Many of these works made prior to 1630 are studies in physiognomy – character studies or tronies, in which the artist depicted himself shouting, laughing or with some other pronounced facial expression.
The tiny 3 x 2.5in (9 x 7cm) etching offered for sale by Brightwells (22% buyer’s premium) in Leominster on March 18 depicts Rembrandt turning his head towards the viewer and frowning.
Originally published in 1630 in three different states, this third-state print is thought to be a posthumous impression – one of many taken as Rembrandt’s original copper plates were sold and traded in the 18th and 19th centuries.
It has a label to the back for The Fine Art Society, London dated July 8, 1935 and came for sale by descent from the art collector WAN Macgeough-Bond, who spent much of his life at The Argosy in Dungannon, an early-19th century house now owned by the National Trust.
The estimate was just £200-300 but it did rather better, selling for £12,000 – a price more in line with other examples of this etching seen at auction in recent years.