REMBRANDT VAN RIJN ( 1606-1669) THE FIRST EXPONENT OF PORTRAITURE AND HISTORY PAINTING TO EMERGE FROM 17TH CENTURY HOLLAND. AN APPRECIATION OF THE ALL ROUND BRILLIANCE OF ONE OF THE GREATEST PAINTERS FROM THE LOW COUNTRIES: PART 1

Jan_Six_-_RembrandtRembrandt_Self-portrait_(Kenwood)

In this posting I am going to be considering Rembrandt van Rijn who together with Johannes Vermeer were the two outstanding painters of the 17th Century from the Low Countries. Of course there were other painters like Hals but I consider Rembrandt one of the greatest whose brilliance at portraiture and history painting outshone most of the other artists of the period.

Michael Levy in his book From Giotto to Cezanne considers the contribution that Rembrandt made to art.

” But one painter stood out above  all the sub-divisions, leaving few of them uninfluenced by his achievements Rembrandt Van Rijn”. [1].

” Caravaggio in a teacup  had their effect on Rembrandt whose own dramatically lit baroque pictures are a tribute to Italian Art, but from the first Rembrandt’s skill as a portraitist was what brought him success”. [2].

Levy shows how his self portraits enhanced his reputation throughout the Art world.

” Very early he was able to achieve the brash unconventionality of his youth self portrait where events and age have bruised the features”. [3].

” In fact Rembrandt was working all the time towards what interested him ceasingly drawing , painting , etching his feeling for humanity deepening as he drew away from conventional portraiture”. [4].

 

1554f16d1dee81d37edd87e3bcdf2371--rembrandt-portrait-rembrandt-paintings

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800px-Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_Jupiter_and_Callisto_-_WGA20285

 

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Levy continues his commentary on Rembrandt.

” In a concentration on essentials  essential’s Rembrandt’s portraits took on a penetrating intimacy , an affection for the sitter which only increased in the portraits of the few people in his small family circle”. [5].

” The portrait of his son Titus is a revolution of simplicity nothing could be  posed or more economical in concentrating on essentials”. [6].

Levy further comments on Rembrandt’s Humanity and warmth of character in his portraiture.

” In these late years Rembrandt seems utterly unconstrained”. [7].

” The Humanity and sympathy of Rembrandt’s work could not be duplicated. His studio however in the prosperous years of the thirties and forties was full of young men touched into talent by his example”. [8].

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790px-Rembrandt_van_Rijn_-_Self-Portrait_-_Google_Art_Project

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the-polish-rider

the-night-watch

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Rh Fuchs in his Dutch painting comments in his book that Rembrandt aspired to establish a Hierarchy of values in his artistic practices.

” Rembrandt Van Rijn was a painter who consciously tried to uphold the classic hierarchy of values in art. Rembrandt persisted in the grand old ambition to be a History painter”. [9].

” History painting was for him still the highest form of pictorial art and for that reason in 1624 he went to Amsterdam for 6 months to study with Lastman”. [10].

Fuchs shows how Rembrandt learnt from the masters and provided inspiration and imagination for his art.

“They were essentially those of Lastman painting a History meant reading the text scrupulously  but with imagination”. [11].

” In Rembrandt’s earlier work this lighting is very baroque very diversely distributed through a vague space . in the later paintings this development goes with a slow progression towards a shallower space”. [12].

 

1200px-Rembrandt_Harmensz__van_Rijn_130

 

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Rembrandt_van_Rijn_-_Jacob_blessing_Ephraim_and_Manasseh_(Gemäldegalerie_Alte_Meister_Kassel)

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Fuchs asserts that Rembrandt was a great History painter from the Low countries.

” Rembrandt was undoubtedly the best History Painter in Holland”. [13].

” Rembrandt’s ability to grasp the deep spirit and significance of a subject , his highly independent , personal reading of a text was one of the major reasons for his unique stature as a History Painter”. [14].

Michael Bockemulh in his book on Rembrandt shows how it is action that defines Rembrandt’s art.

” A general survey of the scenic creations from the Leiden years and the initial Amsterdam period produces the realisation that almost all of Rembrandt’s portrayal of events are conceived at the climax of their external action”. [15].

” The intention of the artist in depicting the climax of the action can only be to achieve the utmost vividness. The observer is to become an eye witness”. [16].

Minerva,_by_Rembrandt_(1635)

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460px-Hyacinthe_Rigaud_-_Louis_de_France,_Dauphin_(1661-1711),_dit_le_Grand_Dauphin_-_Google_Art_Project

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Bockemulh shows how Rembrandt pursues his subjects with a definite purpose and intention.

” If the artist had free choice of subject – matter then his choice says something about the matters of concern which he pursues”. [17].

” These scenes are also dramatic in that they portray Human acts CF Hannah”. [18].

This concludes the first part of my Post on Rembrandt Van Rijn. in Part 2 I will further explore this great artist from the Netherlands.

FOOTNOTES

  1. FROM GIOTTO TO CEZANNE A CONCISE HISTORY OF PAINTING: MICHAEL LEVY.PG.194
  2. DITTO.PG.194
  3. DITTO.PG.196
  4. DITTO.PG.196
  5. DITTO.PG.196
  6. DITTO.PG.196
  7. DITTO.PG.198
  8. DITTO.PG.198
  9. DUTCH PAINTING: RH FUCHS.PG.69
  10. DITTO.PG.69
  11. DITTO.PG.70
  12. DITTO.PG.70
  13. DITTO.PG.72
  14. DITTO.PG.72
  15. REMBRANDT.TASCHEN BOOKS: MICHAEL BOCKEMULH. PG.15
  16. DITTO.PG.15
  17. DITTO.PG.23
  18. DITTO.PG.23

 

 

 

 

 

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