Recorded by Valentiner in 1922 as an authentic work by Rembrandt, this picture has since eluded all subsequent literature on the artist. The thick application of paint and elaborate surface structure, though difficult to judge because of the old varnish layer, offers close affinities with Rembrandt's painting method of circa 1660. In this respect it can perhaps be most closely compared to the Old man in profile (Alfred Bader collection, Milwaukee) which, since cleaning, has been deemed by Professor Ernst van der Wetering a 'small masterpiece' (see E. van der Wetering, catalogue of the exhibition, Rembrandt - Quest of a Genius, 2006, p. 186, fig. 208). That work has been connected to Rembrandt's Circumcision of Christ, from 1661 (National Gallery of Art, Washington), for which it may have served as a preparatory sketch for one of the main protagonists. In terms of its execution and subject, the Philips picture recalls another Study of an old bearded man, shown full-face, dated circa 1659, that is also in the Alfred Bader collection (ibid., p. 197, fig. 224).
Anton Philips owned two other putative pictures by Rembrandt - a Landscape and a Self-portrait (A. Bredius, Rembrandt - The Complete Edition of the Paintings, revised by H. Gerson, London, 1969, nos. 13 and 449), all three of which were clearly held in the highest regard and hung in his living room at De Laak. According to a valuation conducted by Frits Lugt in 1928, they were amongst the most expensive pictures he owned.