Eyes shining and eyebrows raised, a man is baring his crooked teeth in a hearty laugh. This is not a portrait, but a character study or ‘tronie’ of a laughing man. Rembrandt painted it while he was living in Leiden and still had a very smooth style. So it is remarkable that he painted this head with incredibly loose brushstrokes – the style for which he later became famous. In some places, Rembrandt scratched in the wet paint to reveal the base – a copper plate covered in gold leaf.
Sale Cornelia Steyn-Schellinger et al., The Hague, 7-8 October 1783, lot 72; Gerard Munnicks van Cleeff, Utrecht, before 1860; sale Charles de Boissière, Paris, 19 February 1883, lot 40; F. Kleinberger Gallery, Paris, 1893-1894; Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, The Hague, 1894-1895; purchased, 1895