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Rembrandt Essays

The artist I found to be interesting from the Baroque period is the Dutch artist Rembrandt Van Rijn . Rembrandt was born in 1606 in the city of Lieden and died in 1669 Amsterdam (Cunningham, 2005, 183). One of the interesting things about Rembrandt which sets him apart from the other great artists of his time is his many self-portraits.
It is said that no other artists had made such a frequent self-presentation in his works as Rembrandt did. It is estimated that he had produced about “forty to fifty paintings, around thirty-two etchings, and seven drawings” of himself (Osmond 2000). Although self-portrait is not unusual for an artist to do, the numerous amount of self depiction in his works sets him apart from them all. Art scholars had wondered the real reason why Rembrandt did this. Many had commented that this is an expression of vanity. Many art scholars, however,  had offered a more in-depth interpretation stating that his self-portraits are  not merely an expression of unusual self-interest but  in fact, judging form his   portrait of later years , a depiction of his journey to self-understanding. Yet earlier studies of his self-portraits and the culture of his period also suggest that his portraits are tronies (face) showing different human expressions using his face as a model.  Rembrandt may have been taking an advantage to make himself known to the buyers of    artists (Osmond 2000; Cunningham, 2005, 184).
Rembrandt created the dramatic and emotional effect in all of his paintings through “chiaroscuro”, the use of   contrast between light and darkness.  He also makes use of light to impart depth on his paintings and etchings. This technique (depth of emotion and dark shadows) may be adapted from Caravaggio, an Italian painter. However, Rembrandt’s own unrivaled technique in producing richness of color and texture is to build up layers of paint, a technique perhaps aided by his “secret ingredient” (Cunningham 184; Van de Watering 6).

Self Portrait with a Cap, openmouthed
Etching and burin, 1630
(Photo from artrenewal.org)


Cunningham, Lawrence and John J. (2005).  Reich. Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities. Belmont, California: Thomson Wadsworth.
Free  Images. Art Renewal Organization.  Retrieved December 6, 2008
            from http://www.peaceloveandhappiness.org/?q=taxonomy/term/3
Osmond, Susan Fegley. Rembrandt van Rijn: Selected Self-Portraits. T H E  A R T S. January, 2000. Retrieved December 6, 2008 from http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/             rembrandt_self_portraits.htm#about
Van de Wetering, Ernst. (2000).   Rembrandt: The Painter at Work. Berkeley: University of California Press.


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