ARTH 4606/6606 Rembrandt Flesh Paint Performance
Rembrandt was typical and exceptional in seventeenth-century Holland: typical because subject to the same market forces as others, and exceptional because he flouted that market, alienated patrons, innovating at every step. Both highly regarded and greatly reviled in his time, modern scholars have understood Rembrandt’s work variously, saying that “every generation creates its own Rembrandt.” We will attempt to determine what Rembrandt is ours.
Rembrandt produced prodigious numbers of paintings and prints, pupils and debts. Never having traveled, his studio was the theater where he staged the world. In paintings of religious and mythological subjects, he experimented in paint as a palpable material. In painting portraits and nudes he transfigured paint into textile, gold, and famously, flesh. His work in etching revolutionized that medium. We’ll examine Rembrandt’s style, studio practice, and questions of authenticity (including the consequential results of the Rembrandt Research Project), also focusing on technical and art historical aspects of works in the Johnson Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Frick.