A prominent Amsterdam printseller with a shop on the Kalverstraat, Clement de Jonghe does not appear to have had an extensive business relationship with the artist. However, he was a keen collector of his work, and the inventory taken at the time of his death constituted the first significant catalogue of Rembrandt's graphic oeuvre. Many of the traditional titles of his prints were first recorded in this document.
By the 1650's Rembrandt had abandoned the elaborate technical devices of his earlier portraits in favour of a simpler, more monumental style. Unusually, the subject is presented frontally, rather than the favoured three-quarters view, enveloped in a cloak defined in a few broad, heavy folds. The pose is informal, giving the impression that the sitter has just dropped by the studio momentarily. A high-backed chair lends stability and classical balance to the composition, but Rembrandt ensures that the overall effect is relaxed by having the sitter lean to the left, rather then depicting him dead-centre. The artist also eschews complex patterning for relatively open and loose line work. In subsequent states Rembrandt subtly changed the psychological characterisation of the subject by adding drypoint and burin to deepen the shadows, especially on the right side of the sitter's face, his hat and his eyes.
The inventory mentioned above listed no fewer than 74 of Rembrandt's copper plates, but interestingly not the one for this print. Perhaps if it was a commissioned portrait it might not have been considered part of his business capital, and therefore not liable for tax.