This picture is possibly a study for a bigger composition or a pupil copy of a profile in a studio. The well-rendered sitter, clearly in his elderly years, is partially bald, his long beard white to match and a fixed, yet affable gaze which is directed slightly upwards towards the heavens. This probably has a religious significance. Though he is well painted we cannot see a signature on the work.
The style of the painting is perhaps most similar to that of Rembrandt as many of Rembrandt’s portraits follow a distinct structure; dark, deep brown backgrounds and any light in the pictures were directed on the artist’s face as we see here, thus producing this dramatic and engaging effect. It is these same aesthetic decisions in this work that serve to draw the spectators eye in to closely studying the facial expression.
Despite its somewhat chequered past this is a dramatic oil portrait by a capable hand.