Rembrandt’s Genesis

Posted by on August 19th, 2010 at 6:01 AM

At HU, I talk about why Rembrandt is great.

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5 Responses to “Rembrandt’s Genesis”

  1. patford says:

    Here is Rembrandt’s etching of Abraham.
    It’s interesting I have eight different monographs on Rembrandt, and the etching is featured in several of them. The best reproduction in in the oldest book.
    Rembrandt Des Meisters Radierungen, Stuttgart 1906.
    It’s wonderful Rembrandt left such a complete record of his work at every stage. For example he printed his etchings as he was working on them, so we can follow the drawing from it’s sketchy inception to in some cases an incredibly refined degree of finish. (reproduction not very good here in the Google Image, but this is an etching not a half tone reproduction of a painting)
    Have you ever wondered about Vermeer? We know his work only from a handful of paintings. Vermeer must have been the genius he shows himself to be, but it’s almost possible given good taste, enough reference, the “camera” and a degree of craft, a person of good intellect could “construct” a painting.
    In the case of Rembrandt his genius is naked.

    • Noah Berlatsky says:

      Thanks for those links Pat. I need to get a book of Rembrandt’s sketches, as Matthias told me to. I love those drawings.

  2. patford says:

    As I said I’m partial to the etchings because Rembrandt often printed them as the etching progressed through it’s states. It’s a really interesting way to see the drawing evolve.
    It’s always interesting to see the working drawings of artists. The most important thing might be the end result, but the most impressive thing is often the rough draft. You can’t really “fake” a quick sketch.
    One reason Harvey Kurtzman’s initial layouts are far more impressive than the finished product in many instances.
    To my eye either Kurtzman’s pencil layout or colour guide seen here
    are impressive, but the published Annie pages are an abomination.

  3. patford says:

    A wonderful example of Rembrandt’s etching is his piece titled “Pygmalion” or “Artist Drawing From A Nude.”
    Rembrandt chose to print the etching in this state. The contrast of tonal value, and degree of finish creates a modern looking effect.
    As a composition the work is complete, there isn’t anything haphazard or unfinished about the design as printed.
    Another very interesting example of contrasted finish this time an ink drawing is “Saskia in Bed a Woman at Her Foot”

  4. patford says:

    Crumb has commented extensively on how he arrived at his depiction of god.
    It isn’t unusual at all for people to see things in different ways. What some see as subtle emotion in Crumbs expressive physiognomy, others see as only a few notes on a scale.
    Personally I much prefer Crumb’s approach while others might like what in my mind would come across as ham-fisted theatrics.
    Crumb could have done any number of the things people might wish he had done, but Crumb followed his own intent.
    Another artist could well take on the same task, and use a more interpretive approach. An artist could expanded the book by several 100 pages in an attempt to bring out even more of the text as sequential narrative.
    Whatever a person thinks of his choices Crumb did consider them. Crumb was really very successful in what he was doing. For example Noah sees Crumbs god just as Crumb wants Noah to see him.
    R.Crumb: ” if you actually read the Old Testament he’s just an old, cranky Jewish patriarch.”