This piece is based on one of those now anonymous portraits of wealthy
townsmen from the northern Renaissance. What separates this man from his
fellow Flemish merchants is a remarkable ability to stretch his epidermis
to considerable distance.
People born with this condition generally also have rather unusually flexible
tissue in their joints, which enables them to perform feats of contortionism
more easily than the less pliable among us; hence, they were commonly called
"the Rubber Man" or some such thing. Perhaps this ability would have aided
this fellow in selling tulip bulbs.
[To see more drawings from this series, please visit the Prodigies