This is a painting by Rembrandt. It is called "Philosopher in Meditation" and it is one of a series of paintings Rembrandt did on the subject of philosophers. Now the remarkable thing about this painting is that it captures more than just a philosopher in meditation. It is a commentary or speculation by Rembrandt himself on the very same issues that philosophers think about. The symbolism of many things in the painting are very clear including the light shining on the philosopher from the window, the curved staircase that goes both up and down, the figure stoking the fire in the lower right and the circle that is almost in the very center of the painting. Of course the over abundance of darkness is also very important.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this painting I would love to hear and/or discuss them. -Will