Head of an Oriental, 1635 by Rembrandt

Rembrandt painted Head of an Oriental in a much quieter mood, but still in the tradition of this whole group of biblical and mythological pictures. The picture is now generally believed to represent King Uzziah. Uzziah 'transgressed against the Lord' although the nature of his sins are not specifically stated. When he tried to burn incense to the Lord in the temple he was stricken with leprosy on the forehead. Notwithstanding the problematic interpretation of the subject the picture emerges as one of the artist's many statements about the dignity of old age.

The man is solemnly and richly dressed, but the artist has concentrated on the elaborate clasp which holds the cloak and on the turban. All this is then subordinated to the rather flaccid face. He appears near to death. He bears with a quite dignity the feeling that decay of the flesh has already set in.