image: Strokes of Genius: Rembrandt's Prints and Drawings

Man in His Study ("Faust"), c. 1652
state one of three
etching, drypoint, engraving on European paper
Gift of R. Horace Gallatin, 1949

The subject of this print has been long debated. Shortly after Rembrandt's death an inventory of the artist's work listed it as a portrait of an alchemist. In the early eighteenth century it was thought to portray Johann Faust, a sixteenth-century magician who, according to legend, sold his soul to the devil. Yet another interpretation identifies the scholar as Faustus Socinius (1539 – 1604), the founder of a heretical Christian sect who sought refuge in the tolerant religious environment of Amsterdam.

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