Rembrandt exhibition in London

This video from Britain says about itself:

Rembrandt: The Late Works | The National Gallery, London

7 October 2014

Curator Betsy Wieseman previews our autumn exhibition, ‘Rembrandt: The Late Works’ (15 October 2014 – 18 January 2015).

Rembrandt’s later years were turbulent and marked with controversy, but they also produced some of his most soulful, deeply moving and strikingly modern works.

The exhibition, organised in collaboration with Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, offers you an opportunity to experience the passion, emotion and innovation of the great master.

To find out more visit here.

By Christine Lindey in England:

Rembrandt: Genius in maturity

Saturday 3rd January 2015

CHRISTINE LINDEY recommends an exhibition of the artist’s late works

REMBRANDT (1606-1669) was born to a miller and his wife in the recently formed Dutch republic, when portraits and history paintings were bought or commissioned by free-thinking merchants along with professionals and their civic institutions, rather than by Spanish colonial aristocrats.

As medieval patronage was replaced by a thriving but volatile art market, artists were now “free” to succeed or go bankrupt. Rembrandt did both because as markets ruled, so fashions changed. Having become one of Holland’s most successful artists in his 30s, he became plagued by personal and financial problems from his 50s until his death.

Many prints and drawings from this late period are on show at the National Gallery’s exhibition, which includes 40 of his major paintings.

It begins with his late self-portraits, which sum up the multi-layered feelings of one who has experienced much.

An aged man with sagging, wrinkled flesh engages our gaze with expressions of sorrow, exasperation, bafflement and accusatory self-criticism, tempered by an avuncular toleration of human frailty and folly.

Refusing to flatter himself — or the rising bourgeoisie who commissioned portraits of themselves — Rembrandt conveyed the complexities and varieties of human character, psychology and social status with such humane understanding that the portraits convey universal truths.

Rembrandt, Lucretia

Like his portraits, his late history paintings are composed with utmost simplicity. One of the most moving is Lucretia of 1666. A Roman noblewoman who was blackmailed into being raped, Lucretia killed herself rather than bring shame on her family’s honour.

No fussy background details distract from the centrally placed young woman, who dominates the composition. High tonal contrast creates maximum drama as light illuminates Lucretia’s pallid face, white shift and golden cloak which emerge from the deep surrounding darkness.

Only the small dagger which she holds and the understated blood stains below her heart on her shift tell of her desperate act. The tales’s emotional, moral and psychological meanings are narrated by her resigned posture and the expressions of regret, sorrow and pain on her face.

No reproduction does justice to the emotional effect created by the variety of surface textures in Rembrandt’s paintings. Brushing in the dark areas with broad, flat swishes of thinly diluted paint, he built up the light areas with layers of thick swirls, dashes and dabs of creams, whites and golds.

The liveliness of these complex brushstrokes appear abstract when seen close up, yet merge magically to represent metals, lace, cloth or skin when seen from a distance.

His prints and drawings show a similar sensuous enjoyment of materials and sensitivity to their intrinsic potential. His quick informal sketches of everyday life capture the essence of his subjects with economy, as in A Young Woman Sleeping, where Rembrandt expresses the spirit of youth and of sleep while also delighting in doing so with a few elegant sweeps of an ink-loaded brush.

Rembrandt, Sleeping girl

In his etchings, which include some of his most powerful religious works, he exploited the rich range of tones and marks offered by this complex medium. Christ Preaching brings to life Christ’s respect for all social classes by surrounding him with the myriad of different people Rembrandt observed on the streets of Amsterdam.

Three-and-a-half centuries later, why should we be interested in — let alone be amazed by — portraits of unknown merchants or by obscure mythological or biblical stories of which many of us are equally ignorant?

Precisely because Rembrandt’s works transcend their era, conveying a profound understanding of humanity and an unflinching ability to face the unvarnished realities of life.

Coupled with acute observation of the visible world and breathtakingly inventive technical skills, this made him one of art’s greatest humanist realists.

Curated in conjunction with Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, the exhibition gathers an amazing array of Rembrandt’s greatest late works worldwide, so providing a once in a lifetime opportunity to see them together.

But cramming these masterpieces into the National Gallery’s poky and dungeon-like temporary exhibitions galleries does them a disservice, a mistake compounded by charging a rapacious £18 entrance fee and then allowing far too many people in at a time, despite timed ticketing which should surely regulate entry in acceptable numbers.

To get to see each work the public is forced to negotiate its way through an unpleasant crush like that in rush-hour Tube trains. Rather than being able to engage with the masterpieces in calm contemplation, experiencing them becomes an ordeal to be endured.

It is tragic that increasing philistine marketisation of public services and culture should lead to such impoverished conditions of display for some of the world’s greatest art.

Unfortunately the future looks bleak. The National Gallery has outsourced the guarding of this exhibition to a private security firm, a first move in its plans for imminent greater privatisation which the permanent staff’s union, the PCS, vigorously opposes.

Rembrandt: The Late Works runs at the National Gallery until January 18, box office:

This exhibition will move to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (February 12 2015 to May 17 2015).

9 thoughts on “Rembrandt exhibition in London

  1. This is a lovely video. I am very fond of Rembrandt and have kept the Sleeping Girl in my office since 1970. When people ask me why, I tell them that I can see a hidden part of myself and all other women in this drawing. I got my copy of the Sleeping Girl when I visited Rembrandt’s home. Thank you.


  2. Early 60s, 1960/64 when as a full time fine arts student the Tate Gallery you could wander with few people attended this gallery, as for Kenwood house, housing one of Rembrands masterpieces, a self portrait, no one would be in this house in 1960s other than security.


  3. Pingback: Van Gogh museum on animals and art | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: London National Gallery, don’t privatise it | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  6. Pingback: Rembrandt exhibition in Amsterdam, and also online | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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