The attribution for this panel is unclear although its proximity to Rembrandt and its date of circa 1640 is certain. Professor Werner Sumowski, for whose assistance we are grateful, considers it an 'exquisite Herrenportrait', and has tentatively suggested an attribution to Ferdinand Bol, on the basis of the stylistic affinities it shares with Bol's output from the 1640s. In particular he singles out for comparison his Portrait of a Lady with a feather headdress, of 1642, in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. The similar treatment of the faces and hair and the prominence given to the gloves worn by both sitters is indeed striking.
The present picture is also closely comparable to several works by Govaert Flinck from the same period and an alternative attribution to Flinck is also convincing. The distinctive lace collar worn by the sitter recurs, albeit in a slightly shorter form, in the Portrait of a young Man in the National Gallery, Dublin, and the costume, pose and handling are very similar to those adopted by the sitter in Flinck's Portrait of a Man wearing a Hat, of 1640, in the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection.
The contents of Dukinfield Lodge in Cheshire were originally catalogued for sale two months earlier by the London auctioneer John Adamson, who evidently had permission to hold two extended sales on the premises beginning 11 June 1817. However, Adamson's sales were never held and the task was given to the more experienced auctioneer Winstanley, who also had the advantage of being from Lancashire. Most of the paintings in the earlier catalogue reappear in that of Winstanley: the present work was catalogued as lot 40, 'Rembrandt - A Portrait Richly coloured; this has very much the character and air of the finest portraits of Velasquez.' The sale lasted seven days and included the library, prints, paintings, drawings, furniture, glass and carriages of the owner, Francis Dukinfield Astley. Astley the son of the portrait painter John Astley (1724-1787), had been left a considerable fortune by his parents and subsequently built up a collection of pictures at Dukinfield, his family's residence.
The 23rd Earl of Crawford, who lived at Haigh, near Wigan, itself some four miles from Ashton, made a number of purchases at the Dukinfield sale.