dates from the year that the young Rembrandt started his fruitful business relationship and living situation with Hendrick Uylenburgh, an art dealer. In those days, the art market was strictly controlled by the guild system, which was good for artists in the sense that it gave them a direct pathway to regular employment. On the other hand, of course, the guild was a necessary barrier to the right to sell work in an area, and you could only join after serving as an apprentice for a couple of years in the workshop of a master.  Rembrandt served for four years in Uylenburgh's workshop. In his final year, he married his master's niece, Saskia Uylenburgh. Rembrandt endured this initiation process before he was admitted to the Amsterdam guild, three years after he released Old Man with Gold Chain

The art historian Cornelis Hofstede de Groot wrote an enormously impressive, ten-volume Catalogue raisonné based on the work of the historian John Smith—an attempt to make a systematic and definitive list of all the greatest Dutch artworks. De Groot listed Old Man with a Gold Chain as a painting of the artist's father, an opinion fully rejected by the painting's current owner. It is now accepted to be a favorite model of Rembrandt's, who appears in several of his other works. He wears here a medallion that suggests a military career, though his beret would have been considered retro at the time of its creation. The painting was, centuries later, bequeathed to the Art Institute of Chicago by Evaline M. Cone, the widow of acclaimed piano manufacturer William Wallace Kimball.

Surely, Old Man with Gold Chain emerged around the time that the master packed his bags and traversed the Haarlemmermeer, an enormous lake separating Leiden and Amsterdam. The lake received the ominous moniker "Waterwolf." The Waterwolf had a ravenous appetite for human settlements, and, in the five decades prior to Rembrandt's move to Amsterdam, it gobbled up three unsuspecting villages: Vijfhuizen, Nieuwerkerk, and Rietwijk. Some scholars say that Rembrandt commuted around or across the Waterwolf for years prior to his move to Amsterdam.



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Here is what Wikipedia says about Old Man with a Gold Chain

Old Man with a Gold Chain is a portrait by Rembrandt, painted around 1631 and now in the Art Institute of Chicago.

This painting was documented by Hofstede de Groot as a portrait of Rembrandt's father in 1915, who wrote:

675. HARMEN GERRITSZ VAN RIJN. Half-length, without hands; almost life size. He is inclined to the left, but his head and eyes are turned to the right. He wears a dark purple cloak, over which hangs a gold chain with a medallion. Round his neck is a small close-fitting steel gorget. In his right ear is a pearl. He has a short greyish beard, and curly hair covered by a broad-brimmed black hat with two dark ostrich feathers. Painted about 1631. Signed on the left at foot with the monogram "R H L"; canvas, 32 inches by 30 inches. There are copies:

  1. Bode 217 ; Wb. 156 ; B.-HdG. 29. Mentioned by Moes, No. 6687, ii; Bode, p. 413; Dutuit, p. 43 ; Michel, pp. 44, 557, 561 [35, 432, 443]. Sale. Beresford Hope, London, May 1886. In the possession of C. Sedelmeyer, Paris, "Catalogue of 300 Paintings," 1898, No. 111. In the collection of W. H. Beers, New York. In the collection of S. Neumann, London.
  2. Sale. Martineau and others, London, March 10, 1902.
  3. Panel, 23 1/2 inches by 19 inches. Sale. Causid-Brück of Cassel, Frankfort-on-Main, February 10, 1914, No. 25.

Exhibited at Düsseldorf, 1912, No. 43. Sale. M. P. W. Boulton, London, December 9, 1911, No. 14. In the possession of P. and D. Colnaghi and Obach, London. In the possession of Julius Böhler, Munich. Sale. Marczell von Nemes of Budapest, Paris, June 17, 1913, No. 60 (516,000 francs, S. de Ricci). In the possession of Julius Böhler, Munich. In the possession of Reinhardt, New York. In a private collection, Chicago.

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