Rembrandt: Saskia (1633) Drawing


Saskia (1633) _digital manipulated photo reproduction of Rembrandts drawing

Art Prose Rhyme

Mushtaq Bhat


The Man & The Artist

    An Artist Appraising His Artwork


Rembrandt_ selfportrait(1639_etching)

Self Portrait 1639  
Etching 207x164mm.
Photo (digital manipulated): URL1
Saskia 1633.
Drawing. Silberpoint.
Photo (digital manipulated): URL1

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

The Man & The Artist

Rembrandt. Etching. Cottages and canal. c. 1645 Photo digital manipulated

Cottages beside a canal; A view of Diemen (c.1645). Etching 81x108mm. Photo (digital manipulated):Source URL1


There are three main types of historically recognized art geniuses.

Those belonging to the first category may be considered to be the masters of their trade, i.e., masters of a medium, a technique, a stilistic nuance, a specific tradition or as is very much evident in our own modern times, as masters of an entirely personal episteme, quite often emerging as expressively emotional or interpretively cognitive transformers of sensory and cognitive inputs of their information overdosed times. These, generally more from the Pundits than the public acclaimed great artists operate more or less on a single plane or dimension.

Then there are those who imbue this one dimensional category with a message, a subtle symbolic that leashes its powers in a supra-cortical dimensions. Here a mere one dimensional specificity or material and technical singularity is coupled with an intrinsically spiritual reality or speaking in modern jargon, with a potent symbolical quintessence that evokes a social resonance. They operate in two dimensions.

These geniuses are generally celebrated both by the public and the art lovers. The Pundits may either in tune with the trend or responding grudgingly to their herd instinct, occasionally and that too only in an afterthought-post-mortem manner or because of vested interests or _ as it does sometimes albeit rarely happen _ due to a personally experienced emotional resonance, join in this general accolade. Some Pundits may however be happy with denouncing them for exactly that very resonance they evoke in other human beings.

Then there are a few, whose modus operandi may be truly called as multidimensional, or in very rare cases universal like that of a Shakespeare.

They evoke resonance from other equally great souls and other artists and the public in general. The Pundits generally turn conform, knowing well that their negative critic may sound here like personal pathological meanderings but if they posses an equally universal outlook as these great geniuses, they are usually more than willing to contribute to the universal acclaim. In that case however they cease to be Pundits but become average human beings, something that generally characterizes a universal genius.

Rembrandt like da Vinci, seems to all appearances to fit into the last category. It is no wonder, that he has been more than once regarded as an universal genius and even been compared to Shakespeare. The following appraisal of Rembrandt attempts to do justice to such statements.

Most of the, in the following article recounted historical facts pertaining to Rembrandt, his times and the space that he inhabited, are based on an excellent Monograph written by Christian Tümpel and published in German by Rowohlts Velag GmbH. 1977. I must admit Tümpel's compelling exposition has helped me to revise some of my own unfounded assumptions concerning this great artist. There is hardly any aspect of Rembrandts life, that Tümpel has not scrutinized and exposed with a praiseworthy affable empathy. And what a relief, I must say, to discover a contemporary biographical narrative, that is neither mystifying nor, concurrent to our age, demystifying a historical personality and a legend. His short and yet detailed narrative reveals an empathic eye for the humanness of Rembrandt but with a consistent regard for the facts, that the later generations have dug out, with many of them more often than not belying our age-old assumptions, concerning this great visual messenger of the seventeenth century Europe.

Rembrandt: Flute Player. Etching 1642. Photo digital manipulated

The Flute Player 1642 (detail). Etching. 115 x 144 mm. Photo (digital manipulated): Source URL1

Supplemented, of course amongst others with resources from web, especially from the highly recommendable one dedicated to Rembrandt by Jonathan Janson; the source of many of the reproductions of the etchings and paintings of Rembrandt, some of which have been here, for contextual, layout or bandwidth reasons, digitally manipulated or occasionally enhanced. If you are not familiar with Rembrandt's works, there is no dearth of resources on the World Wide Web, where you can view high resolution and relatively more accurate reproductions of the original works. If you are interested, you can start with Janson’s site or other dedicated sites, prior to jumping to the resources at the Universities and Museums. Since quite a number of artworks, attributed by earlier scholarship or the general public to Rembrandt have been (hopefully) conclusively proved to be from either his school or other artists and also because apparently the authenticity of a number of his works (paintings) are still a matter of controversy amongst the experts, it may be therefore relevant here to mention an interesting resource on the web, where Frank J. Seinstra has compiled a detailed classification of the opinions of the experts, from past to present concerning the categorization of paintings attributed to the master, his school or some third party. Interested readers may check it out at: A Web Catalogue of Rembrandt Paintings.2 and after a glimpse of the varying, sometimes controversial opinions of the experts, may be better able to form their own opinions. And for readers more interested in Rembrandts graphic works, there is a very recommendable web resource worth mentioning here, concerning Rembrandts graphical legacy at: Windsor. Fine Art

For a deeper insight into the graphical technology of Rembrandt I am indebted to Jan Boomers, under whose supervision I attended a workshop in Berlin.

Mushtaq Bhat
June 2007

  1. The Rembrandtian Epoch >>
  2. Rembrandt & The Netherlands >>
  3. The Rembrandtian Credo _ With & Without Stove >>
  4. Rembrandt The Man >>
Digital Manipulated Photoreproduction of the artwork: An Artist in his Studio by Rembrandt. Digital Manipulated Photoreproduction of the artwork:
An Artist in his Studio
by Rembrandt.
Main Sources
Rembrandt: Dargestellt von Christian Tümpel; Rowohlts Velag GmbH. 1977.
URL1 website Rembrandt from Jonathan Jansen.
2This link added on 06.02. 2008.
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Studio Logo after Rembrandt
Rembrandt: Saskia. Drawing(detail)

Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.