One thing you might not expect to find while browsing Rembrandt van Rijn’s prints is a doppelgänger for the veteran actor Paul Giamatti. But that’s just what I found in the midst of an intensive Rembrandt project!
The print in question is a 1641 etching depicting the Dutch Mennonite preacher and cloth merchant Cornelis Claesz. Anslo. A celebrated citizen of his time, Anslo was not only memorialized by Rembrandt in print form; he and his wife were the subjects of a 1641 double portrait painting, also by Rembrandt. In the print, Anslo is shown at a desk with several heavy tomes, looking up from his reading, perhaps addressing a congregant outside of the composition.
As far as the celebrity resemblance goes, it is easy to see something of Paul Giamatti, best known for his performances in The Truman Show, Sideways, and Cinderella Man, in the face of this 17th-century figure. Particularly, Paul Giamatti’s be-hatted, bearded look as Chief Inspector Uhl in The Illusionist (2006) is a pretty good ringer for the stoic, similarly attired Anslo. Additionally, the intensity in their eyes and their close facial structures lend to this celebrity doppelganger comparison.
Though he doesn’t have the same Chicago pedigree as our first doppelgänger, Bill Murray, Giamatti has been recognized by our own Chicago Film Critics Association for many of his supporting roles. Additionally, The Negotiator (1998), a thriller featuring Giamatti in a supporting part, is set in the Windy City.
Although Rembrandt’s “Giamatti” is not currently on display, there are other wonderful prints by the artist in Gallery 208A. And anyone can book an appointment to come see this fascinating doppelgänger etching, and many other works on paper in The Jean and Steven Goldman Study Center.
—Deborah Krieger, Summer Intern in the Department of Prints and Drawings
Rembrandt van Rijn. Cornelius Claesz. Anslo, Preacher, 1641. Clarence Buckingham Collection.