Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69) was a famous dutch artist who thrived in the Golden Age of Dutch Art in the 17th century. By 1925 he had became an independent master and he mostly worked out of Amsterdam. He was well connected with the Amsterdam people and leaders in a time when artistic patronage was blossoming. He even was able to start a following of pupils, where he taught them how to create the look that had made him famous. There wasn't a subject that Rembrandt couldn't draw or paint. Still life, landscapes, biblical scenes, you name it. His ability to masterfully paint any subject was unrivaled in the Netherlands. Rembrandt's amazing attetion to detail and the ability to capture meaning in a piece of art is why I chose to feature him.

This etching called the The three crosses was done with a burin and using the drypoint process. It was completed in 1653. It is a reference most likely to the Gospel of Luke chapter 23, the moment right before Jesus dies on the cross. There is a spotlight coming down from above that highlights Christ in the darkness that surrounds the edges of the etching. There are several figures from the bible including his mother Mary, and the centurion. The emotion can be seen extremely clearly from all the people in the picture. Christ is the focal point of the people's attention and the viewer is also immediately drawn there.

Here is the study drawing Saint Jerome Reading in a Landscape and it's etching with drypoint and burin, Saint Jerome Reading in an Italian Landscape. They were both done in 1653. The study drawing was done with pen, brown ink, brown wash, and heightened with white. St. Jerome supposedly tamed a lion by removing a thorn from it's paw. There are a few noticeable differences between the two works. The drawing has the background lit up and and the etching has Saint Jerome standing out. The large tree is also less noticable in the drawing. The drawing has a very clear foreground, mid-ground, and background and the lion has broad strokes to outline his shoulders. There is definitely a story to tell here with the lion standing over a ledge to distant buildings on the horizon. I really like the perspective of this drawing.

This is another interesting pair. Both are titled Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, but the drawing is dated 1659 and the painting was done in 1644. It is believed the drawing was done as a study for a new version that was never completed. The drawing has Jesus as the main eye-catcher, while the light in the painting falls on the woman. The pictures depict a story from the Gospel of John, when an adulteress is brought to Jesus to be stoned. The drawing really creates anticipation, because all heads are turned to Jesus. What is he going to say? His presence is in direct contrast with the helpless woman on the floor. The lighting in the painting creates a dramatic effect, especially with the dark and grand temple. Christ rises from the crowd, and will ultimately be the authority on the matter at hand. Once again, Rembrandt gives a remarkable amount of information for a familiar story.

I chose Rembrandt because of his talent to give so much meaning to a work of art. I really admire that each piece has a deep story and every little detail matters. No subject is too tough for Rembrandt. He is able to capture the important elements in his study drawings even if they seem simple at times. I especially appreciate his works that tell a biblical story. The biblical stories have so much meaning and relevancy to the human condition, and Rembrandt is expertly able to capture these emotions in each scene. I'll leave you with one of my favorites, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, oil on canvas, 1933.


Slive, Seymour. Rembrandt Drawings. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2009. Print.

Price, Alta L., Ed. Rembrandt. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2006. Print.

Williams, Hilary. Rembrandt. London: The British Museum Press, 2009. Print.

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