Rembrandt was perhaps the most creative and experimental etcher in the technique’s history. Rembrandt varied his impressions by changing his inks, papers, wiping techniques, and by altering the plate itself. Any deliberate alteration of a plate constitutes a new state.
This print is the first state of a total of three. Using a variety of techniques Rembrandt achieves a strong contrast between the closely hatched background and the sketchy foreground. The subject of this print is one of Rembrandt’s most puzzling. Little agreement exists among scholars regarding the many proposed interpretations.