伦勃朗Rembrandt

伦勃朗 1606年7月15日  - 1669年10月4日)是荷兰 制图员画家版画家一位多产的跨三个媒体,他被普遍认为是最伟大的一个视觉艺术家,在荷兰艺术史有着重要的意义。不同于 17世纪大多数荷兰大师伦勃朗的作品描绘了一个广阔各种风格和题材,从肖像,自画像,以山水,风俗,寓言和历史场景,圣经和神话题材,以及动物研究。

人物关系
  • 中文名伦勃朗
  • 外文名Rembrandt
  • 性别
  • 国籍荷兰
  • 出生日期1606年7月15日
  • 逝世日期1669年10月4日
  • 职业制图员、画家和版画家
中文介绍

伦勃朗(也翻译成林布兰特)生于荷兰莱顿,父亲是磨坊主,母亲是面包师的女儿,他们共有九个孩子,而他是最小同时也是兄弟们中最聪明的。伦勃朗14岁进莱顿大学;17岁去阿姆斯特丹向历史画家拉斯特曼学画;1627年21岁时已经基本掌握油画、素描和蚀刻画的技巧并发展了自己的风格,回家乡自己开画室招徒作画,期间画了许多自画像;1631年离开莱顿去阿姆斯特丹,30年代就成为阿姆斯特丹的主要肖像画家。他的肖像画风格人物安排具有戏剧性,深深打动人心,他以神话和宗教故事为题材的作品供不应求。他对戏剧很感兴趣,经常利用如同舞台高光的亮色描绘在阴暗背景下的人物。1650年代后,他的画更为宽阔有力,利用迭色使画面更加有立体感。

从1640年代开始,他经常到乡村漫步和作画,创作了许多反映大自然的素描和版画,风格质朴。1661年是他作画最多的一年,1663年以后就作画较少,结交了许多中下阶层的市民,眼界更为开阔,技巧更为成熟,创造力达到顶峰。

伦勃朗和他的妻子生有4个孩子,只有最小的一个孩子泰塔斯存活,但他妻子在生孩子后不久去世,他和女仆韩德瑞克住在一起,女仆为他生了一个女儿,为此受到教会的正式谴责为“罪恶的生活”。由于他喜爱收藏珍品,所以很快就到了破产的边缘。1669年他在贫病中去世,身边只有女儿科尔内利亚陪伴,死后葬在西教堂一个无名墓地中。

生平经历

创作成熟

阿姆斯特丹时期(1632~1648)从1632年定居阿姆斯特丹到1640年,是其创作的成熟阶段。成名作《蒂尔普教授的解剖课》(藏海牙莫里斯皇家绘画陈列馆),突破团体肖像画呆板的程式,在构图和人物神情上处理得逼真而又生动。这时期的大量宗教画,均表现世俗内容,具有巴洛克画风。1636年所作《参孙被弄瞎眼睛》,因表情刻画细腻而复杂,被评论家形容为相当于莎士比亚笔下的麦克白夫人。类似的杰作还有《画家和他的妻子》、《怀抱萨斯基亚的自画像》(藏德累斯顿画廊)等。

遭遇不幸

1640~1648年,个人生活的不幸和折磨,使他更深刻地去观察和理解社会,艺术创作也进入一个深化的阶段。1642年儿子去世使他悲痛万分,而《夜巡》(藏阿姆斯特丹国立博物馆)的问世,一开始又不被人理解,这幅带有风俗画和历史画性质,可以使人回忆起往昔荷兰人民反抗异族统治斗争的史诗性杰作,因其进一步突破了传统画法,开始不被订画者接收,一度形成僵局。此时期他的其他作品,也像《夜巡》一样采用更加接近舞台效果的表现手法,含蓄地描绘画面上的主要人物,因而不像30年代那样受到上层社会人士的欢迎,以致生活越来越困难。

晚年创作

(1648~1669)伦勃朗晚年生活困难,家产被拍卖,油画作品买主不多,只有宗教题材的蚀刻版画还有人订制。其中一幅取名《100荷币版画》的作品,就是依其售价而定名的。这时期他最著名的作品是描绘荷兰古代英雄C.西菲利斯反抗罗马暴政的《西菲利斯的密谋》和《呢商同业公会理事》(藏阿姆斯特丹国立博物馆)的团体肖像。

前一幅具有纪念碑式气魄,可惜现只存一块残片,藏于斯德哥尔摩国立博物馆;后一幅因表现了因人而异的外貌性格特征,成为他的不朽之作。家庭的不幸和一系列折磨并未摧毁这位倔强的老人,他始终坚持自己的艺术主张和创作方法,直至逝世前还画出了《浪子回头》、《扫罗与大卫》等名画。据20世纪60年代统计,他一生留存的作品有油画600幅,蚀刻版画350幅,素描1500幅,70年代以后还陆续有新的发现。

作品介绍

伦勃朗一生留下600多幅油画,300多幅蚀版画和2000多幅素描,几乎画了100多幅自画像,而且几乎他所有的家人都在他的画中出现过。

伦勃朗在绘画史——不独是荷兰的而是全欧的绘画史上所占的地位,是与意大利文艺复兴诸巨匠不相上下的。他所代表的是北欧的民族性与民族天才。造成伦勃朗的伟大的面目的,是表现他的特殊心魂的一种特殊技术。明暗法,这名词,一经用来谈到这位画家时,便具有一种特别的意义。换言之,伦勃朗的明暗和文艺复兴期意大利作家的明暗是有着截然不同的意义的。法国十九世纪画家兼批评家弗罗芒坦(Fromentin)目他为“夜光虫”。又有人说他以黑暗来绘成光明。

卢浮宫中藏有两幅被认为代表作的画《木匠家庭》《以马忤斯的晚餐》,我们正可以把它们用来了解伦式氏的“光暗”的真际。

作品《圣斯蒂芬被石块击毙》(藏里昂美术馆),通过捕捉面部表情,揭示人物的内心活动。为了塑造有个性特征的人物形象,他毕生研究相学,其探索的成果是他绘画技法的重要组成部分。

自画像

在伦勃朗的全部肖像画中,自画像要占很重要的地位,其数量之多在历史上所有油画家中,几乎找不到第二个。就现藏世界各地博物馆的他的自画像看,据不完全统计也有90幅左右,其中60幅是油画,20幅是铜版画,10幅是素描自画像。按其后来的遭遇以及他变卖家产等情况看,很可能还有散失在私人手里的自画像作品。有一位理论家计算过,他每年平均画两幅自画像,那末,总数要在百来幅以上。

他的自画像不仅数量多,艺术质量也随着年龄的增长而提高。尤其在他的后半生,现实生活的磨砺使他能更深刻地认识自己。在60年代前后,他的自画像有鲜明的个性表现了。画家很注意脸部的内在气质,观者可以从中发现一种潜在内心语言。这一幅《自画像》作于1660年间,也是画家丧妻以后,家产变卖并被迁到罗桑夫拉哈特居住时期完成的一幅杰作。其时,他在事业上败落到如此地步:只能在亨德里治与前妻所生的儿子蒂土斯掌管"美术品处理公司"里以一个"雇员"身份,整天做着搬运制成品差使。这幅画,就是他当时的真实形象。

54岁的伦勃朗,左手握着调色板与画笔,右手叉在腰间,一副不修边幅的样子,露出他的贫穷与寒酸。胖胖的身材,缠着头巾,只有一对眼睛还在炯炯有神,他好象在思考着什么,脸上没有一丝笑容,冷冷地伫立在画架前。背景被淡化了,突出了画家的上半身,象一座塔一样巍然不动,在他身上只有艺术的生命永恒地维系着他。 他的自画像一般不注年份,如若把他的全部自画像排列起来,可以看出,在34岁以前,他的自画像充满着信念,具有顽强与坚毅的性格。在这一幅自画像上,画家只用简约、阔大的笔触去雕琢他的内心情感,表情的严肃,正是他忍受着日益加剧的生活重压的外在反映。

伦勃朗光线

伦勃朗光线一种普遍而善用的光线,用精确的三角立体光,勾勒出人物的轮廓线,让其余部分隐藏于光暗之中。给人以稳定庄重的感觉。

伦勃朗的油画一贯采用“光暗”处理手法,即采用黑褐色或浅橄榄棕色为背景,将光线概括为一束束电筒光似的集中线,着重在画的主要部分。这种视觉效果,就好像画中人物是站在黑色舞台上,一束强光打在他的脸上。法国19世纪画家兼批评家弗罗芒坦称伦勃朗为‘夜光虫’,还有人说他用黑暗绘就光明。

伦勃朗对光的使用令人印象深刻,他独到地运用明暗,他灵活地处理复杂画面中的明暗光线,用光线强化画中的主要部分,也让暗部去弱化和消融次要因素。他这种魔术般的明暗处理构成了他的画风中强烈的戏剧性色彩,也形成了伦勃朗绘画的重要特色。

犹太情结

从19世纪开始,许多犹太人迁到了阿姆斯特丹市内伦勃朗曾经生活过的那片区域,而那里原本就已经有了一座犹太教堂。由于这些原因,那片区域被人称为阿姆斯特丹的“犹太区”,而关于伦勃朗是犹太教徒或是与犹太人有密切联系的说法也开始在民间流传开来。到后来,人们又“发现”伦勃朗经常描绘犹太人的形象并使用犹太模特,为这一类的说法提供了进一步的佐证。伦勃朗的许多作品都被冠上与犹太人有关的名称,比如著名的《犹太新娘》(The Jewish Bride)。还有人宣称,伦勃朗跟犹太裔哲学家斯宾诺莎(Baruch Spinoza,1632-1677)以及杰出的犹太拉比门那塞·本·以斯瑞尔(Menasseben Israel,1604-1657)过从甚密。“‘犹太’伦勃朗”展览的负责人埃德华··沃伦说:“伦勃朗的作品中经常出现圆顶无沿帽、大胡子、杏仁眼、大鼻子等事物,他也经常在作品中使用希伯来文字母,所有这些都使人们——尤其是19世纪的犹太收藏家——觉得他与犹太人之间有密切联系。有人甚至认为他已经接受了犹太教义。直到今天,还有人在各种会议上问我伦勃朗是不是秘密加入了犹太教。”然而,这类的说法究竟有多大的可信度呢?

“‘犹太’伦勃朗”展览无情地否定了这些带有浪漫色彩的说法。根据展览内容,“犹太区”在伦勃朗时代的名称是“艺术家区”,而他作品中那些戴着无沿小帽、留着大胡子、读着希伯来文本的人实际上是基督教神职人员。根据传说,伦勃朗所画基督的原型是他在犹太教堂里遇见的一个模特;有关记载却表明,他那幅画是根据一名中世纪僧侣的描述来创作的。除此之外,“犹太新娘”也是一个错误的标题。根据艺术史专家的研究,那幅画描绘的是《旧约·士师纪》里的一个故事:在与亚扪人(Ammonites)作战的时候,以色列士师耶弗他(Jefta)向上帝许愿,战胜之后以从家门出来迎接自己的第一个人向上帝献祭,结果发现那个人是自己的独生女儿。因此,那幅画画的是耶弗他和他的女儿,并不是什么犹太夫妇。

·沃伦说:“实际上,只有一幅画经得起考验,那就是犹太医生厄尔拉姆·布埃诺的画像。他是伦勃朗的邻居,那幅画也的确出于伦勃朗的手笔。”除了这幅画以外,只有两个确实的证据能显示伦勃朗与犹太人之间的渊源:一是伦勃朗写的一封信,里面讲到了他和一位犹太邻居之间的争执;另一个是一位犹太商人发布的一份经过公证的声明,其中指责伦勃朗受托为该商人之女所作的画像跟本人完全不像。

English is introduced

Rembrandt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (/ˈrɛmbrænt, -brɑːnt/;[2]Dutch: [ˈrɛmbrɑnt ˈɦɑrmə(n)soːn vɑn ˈrɛin]; 15 July 1606[1] – 4 October 1669) was a Dutch draughtsman, painter andprintmaker. A prolific and versatile master across three media, he is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art and the most important in Dutch art history.[3] Unlike most Dutch Masters of the 17th century, Rembrandt's works depict a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits, self-portraits, to landscapes, genre scenes, allegorical and historical scenes, biblical and mythological themes as well as animal studies. His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age when Dutch Golden Age painting, although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative, and gave rise to important new genres in painting.

Rembrandt never went abroad, but he was considerably influenced by the work of the Italian old masters and Netherlandish (Low Countries) painters who had studied in Italy, like Pieter Lastman, the Utrecht Caravaggists, and Flemish Baroque Peter Paul Rubens. Having achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt's later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships. Yet his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high,[4] and for twenty years he taught many important Dutch painters.[5]

Rembrandt's greatest creative triumphs are his portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.[3] His reputation as the greatest etcher in the history of the medium was established in his lifetime, and never questioned since. Few of his paintings left the Dutch Republic whilst he lived, but his printswere circulated throughout Europe, and his wider reputation was initially based on them alone.

In his paintings and prints he exhibited knowledge of classicaliconography, which he molded to fit the requirements of his own experience; thus, the depiction of a biblical scene was informed by Rembrandt's knowledge of the specific text, his assimilation of classical composition, and his observations of Amsterdam's Jewish population.[6] Because of his empathy for the human condition, he has been called "one of the great prophets of civilization."

Life

Rembrandt[8] Harmenszoon van Rijn was born on 15 July 1606 in Leiden,[1] in the Dutch Republic, now the Netherlands. He was the ninth child born to Harmen Gerritszoon van Rijn and Neeltgen Willemsdochter van Zuijtbrouck.[9] His family was quite well-to-do; his father was a miller and his mother was a baker's daughter. Religion is a central theme in Rembrandt's paintings and the religiously fraught period in which he lived makes his faith a matter of interest. His mother was Roman Catholic, and his father belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church. While his work reveals deep Christian faith, there is no evidence that Rembrandt formally belonged to any church, although he had five of his children christened in Dutch Reformed churches in Amsterdam: four in the Oude Kerk (Old Church) and one, Titus, in the Zuiderkerk (Southern Church).[10]

As a boy he attended Latin school and was enrolled at the University of Leiden, although according to a contemporary he had a greater inclination towards painting; he was soon apprenticed to a Leiden history painter, Jacob van Swanenburgh, with whom he spent three years.[11] After a brief but important apprenticeship of six months with the painter Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam, Rembrandt stayed a few months with Jacob Pynas and then started his own workshop, though Simon van Leeuwen claimed that Joris van Schooten taught Rembrandt in Leiden.[11][12] Unlike many of his contemporaries who traveled to Italy as part of their artistic training, Rembrandt never ventured more than 60 miles from Amsterdam during his lifetime.[13][14]

He opened a studio in Leiden in 1624 or 1625, which he shared with friend and colleague Jan Lievens. In 1627, Rembrandt began to accept students, among them Gerrit Dou in 1628.[15]

In 1629, Rembrandt was discovered by the statesman Constantijn Huygens (father of the Dutch mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens), who procured for Rembrandt important commissions from the court of The Hague. As a result of this connection, Prince Frederik Hendrik continued to purchase paintings from Rembrandt until 1646.[16]

At the end of 1631 Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, then rapidly expanding as the new business capital of the Netherlands, and began to practice as a professional portraitist for the first time, with great success. He initially stayed with an art dealer, Hendrick van Uylenburgh, and in 1634, married Hendrick's cousin, Saskia van Uylenburgh.[17][18] Saskia came from a good family: her father had been a lawyer and the burgemeester (mayor) ofLeeuwarden. When Saskia, as the youngest daughter, became an orphan, she lived with an older sister in Het Bildt. Rembrandt and Saskia were married in the local church of St. Annaparochie without the presence of Rembrandt's relatives.[19] In the same year, Rembrandt became a burgess of Amsterdam and a member of the local guild of painters. He also acquired a number of students, among them Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck.[20]

In 1635 Rembrandt and Saskia moved into their own house, renting in fashionable Nieuwe Doelenstraat. In 1639 they moved to a prominent newly built house (now the Rembrandt House Museum) in the upscale 'Breestraat' (eng.: 'Broadway'), today known as Jodenbreestraat (Jodenbreestraat 4,1011 NK Amsterdam-now) in what was becoming the Jewish quarter; then a young upcoming neighborhood. The mortgage to finance the 13,000 guilder purchase would be a primary cause for later financial difficulties.[20] Rembrandt should easily have been able to pay the house off with his large income, but it appears his spending always kept pace with his income, and he may have made some unsuccessful investments.[21] It was there that Rembrandt frequently sought his Jewish neighbors to model for his Old Testament scenes.[22] Although they were by now affluent, the couple suffered several personal setbacks; their son Rumbartus died two months after his birth in 1635 and their daughter Cornelia died at just three weeks of age in 1638. In 1640, they had a second daughter, also named Cornelia, who died after living barely over a month. Only their fourth child, Titus, who was born in 1641, survived into adulthood. Saskia died in 1642 soon after Titus's birth, probably from tuberculosis. Rembrandt's drawings of her on her sick and death bed are among his most moving works.[23]

During Saskia's illness, Geertje Dircx was hired as Titus' caretaker and nurse and also became Rembrandt's lover. She would later charge Rembrandt with breach of promise (a euphemism for seduction under [breached] promise to marry) and was awarded alimony of 200 guilders a year.[20] Rembrandt worked to have her committed for twelve years to an asylum or poorhouse (called a "bridewell") at Gouda, after learning she had pawned jewelry that had once belonged to Saskia and that he had given to her.

In the late 1640s Rembrandt began a relationship with the much younger Hendrickje Stoffels, who had initially been his maid. In 1654 they had a daughter, Cornelia, bringing Hendrickje a summons from the Reformed Church to answer the charge "that she had committed the acts of a whore with Rembrandt the painter". She admitted this and was banned from receiving communion. Rembrandt was not summoned to appear for the Church council because he was not a member of the Reformed Church.[25] The two were considered legally wed under common law, but Rembrandt had not married Hendrickje. Had he remarried he would have lost access to a trust set up for Titus in Saskia's will.[23]

Rembrandt lived beyond his means, buying art (including bidding up his own work), prints (often used in his paintings) and rarities, which probably caused a court arrangement to avoid his bankruptcy in 1656, by selling most of his paintings and large collection of antiquities. The sale list survives and gives us a good insight into Rembrandt's collections, which, apart from Old Master paintings and drawings, included busts of the Roman Emperors, suits of Japanese armor among many objects from Asia, and collections of natural history and minerals. But the prices realized in the sales in 1657 and 1658 were disappointing.[26] Rembrandt was forced to sell his house and his printing-press and move to more modest accommodation on the Rozengracht in 1660.[27] The authorities and his creditors were generally accommodating to him, except for the Amsterdam painters' guild, which introduced a new rule that no one in Rembrandt's circumstances could trade as a painter. To get around this, Hendrickje and Titus set up a business as art dealers in 1660, with Rembrandt as an employee.[28]

In 1661 Rembrandt (or rather the new business) was contracted to complete work for the newly built city hall, but only after Govert Flinck, the artist previously commissioned, died without beginning to paint. The resulting work, The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, was rejected and returned to the painter; the surviving fragment is only a fraction of the whole work.[29] It was around this time that Rembrandt took on his last apprentice, Aert de Gelder. In 1662 he was still fulfilling major commissions for portraits and other works.[30] When Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany came to Amsterdam in 1667, he visited Rembrandt at his house.[31]

Rembrandt outlived both Hendrickje, who died in 1663, and Titus, who died in 1668, leaving a baby daughter. He died within a year of his son, on 4 October 1669 in Amsterdam, and was buried as a poor man.[32][33] in an unknown grave in the Westerkerk. It was in a numbered 'kerkgraf' (grave owned by the church) somewhere under a tombstone in the church. After twenty years, his remains were taken away and destroyed, as was customary with the remains of poor people at the time.

Works

See also: List of paintings by Rembrandt, List of etchings by Rembrandt, andList of drawings by Rembrandt

In a letter to Huygens, Rembrandt offered the only surviving explanation of what he sought to achieve through his art: the greatest and most natural movement, translated from de meeste en de natuurlijkste beweegelijkheid. The word "beweegelijkheid" is also argued to mean "emotion" or "motive." Whether this refers to objectives, material or otherwise, is open to interpretation; either way, critics have drawn particular attention to the way Rembrandt seamlessly melded the earthly and spiritual.[34]

Earlier 20th century connoisseurs claimed Rembrandt had produced over 600 paintings, nearly 400 etchings and 2,000 drawings.[35] More recent scholarship, from the 1960s to the present day (led by the Rembrandt Research Project), often controversially, has winnowed his oeuvre to nearer 300 paintings.[36] His prints, traditionally all called etchings, although many are produced in whole or part by engraving and sometimes drypoint, have a much more stable total of slightly under 300.[37] It is likely Rembrandt made many more drawings in his lifetime than 2,000, but those extant are more rare than presumed.[38] Two experts claim that the number of drawings whose autograph status can be regarded as effectively "certain" is no higher than about 75, although this is disputed. The list was to be unveiled at a scholarly meeting in February 2010.[39]

At one time about ninety paintings were counted as Rembrandt self-portraits, but it is now known that he had his students copy his own self-portraits as part of their training. Modern scholarship has reduced the autograph count to over forty paintings, as well as a few drawings and thirty-one etchings, which include many of the most remarkable images of the group.[40] Some show him posing in quasi-historical fancy dress, or pulling faces at himself. His oil paintings trace the progress from an uncertain young man, through the dapper and very successful portrait-painter of the 1630s, to the troubled but massively powerful portraits of his old age. Together they give a remarkably clear picture of the man, his appearance and his psychological make-up, as revealed by his richly weathered face.[41]

In his portraits and self-portraits, he angles the sitter's face in such a way that the ridge of the nose nearly always forms the line of demarcation between brightly illuminated and shadowy areas. A Rembrandt face is a face partially eclipsed; and the nose, bright and obvious, thrusting into the riddle of halftones, serves to focus the viewer's attention upon, and to dramatize, the division between a flood of light—an overwhelming clarity—and a brooding duskiness.[42]

In a number of biblical works, including The Raising of the Cross, Joseph Telling His Dreams and The Stoning of Saint Stephen, Rembrandt painted himself as a character in the crowd. Durham suggests that this was because the Bible was for Rembrandt "a kind of diary, an account of moments in his own life."[43]

Among the more prominent characteristics of Rembrandt's work are his use of chiaroscuro, the theatrical employment of light and shadow derived from Caravaggio, or, more likely, from the Dutch Caravaggisti, but adapted for very personal means.[44] Also notable are his dramatic and lively presentation of subjects, devoid of the rigid formality that his contemporaries often displayed, and a deeply felt compassion for mankind, irrespective of wealth and age. His immediate family—his wife Saskia, his son Titus and his common-law wife Hendrickje—often figured prominently in his paintings, many of which had mythical, biblical or historical themes.

Periods, themes and styles[edit]

Throughout his career Rembrandt took as his primary subjects the themes of portraiture, landscape and narrative painting. For the last, he was especially praised by his contemporaries, who extolled him as a masterly interpreter of biblical stories for his skill in representing emotions and attention to detail.[46] Stylistically, his paintings progressed from the early "smooth" manner, characterized by fine technique in the portrayal of illusionistic form, to the late "rough" treatment of richly variegated paint surfaces, which allowed for an illusionism of form suggested by the tactile quality of the paint itself.[47]

A parallel development may be seen in Rembrandt's skill as a printmaker. In the etchings of his maturity, particularly from the late 1640s onward, the freedom and breadth of his drawings and paintings found expression in the print medium as well. The works encompass a wide range of subject matter and technique, sometimes leaving large areas of white paper to suggest space, at other times employing complex webs of line to produce rich dark tones.[48]

It was during Rembrandt's Leiden period (1625–1631) that Lastman's influence was most prominent. It is also likely that at this time Lievens had a strong impact on his work as well.[49] Paintings were rather small, but rich in details (for example, in costumes and jewelry). Religious and allegorical themes were favored, as weretronies.[49] In 1626 Rembrandt produced his first etchings, the wide dissemination of which would largely account for his international fame.[49] In 1629 he completed Judas Repentant, Returning the Pieces of Silver and The Artist in His Studio, works that evidence his interest in the handling of light and variety of paint application, and constitute the first major progress in his development as a painter.[50]

 

During his early years in Amsterdam (1632–1636), Rembrandt began to paint dramatic biblical and mythological scenes in high contrast and of large format (The Blinding of Samson, 1636, Belshazzar's Feast, c. 1635 Danaë, 1636), seeking to emulate the baroque style of Rubens.[51] With the occasional help of assistants in Uylenburgh's workshop, he painted numerous portrait commissions both small (Jacob de Gheyn III) and large (Portrait of the Shipbuilder Jan Rijcksen and his Wife, 1633, Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, 1632).[52]

By the late 1630s Rembrandt had produced a few paintings and many etchings oflandscapes. Often these landscapes highlighted natural drama, featuring uprooted trees and ominous skies (Cottages before a Stormy Sky, c. 1641; The Three Trees, 1643). From 1640 his work became less exuberant and more sober in tone, possibly reflecting personal tragedy. Biblical scenes were now derived more often from the New Testament than the Old Testament, as had been the case before. In 1642 he painted The Night Watch, the most substantial of the important group portrait commissions which he received in this period, and through which he sought to find solutions to compositional and narrative problems that had been attempted in previous works.[53]

In the decade following the Night Watch, Rembrandt's paintings varied greatly in size, subject, and style. The previous tendency to create dramatic effects primarily by strong contrasts of light and shadow gave way to the use of frontal lighting and larger and more saturated areas of color. Simultaneously, figures came to be placed parallel to the picture plane. These changes can be seen as a move toward a classical mode of composition and, considering the more expressive use of brushwork as well, may indicate a familiarity with Venetian art (Susanna and the Elders, 1637–47).[54] At the same time, there was a marked decrease in painted works in favor of etchings and drawings of landscapes.[55] In these graphic works natural drama eventually made way for quiet Dutch rural scenes.

In the 1650s, Rembrandt's style changed again. Colors became richer and brush strokes more pronounced. With these changes, Rembrandt distanced himself from earlier work and current fashion, which increasingly inclined toward fine, detailed works. His use of light becomes more jagged and harsh, and shine becomes almost nonexistent. His singular approach to paint application may have been suggested in part by familiarity with the work of Titian, and could be seen in the context of the then current discussion of 'finish' and surface quality of paintings. Contemporary accounts sometimes remark disapprovingly of the coarseness of Rembrandt's brushwork, and the artist himself was said to have dissuaded visitors from looking too closely at his paintings.[57] The tactile manipulation of paint may hearken to medieval procedures, when mimetic effects of rendering informed a painting's surface. The end result is a richly varied handling of paint, deeply layered and often apparently haphazard, which suggests form and space in both an illusory and highly individual manner.[58]

In later years biblical themes were still depicted often, but emphasis shifted from dramatic group scenes to intimate portrait-like figures (James the Apostle, 1661). In his last years, Rembrandt painted his most deeply reflective self-portraits (from 1652 to 1669 he painted fifteen), and several moving images of both men and women (The Jewish Bride, c. 1666)—in love, in life, and before God.[59][60]

Etchings[edit]

 

Rembrandt produced etchings for most of his career, from 1626 to 1660, when he was forced to sell his printing-press and practically abandoned etching. Only the troubled year of 1649 produced no dated work.[61] He took easily to etching and, though he also learned to use a burin and partly engraved many plates, the freedom of etching technique was fundamental to his work. He was very closely involved in the whole process of printmaking, and must have printed at least early examples of his etchings himself. At first he used a style based on drawing, but soon moved to one based on painting, using a mass of lines and numerous bitings with the acid to achieve different strengths of line. Towards the end of the 1630s, he reacted against this manner and moved to a simpler style, with fewer bitings.[62] He worked on the so-called Hundred Guilder Print in stages throughout the 1640s, and it was the "critical work in the middle of his career", from which his final etching style began to emerge.[63] Although the print only survives in two states, the first very rare, evidence of much reworking can be seen underneath the final print and many drawings survive for elements of it.[64]

In the mature works of the 1650s, Rembrandt was more ready to improvise on the plate and large prints typically survive in several states, up to eleven, often radically changed. He now uses hatching to create his dark areas, which often take up much of the plate. He also experimented with the effects of printing on different kinds of paper, including Japanese paper, which he used frequently, and on vellum. He began to use "surface tone," leaving a thin film of ink on parts of the plate instead of wiping it completely clean to print each impression. He made more use of drypoint, exploiting, especially in landscapes, the rich fuzzy burr that this technique gives to the first few impressions.[65]

His prints have similar subjects to his paintings, although the twenty-seven self-portraits are relatively more common, and portraits of other people less so. There are forty-six landscapes, mostly small, which largely set the course for the graphic treatment of landscape until the end of the 19th century. One third of his etchings are of religious subjects, many treated with a homely simplicity, whilst others are his most monumental prints. A few erotic, or just obscene, compositions have no equivalent in his paintings.[66] He owned, until forced to sell it, a magnificent collection of prints by other artists, and many borrowings and influences in his work can be traced to artists as diverse as Mantegna, Raphael, Hercules Seghers, and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione.

The Night Watch[edit]

Main article: The Night Watch

Rembrandt painted the large painting The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq between 1640 and 1642. This picture was called De Nachtwacht by the Dutch and The Night Watch by SirJoshua Reynolds because by the 18th century the picture was so dimmed and defaced that it was almost indistinguishable, and it looked quite like a night scene. After it was cleaned, it was discovered to represent broad day—a party of musketeers stepping from a gloomy courtyard into the blinding sunlight.

The piece was commissioned for the new hall of theKloveniersdoelen, the musketeer branch of the civic militia. Rembrandt departed from convention, which ordered that such genre pieces should be stately and formal, rather a line-up than an action scene. Instead he showed the militia readying themselves to embark on a mission (what kind of mission, an ordinary patrol or some special event, is a matter of debate).

Contrary to what is often said, the work was hailed as a success from the beginning. Parts of the canvas were cut off (approximately 20% from the left hand side was removed) to make the painting fit its new position when it was moved to Amsterdam town hall in 1715; the Rijksmuseum has a smaller copy of what is thought to be the full original composition; the four figures in the front are at the centre of the canvas. The painting is now in theRijksmuseum, Amsterdam.[67]

Expert assessments[edit]

See also: Rembrandt catalog raisonné, 1968

In 1968 the Rembrandt Research Project began under the sponsorship of the Netherlands Organization for the Advancement of Scientific Research; it was initially expected to last a highly optimistic ten years. Art historians teamed up with experts from other fields to reassess the authenticity of works attributed to Rembrandt, using all methods available, including state-of-the-art technical diagnostics, and to compile a complete new catalogue raisonné of his paintings. As a result of their findings, many paintings that were previously attributed to Rembrandt have been removed from their list, although others have been added back.[68] Many of those removed are now thought to be the work of his students.

One example of activity is The Polish Rider, in New York's Frick Collection. Rembrandt's authorship had been questioned by at least one scholar, Alfred von Wurzbach, at the beginning of the twentieth century, but for many decades later most scholars, including the foremost authority writing in English, Julius S. Held, agreed that it was indeed by the master. In the 1980s, however, Dr. Josua Bruyn of the Foundation Rembrandt Research Project cautiously and tentatively attributed the painting to one of Rembrandt's closest and most talented pupils, Willem Drost, about whom little is known. But Bruyn's remained a minority opinion, the suggestion of Drost's authorship is now generally rejected, and the Frick itself never changed its own attribution, the label still reading "Rembrandt" and not "attributed to" or "school of". More recent opinion has shifted even more decisively in favor of the Frick, with Simon Schama (in his 1999 book Rembrandt's Eyes) and the Rembrandt Project scholar Ernst van de Wetering (Melbourne Symposium, 1997) both arguing for attribution to the master. Those few scholars who still question Rembrandt's authorship feel that the execution is uneven, and favour different attributions for different parts of the work.[69]

 

A similar issue was raised by Simon Schama in his book Rembrandt's Eyesconcerning the verification of titles associated with the subject matter depicted in Rembrandt's works. For example, the exact subject being portrayed in Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (recently retitled by curators at the Metropolitan Museum) has been directly challenged by Schama applying the scholarship of Paul Crenshaw.[71] Schama presents a substantial argument that it was the famous ancient Greek painter Apelles who is depicted in contemplation by Rembrandt and not Aristotle.[72]

Another painting, Pilate Washing His Hands, is also of questionable attribution. Critical opinion of this picture has varied since 1905, when Wilhelm von Bode described it as "a somewhat abnormal work" by Rembrandt. Scholars have since dated the painting to the 1660s and assigned it to an anonymous pupil, possibly Aert de Gelder. The composition bears superficial resemblance to mature works by Rembrandt but lacks the master's command of illumination and modeling.[73]

The attribution and re-attribution work is ongoing. In 2005 four oil paintings previously attributed to Rembrandt's students were reclassified as the work of Rembrandt himself: Study of an Old Man in Profile and Study of an Old Man with a Beard from a US private collection, Study of a Weeping Woman, owned by theDetroit Institute of Arts, and Portrait of an Elderly Woman in a White Bonnet, painted in 1640.[74]The Old Man Sitting in a Chair is a further example: in 2014, Professor Ernst van de Wetering offered his view to The Guardian[75] that the demotion of the 1652 painting Old Man Sitting in a Chair "was a vast mistake...it is a most important painting. The painting needs to be seen in terms of Rembrandt’s experimentation”. This was highlighted much earlier by Nigel Konstam who studied Rembrandt throughout his career.

Rembrandt's own studio practice is a major factor in the difficulty of attribution, since, like many masters before him, he encouraged his students to copy his paintings, sometimes finishing or retouching them to be sold as originals, and sometimes selling them as authorized copies. Additionally, his style proved easy enough for his most talented students to emulate. Further complicating matters is the uneven quality of some of Rembrandt's own work, and his frequent stylistic evolutions and experiments.[76] As well, there were later imitations of his work, and restorations which so seriously damaged the original works that they are no longer recognizable.[77] It is highly likely that there will never be universal agreement as to what does and what does not constitute a genuine Rembrandt.

Painting materials

Technical investigation of Rembrandt's paintings in the possession of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister[78] and in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Kassel)[79] has been conducted by Hermann Kühn in 1977. The pigment analyses of some thirty paintings have shown that Rembrandt's palette consisted of the following pigments: lead white, various ochres, Vandyke brown, bone black, charcoal black, lamp black, vermilion, madder lake, azurite,ultramarine, yellow lake and lead-tin-yellow. One painting (Saskia van Uylenburgh as Flora)[80] reportedly contains gamboge. Rembrandt very rarely used pure blue or green colors, the most pronounced exception beingBelshazzar's Feast[81][82] in the National Gallery in London. The book by Bomford (above reference) describes more recent technical investigations and pigment analyses of Rembrandt's paintings predominantly in the National Gallery in London. The best source for technical information on Rembrandt's paintings on the web is the Rembrandt Database containing all works of Rembrandt with detailed investigative reports, infrared and radiography images and other scientific details.[83]

Name and signature

"Rembrandt" is a modification of the spelling of the artist's first name that he introduced in 1633. Roughly speaking, his earliest signatures (ca. 1625) consisted of an initial "R", or the monogram "RH" (for Rembrant Harmenszoon; i.e. "Rembrant, the son of Harmen"), and starting in 1629, "RHL" (the "L" stood, presumably, for Leiden). In 1632, he used this monogram early in the year, then added his family name to it, "RHL-van Rijn", but replaced this form in that same year and began using his first name alone with its original spelling, "Rembrant". In 1633 he added a "d", and maintained this form consistently from then on, proving that this minor change had a meaning for him (whatever it might have been). This change is purely visual; it does not change the way his name is pronounced. Curiously enough, despite the large number of paintings and etchings signed with this modified first name, most of their documents that mentioned him during his lifetime retained the original "Rembrant" spelling. (Note: the rough chronology of signature forms above applies to the paintings, and to a lesser degree to the etchings; from 1632, presumably, there is only one etching signed "RHL-v. Rijn," the large-format "Raising of Lazarus," B 73).[84] His practice of signing his work with his first name, later followed by Vincent van Gogh, was probably inspired by Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo who, then as now, were referred to by their first names alone.[85]

Workshop

 

Rembrandt ran a large workshop and had many pupils. The list of Rembrandt pupils from his period in Leiden as well as his time in Amsterdam is quite long, mostly because his influence on painters around him was so great that it is difficult to tell whether someone worked for him in his studio or just copied his style for patrons eager to acquire a Rembrandt. A partial list should include[86] Ferdinand Bol, Adriaen Brouwer, Gerrit Dou, Willem Drost,Heiman Dullaart, Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, Carel Fabritius, Govert Flinck,Hendrick Fromantiou, Aert de Gelder, Samuel Dirksz van Hoogstraten, Abraham Janssens, Godfrey Kneller, Philip de Koninck, Jacob Levecq, Nicolaes Maes,Jürgen Ovens, Christopher Paudiß, Willem de Poorter, Jan Victors, and Willem van der Vliet.

Museum collections

The most notable collections of Rembrandt's work are at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, includingThe Night Watch and The Jewish Bride, theMauritshuis in The Hague, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the National Gallery in London, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, The Louvre, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, and Schloss Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel. The Royal Castle in Warsaw displays two paintings by Rembrandt.[87]

Notable collections of Rembrandt's paintings in the USA are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Frick Collection in New York City, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.[88]

The Rembrandt House Museum in central Amsterdam in the house he bought at the height of his success has furnishings that are mostly not original, but period pieces comparable to those Rembrandt might have had, and paintings reflecting Rembrandt's use of the house for art dealing. His printmaking studio has been set up with a printing press, where replica prints are printed. The museum has a few Rembrandt paintings, many loaned, but an important collection of his prints, a good selection of which are on rotating display. All majorprint rooms have large collections of Rembrandt prints, although as some exist in only a single impression, no collection is complete. The degree to which these collections are displayed to the public, or can easily be viewed by them in the print room, varies greatly.

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