Young Rembrandt: A Biography

Onno Blom, trans. from the Dutch by Beverley Jackson. Norton, $30 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-53179-4
Art critic Blom (The Scar of Death) employs Rembrandt’s early works and the history of his hometown of Leiden, Netherlands, to trace the Dutch painter’s artistic evolution from student to legendary master in this thoughtful, illuminating work. Filled with illustrations of Rembrandt’s early etchings, sketches, and paintings, the book examines the artist through his surroundings, with the author, also from Leiden, stating, “I built my sentences from the stones of my city.” Self-assured and determined, young Rembrandt (1606–1669) combined the three-stage process of “translation, imitation and emulation” in studying and interpreting others’ works before creating more accomplished paintings of his own. Rembrandt studied Latin and classic art in school and at Leiden University; observed Leiden’s religious battles and foreign travelers, apprenticed with respected painters including Jacob van Swanenburg and Pieter Lastman; and shared a studio and competed with fellow painter Jan Lievens. Once established on his own, Rembrandt attracted the attention of influential patrons like Constantin Huygens and devised elaborate etchings filled with images of himself—or historic “selfies” (as seen in The Laughing Man)—that helped establish his reputation as a creator of intimate and emotionally naked works (Andromeda) and led to his renown with history paintings (The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq, more commonly known as The Night Watch). This portrait will delight both casual art fans and connoisseurs alike. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 05/18/2020
Release date: 09/08/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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