REMBRANDT (1608 - 1669)

 

        Rembrandt van Rijn is the greatest Dutch master, one of the supreme geniuses in the history of art. To this day the art of Rembrandt remains one of the most profound witnesses of the progress of the soul in its earthly pilgrimage toward the realiza­tion of a higher destiny. The son of a prosperous miller, Rem­brandt was bom in Leiden in 1608. He was trained as a painter by two minor local artists. His rapid success promoted him to move to Amsterdam in 1631.

         In 1632 Rembrandt's worldly success was assured. He had more commissions and pupils than he could accept. He married Suskia van Uylenburg, the lovely daughter of a wealthy family. He bought a splendid house, started a collection of paintings and rarities.

         The universal artist dealt with many world subjects. Rem­brandt painted, engraved and drew more than eighty selfpor­traits. Rembrandt was a master of portraiture. He created around fifty portraits.

         The best group portraits painted by Rembrandt are the Anato­my Lesson of Dr. Tulp, of 1632, and The Night Watch, of 1642. In the former Rembrandt has not only painted faces, beards and lace ruffles, he has given the composition a new drama. Mystery dominates in his painting, reminding the living of their own inevitable destiny. As for The Night Watch, the members of the Company of Captain F.B. Cocq were dissatisfied with the colos­sal group portrait. The subject of the painting is the formation of the militia company for a parade. Through wonderful effective lightning Rembrandt has turned a narrative prose into a drama­tic poetry. Real events are submerged in the symphonic tide of the colouring. All the men paid equally to have themselves de­picted, yet some are sunk in a shadow, one man is concealed except for his eyes. It was inevitable that Rembrandt would lose popularity as a portrait painter, although not at once.

        In Amsterdam Rembrandt began to paint in a highly imagi­native Baroque style. He was influenced by Caravaggio's sharp light-and-dark contrasts and by Rubens’s spiral compositions. A brilliant example of this is the Angel Leaving Tobit and Tobias, of 1637. Rembrandt has followed the book of Tobit available to him as a source in the Apocrypha. The formerly blind Tobit cured by the Archangel Raphael, prostrates himself in gratitude, while his son Tobias looks upward in wonder at the departing figure. Seen sharply from the back the angel is taken from the sight into an open cloud in a flash of light. Along with luminary effects goes a new technical freedom. The smooth, detailed early manner is gone. The forms are quickly sketched.

        In 1642 Saskia died. Rembrandt's commissions slackened off as a result of his unconventional painting. In 1655 Rembrandt found himself in the midst of several financial troubles. At that period he painted The Polish Rider. The precise meaning of this painting has not been determined. Probably it is an allegory of the man's earthly journey, its many dangers and uncertain desti­nation. In the grim and rocky valley a pool can be seen. Against the dark hill there is a hut. Near the crest there is a ruined castle. The youth rides in light, alert, with his weapons at ready. The figure and his horse stand forth in a new sculptural gran­deur, intensified by the fact that many of the impastos have been laid on with a palette knife. The artist carved the pigments, especially in the dark rocks and the bony forms of the horse.

Etching played a special role in Rembrandt’s yast production. He produced more than 290 etchings. For him it was an inde-

 

 

Notes

Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp— «Урок анатомии доктора Тулпа»

The Night Watch —«Ночной дозор»

The Polish Rider— «Польский всадник»

Return of the Prodigal Son —«Возвращение блудного сына»

Holy Family— «Святое семейство»

John the Baptist Preaching— «Проповедь Иоанна Крестителя»

Abraham's Sacrifice— «Жертво приношение Авраама»

Moses Breaking the tablets —«Моисей соскрижалями законов»

Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalen— «Явление Христа Марии Маг­далине»

Rape of Ganymede— «Похищение Ганемеда»

Diana Bathing with her Nymphs, with the Stories of Acteon and Callisto — «Диана, купающаяся с нимфами»

Self-Portrait «Автопортрет»

Belshazzar's Feast— «Пир Валтасара»

Suskia van Uylenburg — Саския ван Эйленборх

 

 

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