Thursday, April 7, 2011

A little Rembrandt



Only the time (and energy) for a short post today as I'm dealing with some sad personal business this week. Hopefully I'll be back to a more regular blogging schedule in a few days. 

Above is a very tender painting of one of Rembrandt's wives bathing. I always wondered if she was doing this at midnight or in a cave it's so dark. Yet that darkness is a foil for the brilliant light on the woman's torso. We sense this woman has a depth and personality to her in part because she generates a variety of shapes for our eye. Look at the rounded edge of her updrawn bottom hem compared to the almost straight lines of the "v" shaped neckline. One of the big challenges an artist faces is getting a variety of lines into the painting, and then getting them to look like they're in conversation with each other. Rembrandt does this swimmingly here.

This painting of a stone bridge deftlly knits together the heavens and earth. Notice how the painting has a series of zig zag diagonals running through it. The far shore of the river moves up diagonally from the lower right corner to meet the bridge. Parallel with that trajectory is the bottom edge of the topmost dark clouds. In addition the most distant trees at the left side create an opposing diagonal that slides in back of the one lone vertical tree and continues upward to the right in the top edge of the lower cloud mass. It's all beautifully handled. 

Rembrandt is great with his ability to create softness throughout a painting without getting too mushy. Both of these pictures are perfect examples of this. Nobody but nobody created a mood better than this painter.

2 comments:

  1. Hope things in your world get better soon Philip. Thanks for the Rembrandt and your comments. That landscape just took my breath away and I am embarrassed to say I don't think I have seen it before-can you tell more about it- title, size, etc?

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  2. Deborah, thanks. As for the Rembrandt landscape I really only know it's called The Stone Bridge or something like that. I don't know size or its whereabouts. But isn't it a heartbreakingly moving painting. I remember seeing it in reproduction in grad school and just being amazed.

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