This print, after a 1639 etching by Rembrandt, shows a well-dressed man of middle age seated before a pair of scales and an open ledger. He hands his young assistant a bag as customers stand waiting nearby. The scene is set beneath a large painting of the Crucifixion placed on the far wall. A printed legend beneath the image states "Scilicet improbae / Crescunt divitiae," or "It is unconscionable / this increase in wealth," a phrase condemning miserly behavior. Yet Rembrandt's original etching may have been a portrait of Jan Uytenbogaert, an Amsterdam finance minister and the artist's patron. Thus the original image may not have represented a conventional miser or an allegory of gold and greed, but a responsible and civic-minded "good steward" of public funds and the public trust. The scales may allude not only to his profession, but also to a balanced approach towards period civil and religious divides.
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