Having drawn and etched several individual studies of people of the streets, in 1632 Rembrandt started combining them in narrative scenes. The Rat Catcher is one of his earliest genre prints, and his relative inexperience in combining the separate figures is aparent.
The bandage wound round the jaw of the small boy might allude to his prowess as a tooth puller, and the fur draped over his shoulder alludes to yet another trade. It is not clear whether the figure in the doorway is dismissing them after they have completed their task, or is rejecting the offer of their services. This print must have been popular as there are eleven copies recorded, several of which were produced only shortly after the original plate.