#FineArtFriday: Rembrandt through his own eyes, 1659

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, commonly known simply as Rembrandt, is considered the finest artist of the 17th century. Some art historians consider him the finest artist in the history of art, and the most important artist in Dutch art history.

Speaking strictly as a Rembrandt fangirl and abject admirer, I consider his self-portraits to be more honest than those of any other artist.

Quote from Wikipedia: His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.

This honesty comes across in all his works featuring himself as the subject, even those where he portrays himself as a shepherd or the prodigal son. Each portrait shows an aspect of his personality, his sense of humor, his affection for Saskia who was the love of his life, and his wry acceptance of his own human frailties.

Rembrandt knew he was talented, but didn’t see himself as a creative genius. He was just a man with a passion for art, who lived beyond his means and died a pauper, as did Mozart, and as do most artists and authors.

I feel I know this man, more so than I do the person he was in his earlier self-portraits. He’s matured, lost some of the brashness of his youth. When I observe the man in this self-portrait, painted ten years before his death, I see a good-humored man just trying to live a frequently difficult life as well as he can. His face is lined and blemished, not as handsome as he once was. But his eyes seem both kind and familiar, filled with the understanding that comes from living with all one’s heart and experiencing both great joy and deep sorrow.

The art of Rembrandt van Rijn shows us his world as he saw it. Others may disagree with me, but I feel his greatest gift was the ability to convey personality with each portrait. This gift allowed him to portray every person he painted as they really were, blemished and yet beautiful. This is a gift he taught his students, and they were able to copy his style quite effectively, making discerning his true work difficult even for the experts.

Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “Rembrandt,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rembrandt&oldid=844357531(accessed June 8, 2018).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt van Rijn – Self-Portrait – Google Art Project.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_van_Rijn_-_Self-Portrait_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&oldid=292800848 (accessed June 8, 2018).


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4 responses to “#FineArtFriday: Rembrandt through his own eyes, 1659

  1. What a lovely perspective and tribute to an amazing artist, Connie.

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  2. I’m one of those ‘others’ who beg to differ, Connie. I think Rembrandt (1606-1669) is the best known and most popular artist of the 17th century because he’s been branded as such. However, my preference to Rembrandt would be Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610). But my favorite would be Louise Moillon (1610 – 1696). Some might argue Caravaggio was a 16th century artist, even though he produced a decade of art in the 17th prior to dying at 39. Ergo, I believe he qualifies as inclusive. Whereas Moillon was born 4 years before Rembrandt and continued painting 30 years after his death. Among other factors, Rembrandt and Moillon are the difference between darkness and light. But Shannon Blood is right. Your words have nonetheless painted a fine tribute to the Old Master.

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    • That is the beauty of art, Marguerite! The eye of the beholder is the medium though which the heart is touched, and each eye sees it differently. My current infatuation for old Dutch Masters is an absorbing project, offering me many hours of examining pictures others know well, but which are new to me. I am only discovering them in depth now, as it is a recent pastime for me. Wikimedia Commons and the Google Art project are a trove of wonderful images. I do enjoy the work of Caravaggio, but I’m currently enjoying researching Rembrandt’s genre work, especially the drama of the “Rembrandt Fakes” and their place in art history. Thank you so much for stopping by, and for offering your thoughts!

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