HOW REMBRANDT REVEALS YOUR BEAUTIFUL, IMPERFECT SELF: Life Lessons from the Master

Roger Housden, Author . Harmony $20 (239p) ISBN 978-1-4000-8229-2

More than any other artist in history, Rembrandt bears witness to the "eternal joy and struggle of our own human soul and to the poignant bittersweet reality of our physical mortality," Housden (Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime, etc.) writes in his accessible meditative guide to the artist's life, work and meaning for our times. Recollecting how he was profoundly moved by Rembrandt's Self Portrait, 1669, Housden marvels at the artist's ability to face himself with intense truthfulness and acceptance. Housden charts the Dutch master's rise as a successful painter winning lucrative commissions, as well as his tragic domestic life, sexual scandal, fall from professional grace and poverty-stricken old age. Above all, Housden admires Rembrandt's dedication to observation—his "long, slow look"—which, he points out, is so unlike our own age's emphasis on rapid action, immediacy and clarity. Although Housden occasionally quotes art historian Simon Schama, his account is largely unmediated by experts, consisting instead of his own firsthand descriptions of Rembrandt's paintings, complete with historical background and insights into 17th-century Protestant values. Housden's reflections and observations (like his title—too reminiscent of How Proust Can Change Your Life ) are far from original or penetrating, but he fully succeeds in communicating the artist's enduring appeal. 28 b&w photos. (On sale Apr. 26)

Reviewed on: 03/14/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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