This work probably dates from 1631, around the time of Rembrandt's return to Amsterdam. The sitter has long been identified as Rembrandt's mother, Neeltgen Willemsdochter van Zuytbroeck, and is one of five etchings he made of her between 1628 and 1633. Like other prints of the period, it has a certain formality which he no doubt hoped would impress potential patrons. In many respects it is more an elaborate study after a model than a straightforward portrait, and it contrasts markedly with the smaller, more delicate studies done in earlier years. The closely observed details suggest that he worked directly from the model onto the plate, starting with the face, and adding the headdress and figure after. It must have been a success since it was reprinted several times in the 1630's and editions are known from the 1640's.
Reproduced actual size.