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Rembrandt: The Painter at Work by Ernst van…
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Rembrandt: The Painter at Work

by Ernst van de Wetering

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781242,039 (4.67)None
Rembrandt's intriguing painting technique has stirred the imagination of art lovers during his lifetime and ever since. In this book, Rembrandt's pictorial intentions and the variety of materials and techniques he applied to create his fascinating effects are unraveled in depth. At the same time, this "archaeology"of Rembrandt's paintings yields information on many other levels. In art-historical research, the work of art as a material object is used increasingly as an important source of information about the painting itself, as well as about historic studio practice in general. The range from practical workshop devices to aesthetic and art-theoretical matters combined in this book offers a view of Rembrandt's daily practice and artistic considerations, while simultaneously providing a more three-dimensional image of the historical artist.… (more)

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This review was also published, in a slightly enhanced & more comfortable format, at my blog between drafts.

Written by Ernst van de Wetering, chairman of the Rembrandt Research Project, this book is an awesome scientific journey into Rembrandt the man, his workshop, and the painting techniques of his time. Lovingly detailed, the book provides amazing perspectives with which to meet Rembrandt’s paintings and drawings, and also those of his students. Maybe it’s precisely because van de Wetering is considered to be the foremost Rembrandt researcher of our time, he’s anything but dogmatic when it comes to authenticity; the “workshop approach” not only allows, but actively encourages, the appreciation of those paintings that turn out to be not from Rembrandt’s own hand, or only partly so.

If you’re a science buff (humanist, social, or natural sciences, no matter), this book is for you. It doesn’t “explain” the paintings, but it doesn’t have to: by the end of the book, you’ll know so much about Rembrandt’s paintings that they pretty much explain themselves, within the parameters of what we know or at least can plausibly assume about Rembrandt’s time. After having read The Painter at Work, the next Rembrandt exhibition we went to became a revelation (which, incidentally, was the terrific “Rembrandt Trilogy” 400th Birthday Exhibition, 2006, in Berlin). Also, the paper quality and the quality of the prints and illustrations in this book is astonishing—in both the hardcover edition I borrowed from the library and the paperback edition I subsequently acquired.
  gyokusai | Jan 29, 2008 |
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