Tag Archives: Rembrandt

#FineArtFriday: Rembrandt as Shepherd with Staff and Flute, by Govert Flink 1636

About the artist: Born at Kleve, capital of the Duchy of Cleves, which was occupied at the time by the United Provinces, Govert Flinck was apprenticed by his father to a silk merchant, but in 1627 he was sent to Leeuwarden, where he boarded in the house of Lambert Jacobszoon. Jaobszoon was a Mennonite (one of the historic peace churches known for their commitment to pacifism). While Jacobszoon is better known as a preacher, he was a talented painter and an excellent teacher.

While studying there, Flinck met some of Jacobszoon’s neighbors, relatives of Saskia van Uylenburgh, who had married Rembrandt in 1634. That same year he began studying with Rembrandt.

Flinck is acknowledged as one of Rembrandt’s best pupils.

I really enjoy this romantic painting of Rembrandt dressed as a shepherd, holding a flute, and thinking about…what? Rembrandt’s contemplative expression seems peaceful.  The details are wonderful – from the finely worked trim on his garments down to the jewel dangling from his right ear, a gem that softly glows. The grains of the wood in both the flute and staff are subtle and real. The light falls perfectly – Flinck captured the personality of the master as a handsome young man during the happiest time of his life, and it seems as if Rembrandt himself enjoyed posing for it.

For more than a decade, Flinck’s work echoed that of Rembrandt, clearly influenced by the master’s style in the work which he executed between 1636 and 1648. As time passed, he began to desire to be a history painter, a genre in painting that  is defined by its subject matter rather than artistic style, and turned to the work of Peter Paul Rubens. In later years, Flinck had great commercial success, receiving many commissions for official and diplomatic paintings.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt als herder met staf en fluit Rijksmuseum SK-A-3451.jpeg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_als_herder_met_staf_en_fluit_Rijksmuseum_SK-A-3451.jpeg&oldid=225225289 (accessed August 16, 2018).

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#FineArtFriday: Self Portrait, Rembrandt 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 his first wife, Saskia, who was the love of his life, and his wry acceptance of his own human frailties.

Money was a mystery to Rembrandt. He had no understanding of a budget, mishandled his son’s inheritance, spent far more than he earned, and didn’t pay his taxes. In short he was always in trouble with the authorities, always skirting the edges of disaster.

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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#FineArtFriday: History Painting, Titus (with self portrait of Rembrandt) by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn 1626

History Painting, Titus (with self portrait of Rembrandt) by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn 1626

  • Artist: Rembrandt  (1606–1669) Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
  • Title: Historical Scene.
  • Inscriptions: Monogram and date bottom right: RH 16[2]6
  • Object type: painting
  • Genre: history painting
  • Depicted people: Titus
  • Date: 1626
  • Medium: oil on oak panel
  • Dimensions: Height: 89.8 cm (35.3 in); Width: 121 cm (47.6 in)
  • Collection:   Museum De Lakenhal

What I love about this Painting:

This is one of Rembrandt’s earliest history paintings. The young artist went all out to compose and execute this painting. He scoured the city for props, and found old armor and weapons. Then he dressed the players richly in the finest garments of his own day, so as to befit a beloved and respected emperor.

Wikipedia says: Rembrandt’s portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits, and illustrations of scenes from the Bible are regarded as his greatest creative triumphs. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.

The level of detail in the weaponry and richly worked garments is remarkable, as are the faces and features of each of the players. Emperor Titus is portrayed as slightly larger than life, noble, wise, and kind.

In the background, hidden by the scepter, we find Rembrandt himself, the witness who happened to come upon the scene and is looking on with wonder. Of the witnesses, he alone is shown dressed in the unadorned muted gray woolen clothing of a common man.

We know Rembrandt was well educated in history, and admired the Emperor Titus greatly, as he named his only surviving son after him.

About the Roman Emperor Titus, the Subject of this Painting (via Wikipedia):

Vespasian died of an infection on 23 June 79 AD, and was immediately succeeded by his son Titus. As Pharaoh of Egypt, Titus adopted the titulary Autokrator Titos Kaisaros Hununefer Benermerut (“Emperor Titus Caesar, the perfect and popular youth”). Because of his many (alleged) vices, many Romans feared that he would be another Nero. Against these expectations, however, Titus proved to be an effective Emperor and was well loved by the population, who praised him highly when they found that he possessed the greatest virtues instead of vices.

One of his first acts as Emperor was to order a halt to trials based on treason charges, which had long plagued the principate. The law of treason, or law of majestas, was originally intended to prosecute those who had corruptly “impaired the people and majesty of Rome” by any revolutionary action. Under Augustus, however, this custom had been revived and applied to cover slander and libel as well. This led to numerous trials and executions under TiberiusCaligula, and Nero, and the formation of networks of informers (Delators), which terrorized Rome’s political system for decades.

Titus put an end to this practice, against himself or anyone else, declaring:

“It is impossible for me to be insulted or abused in any way. For I do naught that deserves censure, and I care not for what is reported falsely. As for the emperors who are dead and gone, they will avenge themselves in case anyone does them a wrong, if in very truth they are demigods and possess any power.”

Consequently, no senators were put to death during his reign; he thus kept to his promise that he would assume the office of Pontifex Maximus “for the purpose of keeping his hands unstained.” The informants were publicly punished and banished from the city. Titus further prevented abuses by making it unlawful for a person to be tried under different laws for the same offense.  Finally, when Berenice returned to Rome, he sent her away.

As Emperor he became known for his generosity, and Suetonius states that upon realizing he had brought no benefit to anyone during a whole day, Titus remarked, “Friends, I have lost a day.”


Credits and Attributions:

History Painting, Titus (with self portrait of Rembrandt) by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn 1626

Wikipedia contributors, “Titus,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,  https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Titus&oldid=950453618 (accessed April 24, 2020).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt Historical Painting 1626 (Detail, with self-portrait).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_Historical_Painting_1626_(Detail,_with_self-portrait).jpg&oldid=369318658 (accessed April 24, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: Belshazzar’s Feast by Rembrandt ca. 1635-1638

Artist:  Rembrandt  (1606–1669):Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

Title:   Belshazzar’s Feast

Genre: religious art (history painting)

Description: According to Daniel 5:1-31, King Belshazzar of Babylon takes sacred golden and silver vessels from the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar. Using these holy items, the King and his court praise ‘the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone’. Immediately, the disembodied fingers of a human hand appear and write on the wall of the royal palace the words “MENE”, “MENE”, “TEKEL”, “UPHARSIN”

Depicted people: Belshazzar

Date: circa 1635-1638

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 167.6 cm (65.9″); Width: 209.2 cm (82.3″)

Collection: National Gallery


What I love about this painting:

Rembrandt went to a great deal of expense and trouble to paint what he hoped would be seen as a masterpiece. He wanted to be a history painter, as that is where the fame was in his time. While the money was in portraits, Rembrandt also wanted fame. We know this painting was painted before his wife Saskia’s illnesses  and death in 1642, because she was the model for woman behind Belshazzar. She is depicted as being terrified by what is being written on the wall.

Every detail is there, from the finely worked golden ornaments and crown in Belshazzar’s headdress to the king’s golden earring in the shape of a crescent moon. His garments are covered in delicate embroideries in gold thread and sewn with pearls and beads of jet. The garments and jewelry of all the diners are rich and sumptuous; they too wear golden jewelry, with pearls and beads of jet. The shock of the diners, the combination of fear and indignation of the king at the appearance of the hand—these emotions are depicted as perfectly as are the extravagant garments.

About this painting, Via Wikpedia:

Rembrandt’s handling of painting materials and his painting technique in Belshazzar’s Feast are both exceptional and do not compare to any of his other works. The palette of this painting is unusually rich encompassing such pigments as vermilionsmaltlead-tin-yellowyellow and red lakesochres and azurite.


About the story, via Wikipedia:

Belshazzar’s feast, or the story of the writing on the wall (chapter 5 in the Book of Daniel) The story of Belshazzar and the writing on the wall originates in the Old Testament Book of Daniel. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar looted the Temple in Jerusalem and has stolen the sacred artefacts such as golden cups. His son Belshazzar used these cups for a great feast where the hand of God appeared and wrote the inscription on the wall prophesying the downfall of Belshazzar’s reign. The text on the wall says “mene, mene, tekel, upharsin“. Biblical scholars interpret this to mean “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; your kingdom is given to the Medes and Persians”.

The inscription on the wall is an interesting element in this painting. Rembrandt lived in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam and “derived the form of Hebrew inscription from a book by his friend, the learned Rabbi and printer, Menasseh ben Israel, yet mis-transcribed one of the characters and arranged them in columns, rather than right to left, as Hebrew is written.” This last detail is essential as it relates to the question of why Belshazzar and his advisers were not able to decipher the inscription and had to send for Daniel to help them with it.

The biblical story does not identify the language of the cryptic message, but it is generally assumed to be Aramaic, which, like Hebrew, is written in right-to-left rows, and not in right-to-left columns as in the painting. Although there is no accepted explanation why the Babylonian priests were unable to decipher the writing, the point of this unconventional arrangement – reading the text in the painting in the conventional row-wise left-to-right order results in a garbled message – may be to suggest why the text proved incomprehensible to the Babylonian wise men; indeed, this explanation is in accordance with the opinion of the amora Shmuel, which is mentioned in the Babylonian TalmudTractate Sanhedrin, 22a, among various dissenting views.


Sources and Attributions:

Belshazzar’s Feast by Rembrandt PD|100 via Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt-Belsazar.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt-Belsazar.jpg&oldid=363468240 (accessed January 31, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Belshazzar’s Feast (Rembrandt)’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 January 2020, 09:24 UTC, <https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Belshazzar%27s_Feast_(Rembrandt)&oldid=936202396> [accessed 31 January 2020]

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FineArtFriday: The Man With the Golden Helmet, Circle of Rembrandt

About this image, via Wikipedia:

The Man with the Golden Helmet (c. 1650) is an oil on canvas painting formerly attributed to the Dutch painter Rembrandt and today considered to be a work by someone in his circle.

Categorized as a work by Rembrandt for many years, doubts were expressed as to its provenance in 1984 by a Dutch curators’ commission specifically created to investigate Rembrandt works of questionable authenticity. They made their remarks whilst viewing the painting in West Berlin.

In November 1985, Berlin-based art expert Jan Kelch announced that important details in the painting’s style did not match the style of Rembrandt’s known works, and that the painting was probably painted in 1650 by one of Rembrandt’s students.

What I like about this painting:

This is a  wonderful portrait with a great mystery attached. It’s a classic example of a work by a student being good enough to be mistaken for the mentor’s work. Whichever of Rembrandt’s student did paint this man’s portrait, they were clearly on their way to great things in the art world. So far, the artist has not been identified, and most of Rembrandt’s students left large catalogs of work, all of which could be compared to it.

However, Rembrandt had many students, including his son, Titus.

Titus died very young but was known to be painting at the time this portrait is attributed to. He was nine, old enough to be apprenticed. Could this have been one of his lessons? Could the confusion have arisen because a father was teaching his young son the art of portrait painting? No works with his signature survive that I know of, although I admit I am not an art historian. Regardless, much is like Rembrandt, enough to confuse the issue.

Just a Rembrandt fangirl, fantasizing.

A partial list of Rembrandt’s students can be found here Rembrandt’s Students.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Mann mit dem Goldhelm.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Mann_mit_dem_Goldhelm.jpg&oldid=318048571(accessed May 10, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “The Man with the Golden Helmet,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Man_with_the_Golden_Helmet&oldid=880858243 (accessed May 10, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Tronie of an Old Man by Rembrandt van Rijn

Tronie of an Old Man by Rembrandt van Rijn is a portrait of Rembrandt’s father, Harmen Gerritszoon van Rijn.  Harmen was a miller in Leiden.

About the word “tronie” from Wikipedia: A tronie (16/17th-century Dutch for “face”) is a common type, or group of types, of works common in Dutch Golden Age painting and Flemish Baroque painting that shows an exaggerated facial expression or a stock character in costume. It is related to the French word “tronche” which is slang for “mug” or head.

Rembrandt’s family was quite well-to-do and as such, young Rembrandt was educated in the best schools, which his father paid for.  Rembrandt’s father encouraged his son’s talent.

To my opinionated eyes, this painting shows Rembrandt’s affection for his father.

Rembrandt resembled  his father, if this portrait was accurate, and I think we can assume it was. As an artist, Rembrandt was unflinchingly honest in the portrayal of his subjects, while always managing to show their humanity.


Credits and Attributions

Tronie of and Old Man by Rembrandt van Rijn

Wikipedia contributors, “Tronie,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tronie&oldid=872242306 (accessed March 15, 2019).

Rembrandt and workshop [Public domain]

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#FineArtFriday: Rembrandt as Shepherd with Staff and Flute, by Govert Flink 1636

About the artist: Born at Kleve, capital of the Duchy of Cleves, which was occupied at the time by the United Provinces, Govert Flinck was apprenticed by his father to a silk merchant, but in 1627 he was sent to Leeuwarden, where he boarded in the house of Lambert Jacobszoon. Jaobszoon was a Mennonite (one of the historic peace churches known for their commitment to pacifism). While Jacobszoon is better known as a preacher, he was a talented painter and an excellent teacher.

While studying there, Flinck met some of Jacobszoon’s neighbors, relatives of Saskia van Uylenburgh, who had married Rembrandt in 1634. That same year he began studying with Rembrandt.

Flinck is acknowledged as one of Rembrandt’s best pupils.

I really enjoy this romantic painting of Rembrandt dressed as a shepherd, holding a flute, and thinking about…what? Rembrandt’s contemplative expression seems peaceful.  The details are wonderful – from the finely worked trim on his garments down to the jewel dangling from his right ear, a gem that softly glows. The grains of the wood in both the flute and staff are subtle and real. The light falls perfectly – Flinck captured the personality of the master as a handsome young man during the happiest time of his life, and it seems as if Rembrandt himself enjoyed posing for it.

For more than a decade, Flinck’s work echoed that of Rembrandt, clearly influenced by the master’s style in the work which he executed between 1636 and 1648. As time passed, he began to desire to be a history painter, a genre in painting that  is defined by its subject matter rather than artistic style, and turned to the work of Peter Paul Rubens. In later years, Flinck had great commercial success, receiving many commissions for official and diplomatic paintings.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt als herder met staf en fluit Rijksmuseum SK-A-3451.jpeg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_als_herder_met_staf_en_fluit_Rijksmuseum_SK-A-3451.jpeg&oldid=225225289 (accessed August 16, 2018).

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#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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