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Rembrandt Author(s): Josef Israëls Reviewed work(s): Source: The Collector and Art Critic, Vol. 4, No. 12 (Oct., 1906), pp. 336-340 Published by: Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25435757 . Accessed: 28/11/2011 02:24 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wi
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  RembrandtAuthor(s): Josef IsraëlsReviewed work(s):Source: The Collector and Art Critic, Vol. 4, No. 12 (Oct., 1906), pp. 336-340Published by:Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25435757. Accessed: 28/11/2011 02:24 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jspJSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.http://www.jstor.org  336THE COLLECTORANDARTCRITIC.REMBRANDT. BY JOSEFISRAELS. REMBRANDT Totheabundanceofliterature,atpresentpiledupunderthe above title,I-maybeallowedto contributethis offeringinhonorofthegreatmaster.Itis overfiftyyearsagowhen,asanartstudent,Ijourneyedto Amsterdamtoplacemyselfunderthe instructionofKruseman,then averyrenownedportraitpainter.Soon Iwasadmittedtohisstudioandadmiredgreatlythe portraitsofprominentAmsterdampeoplewhich hewaspainting.Thepinkishcolorofthefaces,andthefine executionofthegarments,sometimesagainsta backgroundofdark redvelvet,interestedme greatly. When,however,Iexpresseda desiretocopysomeoftheseportraits,Iwasnotallowedtodothis- no, was themaster'sreply, ifyouwantto copy,go totheTrippenhuis. *Ididnotdaretoexpressmydisappointment.Justarrivedfromtheprovinces,theoldmasterswere stillhiddentome.I couldnotdiscoverthebeautyofthoseoldscenesanddarkcanvasesaboutwhichpeopleraved.ImuchpreferredtheexhibitionsinArti,andIadmiredespeciallyPieneman,Gallait,CalameandKoekoek.ItwasnotbecauseIwassoverymuchbehindothers,butIlackedthestudyandpracticewhichareindispensableto understandtheunusualandhighlyartisticqualitiesoftheDutchMasters.Icontendthatnomatterhowculturedonemaybe,hewillnotbeableto enjoythosegrandoldmenwithoutlongandfrequentstudy.Artappreciationmustbetrainedtoenterthorolyintothecharacteranddepthoftheseart expressions.IttookalongtimebeforeIhadthecouragetoenter thatSanctumwithpaintandbrushes.ButalightappearedtomeafterI hadbeen paintingforsome timefrom nature,indoorsandoutinthecountry,andhadmademanystudiesfromthe*nudeandmanymorestillives.I commencedtounderstandthattheaim shouldnotbethepleasinglysofthandlinginthepainting,butthatIhadtopaymostattentiontotherelievoofobjects,therelationofthefigurestochiaroscuro,theiractionandmovement.Withthis pointofviewIwent withfargreaterpleasuretotheTrippenhuis,and graduallyI discoveredthebeautyandwealthofexpressionintheseoldmasters.Notknowingmuchoftechnique,I triedat firsttocopyalittle Hermit byGerardDou,inwhichI wasnot verysuccessful.ThenI triedaheadbyVanderHelst,whichwentbetter.AtlastI stoodbeforeoneoftheheadsof the Syndics -theonein theleftcornerwiththepointedhatonhisgrayhaircaptivatedme.*The Trippenhuis wasamuseumontheKloveniersburgwalinAmsterdam,whereaprivatecollectionwas housedthathadbeenlefttotheState.WhentheRyksmuseumwascompleted,sometwentyyears ago,thiscollectionlandothercollections,astheVanderHoop,werebroughttothenew buiilding.  THECOLLECTOR AND ART CRITIC. 337 Thus I tried fromvarious artists tocatch their colorscheme and tech nique, until thebeauties of the Nightwatch and the Syndics over poweredme to that extentthat nothingattracted me except whathadcome from the handof the greatmaster, the onlyRembrandt.SomethingIsawin his work that I couldnot see in anyother-his freedomand exuberance,which were soprecious to me, butwere not tolerated atthe Academy or theteacher's studio. Andeven tho FransHalsimpressed memost for his brushhandling-it wasRembrandt whoadded thereto hiscolor and lighteffects, and who stoodfirst. Forquite a whileI had beenstudying Rembrandt'spaintings from every pointofview,when one day Iwandered downstairsin the museum tothe so-calledprint room.Here were keptRembrandt'setchings inexcellentstates. Itwas anattractive room having aview on a garden;a long, green clothcovered table wasthere to spread out theportfolios containingthose treasures.AndthereI sat,often and long,engrossed in these twohundredandforty art works, andthe curator didnot cease urging meto becareful whenIwould bemixing these sheets tocompare them onewith the other. HowsurprisedIwas to find theartist,whoupstairs hadwrought inoiltheglorious Nightwatch andthe broad Syndics -to find him hereasanengraver parexcellence, not onlyendowed with the forceandbreadthofafirst-classbrushhandler, but alsothorolyathomeinwhat ever theneedle could accomplishonthehard,shining copper. Butthese etchings didnotalone impress meso much because oftheirextraordinary dexterity-Iwasespeciallycharmed bytheingenuityof thecompositions,thewonderful light effects, andthe nalve, childlike actionswherewith he endowed hisfigures.So wonderful, srcinal and so exactinexpression were these scenes,thatotherprints, no matterhowclever,stilllookedacademicand puerile bycomparison.Therewereexcellentportraits,rarelybeautifulhead,nowofhimself,thenagainof hisfriends.Butwhenonehas seen the little portraitofhismother, oneshouldclosetheportfolioamoment . . . .andwipehiseyes.Nothing more beautifulcanbefoundthan thedeep feelingof thisengraving.Themotherly gentleness,the tendernessandthoughtfulnessof the dearlittlewomanareineveryline, everyscratch.of the needle.Theyallmeansomething,not atouchcould beleftout.Andyet there wasa thirdexpressionof Rembrandt'stalent-hisdrawings. Thesedrawingswerehighly problematical,andyetencouragingtoayoungartistwhowaslookingformeanstoexpresshimself.Theywerelesscomprehensiblyclear than hisetchings,and itwas sometimebeforetheysatisfiedme,butIunderstood-whatI stillthinktobe thecasethat themaster neverintendedto have thesedrawings neatlyframedandexhibited.ThenIcaughttheirmeaning.Theyweremostlysoul-expressionstoaidhisrichlyimaginativemind.Thoughtlesslythrownonthepapertheywere-yet,withahandthatcreatedmasterpieceswitheveryinspiration,everysentiment.Superficiallyexamined, theyarespoiledbyall kindsofinkstainsandhard,thicklines,whichcrosseachotherwildlyandstrangely.Butwhenyoucometolookcarefully,itis all wellthought out,afeelingforlightandbrown,thecompositionsarebig,fullofacting figures, buildings,landscapes-everythinghasaninsistentpictorialsentiment. II. Andhow doInowthinkofthemaster,aftersomanvdecadeshavepassedaway?  338THECOLLECTORANDARTCRITIC. Comewithme andviewthegreatestexpressionofRembrandt'sart,whichhehasgivenus in his Nightwatch. *At thefirstglancewe areatoncestruckbythe broad movementsofshadowsandlightwhich,likecolor-sounds,sing thruthe enormouscan vas. Then,at once,twomen cometo you,as theystepout of thegroup.One isentirelydark,theotherdressedinalightcostume.That isRembrandt!unabashedto contrastsharp light againstthe black.Andtoharmonizethiscontrastofbig lines, lightagainstdark,he inventstoextendthe leftarm ofthedarkmanas ifwithagestureheseekstoarguesomething,andso hethrowsabigsunnyhalfshadowon hiswhitecomrade.Geniusknowshowtohelp itself,wherecommonpeoplewouldbe ataloss.Thesetwomenareapparentlyinconversation,thatisplainlytobeseen,theyaretheleadersof theband.Therehestood,the greatmaster, whenallwasput onthecanvasthatshouldbethere-andthenhe shookhishead.Inhis opinionthesetwomen didnotcomequitefarenoughintheforeground.Sohetookagainhisbigpaletteanddippedhisbroadestbrushesoncemoredeepinthe pigmentandthesetwoforemostfigureswereoncemore takeninhandwithmightystrokes;heremoredepth,theremore light,and so hetriedeverythingtogiveastillmorecleverreliefto thatwhich he wantedtobringout.Then hesawthatitwasgood,andsoheletthemstand.Mayhapthelikenessof thegentlementhat hadgiventhecommissionwasnot quiteexact,or hemighthave heardalreadycomplaintsaboutalackofpainstakingparticularizing-whatdidhe care?the principalobjectforhim wasthat therewaslife in itandthesemenmoved.And look,howhesucceeded. Fromtheplumeson theirhatsto thesoles of theirshoes,whichalmosttouch theframe-itis allasifyoucangraspthem.How fullofenergyandcharacterarethose heads,theclothesaremouldedtothebodies,thesteelneckguard,thesash,thebootsofthe whiteman-theyall havemarvelous painter'squality.Thentheblackone,withtheredbandoleer,withthe gloveandthecane-itisacombinationwhichdoesnot strikeyou,becauseit is so true,so simple,so natural.I knowofnorepresentationwhichshowsstrongerthe abandonandpicturesquenessof thosetimesthanthesetwo men, passingalongonthis enormouscanvas.Thenweturntotherighthandsideofthepaintingto observethisperspiringdrummer.Hisapparentlypock-markedface undertheshadowofaworn-outhatisatrue Falstaff figure;his thick,bibulousnose,hisfatlips-everythingabouthimisatrue artist'sbravura,thatbespeaksthemaster'sdaring.Look,howhe isdrummingaway,as if hewantstoannouncethathe isone ofthemostmagnificentcreationsofthefamous artist, calledRembrandt. Ican understandthat,seeingthis manas hesails along,thenarrow.dilettanteandpunctiliouscriticGerardde Lairesseexclaimsinhis bigbookonart: With Rembrandtthe pigmentrunslikedirtoverthe frame. Snobberyandgeniuswillalwaysbeat odds.Butweturnnowoncemoretotheleftof the scene. Look,therestandstheclever arquebusier,entirelydressedinred.Rembrandtwithhistalentfor chiaroscuro,wasnotafraidtopresentsomeoneentirelyinred,forheknewthattheplayoflightand shade wouldhelp.Theredis,therefore,herepartlyinashadowof deliciousnuancesandcombinesexquisitelywiththegray-greentonesof the otherfigures.Thisred-man *Forareproductionofthe Nightwatch, seetheSeptembernutmber.
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