older man with wrapped shawl collar dressing gown and white turban style hat, wearing glasses, writing with his right hand in small book in a dark room lit by one candle; man; reading/reading material; costume/uniform; interior
In Old Man Writing by Candlelight Terbrugghen uses contrasting areas of light and dark to draw attention to the sitter's hands and face. In doing so, the artist suggests that the act of writing is both a mental and a physical endeavor. The sentence at the top of the paper reads "H T Brugghen Fecit 16--" (H Terbrugghen made [this] 16--) and is the artist's signature.
Although the identity of the sitter is still unknown, the face is not sufficiently individualized to be a portrait of an actual individual or of the artist himself. The latter is even more improbable since, when Terbrugghen painted the work, he was several years younger than the sitter. However, a possible source for the work may be Dutch proverb books.
During Terbrugghen's life time, proverb books were popular literature that illustrated and emphasized the virtues of honesty, piety and hard work. These books also served as sources for artistic inspiration; artists drew upon them for their paintings when dealing with themes similar to those expressed in the books. In Old Man Terbrugghen focuses on the sitter writing diligently, a focus on work that suggests that it may be an illustration of the virtue of hard work.
Link to share this object record: