In view of the fact that Rembrandt completed numerous etched studies of his mother (see lots 257-58) and it would be sensible to assume that he would have etched his father with similar frequency. Surprisingly, however, no one image of the Leiden miller Harmen Gerritz. van Rijn has been identified. The present etching has been suggested as a possible candidate but, unfortunately, it little resembles a drawing in the Ashmolean which comes closest to being identifiable thanks to a contemporary inscription on the mount.
This print is part of a group of studies of older men Rembrandt executed between 1630-31 and it is more likely it was intended to serve as a character study from which he could draw inspiration for his religious paintings.