Monday, July 8, 2013

Dutch Baroque (pt. 4)

Now we come to Rembrandt.  Rembrandt van Rijn was an enormously successful Dutch painter who specialized in the study of light, shadow, and atmosphere.  He produced a wealth of paintings conducive to a study of the artist's lifelong development into style.  Throughout his entire career, Rembrandt painted portraits of himself as he grew older and more accomplished.  His self-portraits total around 40 paintings and almost as many etchings.
For most of the period of Rembrandt's career in major artistic development his works specialized in the study of light, shadow, and atmosphere.  In this famous painting, titled The Night Watch, a small group of volunteers from the town militia are painted as royal military heroes and aristocrats of only the highest noble rank.  The light falls on certain figures in the middle of the painting but is generally scattered abroad in random rays.  Some figures are plainly visible while others are in shadow.
This painting was produced in 1642, during the period when the artist had peaked as one of the most successful and most sought-after portraitists of his time.  And apart from the biblical and historical paintings that has since earned him the high-class reputation associated with Rembrandt in modern times, in his own day this was what he was most widely known for: portraits.

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