Rembrandt and His Time: Masterworks from the Albertina

Marian Bisanz-Prakken, Author . Hudson Hills $60 (254p) ISBN 978-1-55595-257-0

In a world already crowded with Rembrandt books, this one more than justifies its existence with an imaginative focus on the artist's drawings and prints in the context of other Dutch draftsmen and printmakers. Published in conjunction with a 2006 exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum to mark the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt's birth, the book offers a side-by-side comparison of Rembrandt with his contemporaries that allows his distinctive style to be seen more clearly than ever. The way Rembrandt represented space receding into the background, for instance, with a radically economic use of line that appears improvised on the spot, is unmatched by any other artist on display here. Not that the others are exactly slouches. Aelbert Cuyp, 14 years Rembrandt's junior, displays deep reservoirs of sensitivity and humor in drawings like Reclining Dog , which masterfully captures the animal's finely muscled back and quizzical expression. Bristling with footnotes and filled with art jargon (repoussoir , anyone?), the text by Albertina curator Bisanz-Prakken is engaging, if only because her commentary is pegged to specific images, usually displayed on facing pages. This is an accessible if scholarly look at 17th-century Dutch art and a great introduction to Rembrandt the genius draftsman. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 11/07/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
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