This is one of those posts that exemplifies the axiom that when you click on my blog, you never know what you are going to get. Not all of you will care about this – and that is OK. I won’t judge, because I’m better than that.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is a ridiculously long way to say “Rembrandt.” We all know about him. At the risk of this sounding like your Intro to Art 101 class, here is a quick refresher:
Dutch (Netherlands) • 1606-69 • Painting, etchings, etc. • Dutch Golden Era
When I go to the Met in NYC, I head straight for his paintings. Something about them fascinates me. The detail, the life-like quality, the use of lighting and shadow, blah, blah, blah. Someday, I hope to check out the Rembrandt Museum in Amsterdam. (Bucket list.)
What I have noticed over the years is that Rembrandt spent a lot of time thinking about, and creating, art that represented the life of Christ – especially the birth of Christ – the nativity, and associated events. He realized them in many different styles and methods.
So, I dug around and found some examples. You might not like them all, but you might like some, and I guarantee you will love one or two.
Here they are – if you click on the pic, it will take you to an offsite link to a much larger version. I highly recommend it.
And we’re off. First, we will see an etching entitled “The Nativity,” (1654). For those who don’t know what an etching is, think of “scratch art” where you scratch the black wax off, and reveal the colors underneath. Instead, this was done over metal, then acid is poured over it to eat the metal – leaving behind the ridges the artist wanted protected. The metal sheet then becomes the printing plate, where ink is applied, then pressed to paper. Easy peavey. Not. If this were just a sketch, it would be OK, but an etching is like an inverted sketch, so it’s crazy hard, because you are drawing the parts you don’t see.
Etchings might not be your cup o’ tea, but I can assure you that Mormon and Moroni would have thought they were the coolest thing ever – and would have resulted in having pictures in the Book of Mormon.
Here’s another one called “Flight Into Egypt,” (1654). Yes, I know that technically it isn’t a nativity piece. Oh well.
One last etching from 1684: “The Virgin and Child With Cat and Snake.” Snake? Look under Mary’s foot for some nice symbolism.
Did I say no more etchings? Oops – one – scratch that – 2 more. But this next one is different – it’s process is called “mezzotint engraving” in which the artists would rough up the plate so that less ink would adhere – which permitted half-tones and grayscale. Here is a groovy example. I don’t know the title or the year. (This one definitely deserves a zoom.)
Look really close: This is NOT the same piece – almost, but different, and using the earlier etching technique. You can see more detail.
Now for some paintings. (That’s where old Rembrandt was a master of shadows and light.)
First: “Adoration of the Shepherds,” (1646). You can see this in the National Gallery in London. (There is some relatively new information that leads experts to believe that this next one was actually painted by someone other than Rembrandt – possibly one of his students. Here is a cool video that talks about it how they figured it out. Click Here.)
Here is “Adoration of the Magi,” (1632). Ridiculous detail. Awesome enlargement.
“Simon With Jesus.” (1669)
“The Rest on the Flight to Egypt,” (1647)
And lastly, my favorite:
Adoration of the Shepherds Painted in 1646, there are others attributed to Rembrandt and some of his students, but this is my favorite. I love how dark it is, with the main source of light emanating from the Holy Infant Jesus.
Thanks to Marsha for the link to a terrific enlargement HERE.
There you go. Now we have as much culture as a tub of Noosa. Merry Christmas!