eIt's true, in the end it was not that smooth anymore. Increasing sales difficulties. The painter had gradually gone out of fashion. Paris, which always set the tone, threw its classicism on the market. So they dressed in the last third of the 17th century at the European courts again antique.

And Rembrandt? Was not it this Dutchman who took great pleasure in the bloody portrait of a gutted ox? The taste of the times, the once famous realism now seemed a bit plebeian. See only the naked "Danae" on the bobbel belly. Unthinkable that the exacting Zeus may have fallen for such an average mortal. Seasonal wet marshes. Andries Pels, an up-and-coming theatrical poet, has even narrated an insulting poem to the "pictor vulgaris" (the "painter of the people"), who knew no rules and did not leave anything in the regular human body.

Rembrandt and the modern age

Eben default. Whenever feeling and thought languish at the lost standards of the supposedly scale-proof ancestors and they want to beautify beauty out of strict laws again, one, like Rembrandt, must appear out of place. From the very uneven modernity, he was always and remains the greatest.

What is it that still fascinates us? No other artist has had to put up with so much scientific insight in the last few decades – and has survived it so well. With the relentless eye of the garbage collector, the so-called "Rembrandt Research Project", an interdisciplinary consortium of scientists active since 1968, has checked the authenticity of all objects of worship and did not even accept the "man with the gold helmet", the former pride of the Berlin Gemäldegalerie. If you leaf through the six heavyweight volumes "A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings", you'll be healed by the legends once and for all.

I. Black

But who already does that? Hundreds and thousands of people make their pilgrimage to Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, patiently waiting for a glimpse of the famous "Night Watch", which is being scanned behind bulletproof glass, making no difference. Go, if possible, the few steps to the "Staalmeesters", the notables of the drapery guild, which together as in the group photo, the heads together. Or look at the Mauritshuis in The Hague the "Dr. Nicolaes Tulp "at the" Anatomical Lecture ".

2-M140-A3-1662-C (1899207) Rembrandt, The Staalmeesters Rembrandt, Harmensz van Rijn; 1606-1669. 'The Staalmeesters' (The Syndici of the Cloth Merchants), 1662. (From left to right: Jacob van Loon, Volckert Jansz., Willem van Doeyen- burg, Jochem de Neve, Aernout van der Mye and Frans Hendricksz. Bel, Amtsdiener, in the background) , Oil on canvas, 191.5 x 279 cm. Loan from the city of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum. |

To admire in Amsterdam: The Staalmeesters (The Syndici of cloth traders), 1662

Source: picture alliance / akg-images

And when you're there, you do not quite understand the quiet emphasis, that unflagging Rembrandt fidelity. Actually, not much more than precious darkness is promised. Always this night black, in which the collar of the clothiers seem like white cemetery flowers. Where did all the bright colors remain, with which the Renaissance painters of the modern era opened their eyes? Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – could you imagine Rembrandt there? It would be pitch black in the noble room.

II. See

Maybe the Rembrandt black is not only the shady film of a Dutch century, which is often described as golden and sparkles the more elegant, the darker clothes, hats, pictures are. The subtle question, at which the master brains of the 18th century will despair, and whether the visible world is independent of our cognition, has long been anticipated in Rembrandt's painting.

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Keith Haring

In any case, the painter paints in such a way that without our visual intervention of light and shadow would not be a picture. And without our visual intervention from the sensuality of the non-material light and the sensuality of the immaterial Dämmers no drama of the acting and not acting figures developed.

III. movie theater

Once again "night watch". Is not she a bit strange, the incessant mass devotion to the strange parade of able-bodied men? The huge picture is nothing more than a well-painted example from the then popular genre of Dutch rifle guilds. Everyone is known, who is pictured here. What could be so exciting about the group portrait?

Maybe that in fact it is not a group portrait, but a scene of departure. At the moment when the Lords of the vigilantes disappear from the darkness, begins a still unknown film. No one before Rembrandt has made films. Charging the picture counting with stored kinetic energy – that is new. And objective modernity will take as little measure as the head cinema which Rembrandt has founded with his psychologically visionary means.

That's probably why you can not get enough of the prophet Jeremiah. Hardly a second time has his grief over the destruction of Jerusalem been such an irresistible trigger for images that have flooded inside. A movement drama in the purest sense of the word. No longer have painting and soul art been at eye level. And never again have so intimate pictorial signs been found for the experience unit of divine dispute and world farewell as in 1630.

Bathers wife Rembrandt

Wonderful Pleasure: Rembrandt's "Bathers" hangs in the London National Gallery

Source: National Gallery London

Or Rembrandt's "Bathers" at the National Gallery in London. Always been there again and never knew if she had just got into the water, or if it would be more correct to say she was just going into the water. What is she doing? She holds her only piece of clothing up and looks with a visible mood in the water level image, what is hidden from us. You have to be born as an art historian in order to discover "the most powerful erotic excess of the master" (Richard M. Eisler). Excessive is nothing at this wonderful self-pleasure. But exemplary it is completely. And modern-making even more.

IV. Himself

Portrait was always appearance. Dignity and rank card. Presumably the story of self-confidence would have been so triumphantly impossible without the pictorial sensualization. And if it were usually also distant statues praised on the wall, then it was still readable in the image mirror a little request to optimize their own personal balance sheet.

Rembrandt also served the grandiose genre. "Portrait of a 40 year old man", "Portrait of a 39 years old woman", "Portrait of a man with arms in the side", "Portrait of a young woman with lap dog". The bourgeoisie as a wealthy class. No count, no countess in the squad. And all with white collars on night black background. This is noble painting, but it is not exciting. Otherwise the self-portraits. There something revolutionary begins. Because self-portrait is called by Rembrandt Selbstbegegnung.

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Leonardo. All paintings and drawings Frank Zöllner, Johannes Nathan Hardcover, 21 x 26 cm, 704 pages € 40 This 500th Anniversary Anniversary Edition is the most comprehensive book ever to have appeared on the millennium and includes all the paintings and nearly 700 drawings , In full-page detail enlargements, the reader can study the finest nuances of brushstrokes. The book takes into account all the latest scientific findings and tells the story behind Salvator Mundi, whose auction reached a record amount of around 400 million euros

No other painter has watched himself so incessantly as Rembrandt. No other painter has recorded so incorruptibly what he has seen. Pride, amazement, doubt, contentment, serenity, restlessness, grimacing horror. In the late work, which was written between 1656 and 1669, the self-portrait became a completely dominant theme.

With insatiable curiosity, the now over fifty-year-old meets on the canvas or the drawing sheet, and from the fine traces of aging and aging, he gains a singular, picturesque culture. These were Rembrandt's self-portraits, not the heroic subjects of the early days, for which the kings of England and France and the German Emperor were interested.

V. Violence

Maybe once again to the Städel in Frankfurt to Rembrandt's Schauer painting "Blinding of the Simson". Could you explain to the kids what's going on? One would choke on one's own words. How the armed Philistines attack the defenseless powerhouse, and the darkest of all targets their eyes with a lance and is only a few centimeters away from them – you paint something just because there is someone who has ordered and pays for it ?

Rembrandt, Harmensz van Rijn. 1606 1669. Slaughtered ox, around 1655. Oil on panel, 73.5 52 cm. Glasgow, Art Gallery and Museum. |

Naked Violence: Butchered Ox, around 1655

Source: picture alliance / akg-images / Andre Held

Does such brutality succeed without curiosity in the reality of life called violence? The picture is tougher than anything Quentin Tarantino ever shot. The writer Elias Canetti has said that before the picture he has learned what hatred is.

VI. market

What is still surprising is the lack of bridges in the factory. Today he paints Susanna in the bath or the repentant Judas, as he brings back the silver pieces, one will see. Tomorrow is an old people scene from the apocryphal "Book Tobit" provided. Then a crucifixion as a nighttime chill piece. Then an etching with sailboats. And if everything seems very intimate and peaceful, then the ox is gutted. When Prince Hendrik orders a Passions series, he gets them. If the esteemed ladies and gentlemen of Amsterdam wish a picture of their worth, please, no problem.

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Vermeer's most famous painting

But with customer requests alone, the all-round service is not adequately explained. Rembrandt does not paint in the first place, whatever you need for whatever purpose, he awakens needs in a very modern market sense. He invents topics that are copied very quickly.

"Young woman in bed". Of course, we suspect why she straightens up, for whom she recoils the curtain, and yet everything remains in the undisclosed intimacy of the night. A cabinet piece is not that. And although it may not have resented the spoiled audience, so it was without iconographic origin and could only be compared with the daring images in the head. And that has remained so today. Rembrandt is ours.

This text is from the WORLD ON SUNDAY. We are happy to deliver you home regularly.


Painting (t) Art History (t) Painting (t) Portraiture (t) Rembrandt (t) (Painter) (t) Sex (t) Elias Canetti (t) Paris (t) Violence (t) Amsterdam Rijksmuseum ( t) Fashion


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