Rembrandt Author(s): Josef Israëls Reviewed work(s): Source: The Collector and Art Critic, Vol. 4, No. 12 (Oct.

, 1906), pp. 336-340 Published by: Stable URL: . Accessed: 28/11/2011 02:24
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BY JOSEF ISRAELS. I could not discover the old masters were still hidden to me. the painting. painting. When the Ryksmuseum was completed. Calame Pieneman. to his studio Soon I was admitted painter. from nature. Gallait. the pointed one in the left corner with the heads of the "Syndics"-the hat on his gray hair captivated me. but I lacked the study and practice which of and highly artistic qualities the unusual to understand indispensable how cultured one may be. REMBRANDT. that no matter I contend the Dutch Masters. When. some twenty years ago. It took a long time before I had the courage to enter that Sanctum with to me after I had been painting But a light appeared paint and brushes. Art appreciation character and depth of these art expressions. to to Amsterdam I journeyed art student. as the Van der Hoop."* reply. provinces. people about which the beauty of those old scenes and dark canvases in Arti. REMBRANDT was the master's allowed to do this-"no. at pres To the abundance ent piled up under the above title. and the fine execution of dark a background against sometimes red velvet. and gradually in these old masters. in Amsterdam. "if you want from the Just arrived I did not dare to express my disappointment. I-may in this offering to contribute be allowed honor of the great master. long and fre he will not be able to enjoy those grand old men without must be trained to enter thoroly into the quent study. Then I tried a I was not very successful. as an It is over fifty years ago when. many in the soft handling the aim should not be the pleasingly that understand to the relievo of objects. and had made for some time to I commenced studies from the* nude and many more stillives. are very much behind others. and admired greatly the portraits of prom he was people which inent Amsterdam The pinkish color of the faces. of the instruction under place myself then a very renowned portrait Kruseman. relation of the figures to chiaroscuro. At last I stood before one of head by Van der Helst. which went better. . but that I had to pay most attention their action and movement.336 THE COLLECTOR AND ART CRITIC. go to the Trippenhuis. this collectionl and other col lections. I was not copy some of these portraits. *The "Trippenhuis" was a museum on the Kloveniersburgwal where a private collection was housed that had been left to the State. indoors and out in the country. I tried at first to copy a little "Her Not knowing much of technique. of the garments. I was so It was not because and Koekoek. of literature. in which mit" by Gerard Dou. a desire to I expressed however. were brought to the new buiilding. and I admired especially the exhibitions I much preferred raved. interested me greatly. to the Trip far greater pleasure this point of view I went with With of expression the beauty and wealth I discovered penhuis." to copy.

green cloth covered tablewas there to spread out the portfolios containing those treasures. But when one has seen the little portrait of his mother. ing more beautiful the tenderness and thoughtfulness The motherly of the dear gentleness. that other prints. cellent portraits. . full of acting the compositions and brown. soul-ex They were mostly thrown on to aid his richly imaginative pressions mind. no matter how clever. They all mean not a touch could be left out. then again of his rarely beautiful head. when one day I wandered And was stood even tho Frans Rembrandt who first. It was an attractive room having a view on a garden. They were clear than his etchings. not only endowed with the force and breadth of a first-class brush handler. the only Rembrandt. . And there I sat. but also thoroly at home in what ever the needle could accomplish on the hard. . shining copper. less comprehensibly and it was some time before I still think to be the case they satisfied me. and wipe his eyes. a feeling for light you come to look carefully. and the nalve.of the needle. every sentiment. which it is all well thought out. and who every point of view. a long. but I understood-what never intended to have these drawings that the master neatly framed and I caught their meaning. So wonderful. But these etchings did not alone impress me so much was especially extraordinary dexterity-I charmed by because of their the ingenuity of the compositions. which were so precious to me. Thus I tried from various artists to catch their color scheme and 337 tech nique. figures. who upstairs had wrought How surprised in oil the glorious and the broad "Syndics"-to "Nightwatch" find him here as an engraver par excellence. Noth should close the portfolio a moment can be found than the deep feeling of this engraving.THE COLLECTOR AND ART CRITIC. These drawings were highly problematical. And yet there was a third expression talent-his of Rembrandt's draw to ings. after so manv decades have . Superficially examined. Hals impressed me most for his brush handling-it added thereto his color and light effects. hard. and the curator did not cease urging me to be I would careful when be mixing these sheets to compare them one with the other. until the beauties of the "Nightwatch" and the "Syndics" over powered me to that extent that nothing attracted me except what had come from the hand of the great master. has an insistent pictorial sentiment. Then exhibited. childlike ac tions wherewith he endowed his figures. I saw in his work Something that I could not see in any other-his freedom and exuberance. landscapes-everything II. something. in the museum For quite a while I had been studying Rembrandt's paintings from downstairs to the so-called print room. buildings. one . with every inspiration. Thoughtlessly with a hand that created masterpieces the paper they were-yet. the wonderful light effects. thick lines. every scratch. original and so in expression exact were these scenes. are big. And passed how do I now away? think of the master. little woman are in every line. often and long. still looked academic There were ex and puerile by comparison. Here were kept Rembrandt's etchings in excellent states. friends. but were not tolerated at the Academy or the teacher's studio. I was to find the artist. now of himself. engrossed in these two hun dred and forty art works. they are spoiled by all kinds of inkstains and cross each other wildly But when and strangely. and yet encouraging a young artist who was looking for means to express himself.

art. hat is a true Falstaff of a worn-out that bespeaks about him is a true artist's bravura. passing along on this enormous this per to observe side of the painting Then we turn to the righthand face under the shadow pock-marked His apparently spiring drummer. Then the black one. which almost full of energy is all as if you can grasp them. the great master. they are the leaders of the band. . and so he let them stand. at once. That is Rem in a light costume. as they step out of the group. so natural. ject for him was that there was look. he invents this contrast of big lines. bibulous nose. sharp light against to contrast unabashed brandt! to dark. that had given the commission the likeness of the gentlemen Mayhap about a have heard already complaints was not quite exact. that is plainly be at a loss."* glance we are at once struck by the broad movements sing thru the enormous like color-sounds. There he stood. How touch the frame-it to the bodies. of can vas. there stands his with in red. I can understand in his big exclaims de Lairesse critic Gerard and punctilious dilettante runs like dirt over the the pigment "With Rembrandt book on art: frame. Snobbery But we turn now once more to the left of the scene. should be there-and in the these two men did not come quite far enough In his opinion So he took again his big palette and dipped his broadest foreground. taken in hand with mighty were once more clever to give a still more light. here partly in a shadow of delicious nuances and combines ex This red -man tones of the other figures. called Rembrandt. the boots of the white man-they steel neckguard. strokes. light against harmonize he seeks to the left arm of the dark man as if with a gesture extend and so he throws a big sunny half shadow on his white argue something. two men come to you. the clothes are moulded all have mar the sash. with the red bandoleer. how he succeeded. Genius knows how to help itself." see the September nutmber. One is entirely dark. for he knew that the play of light and shade would therefore. does not strike you. of Rembrandt's me and view the greatest expression given us in his "Nightwatch.338 Come with which he has At the first shadows and THE COLLECTOR AND ART CRITIC." and genius will always be at odds. in red. how he is drumming daring. his figure. with velous painter's quality. light which. Rembrandt dressed entirely the clever arquebusier. seeing this man as he sails along. the gray-green quisitely with *For a reproduction of the "Nightwatch. which is a combination the glove and the cane-it I know of no representation it is so true. the master's creations of the famous that he is one of the most magnificent announce artist. the narrow. fat lips-everything to away. Then. so simple. help. than these two men. as if he wants Look. figures and these two foremost brushes once more deep in the pigment here more depth. and so he tried everything there more to bring out. where common people would comrade. The red is. because of those times and picturesqueness the abandon shows stronger which canvas. the other dressed to And the black. that. the and character are those heads. These two men are apparently to be seen. Look. his thick. in conversation. Then he saw that it was he wanted relief to that which good. or he might the principal ob did he care? particularizing-what lack of painstaking And life in it and these men moved. when all was put on the canvas that then he shook his head. was not afraid to present someone entirely talent for chiaroscuro. From the plumes on their hats to the soles of their shoes.

you must not course. So many critics and writers have split their heads on the question. for the "Syndics. These people have been living on that canvas for a couple of hundred years. as seen in the Syndics. There they sit. from top to bottom with one big stroke." All is so quiet and what a different note it sounds from the music serene. is no lQnger to be found. On the contrary-conditions have changed. I don't know whether much was written or talked about this picture -when it was fin as for me. Yes! do you know that this painting kills the work of the old Dutch brethren? Clever Van der Helst Hals becomes sketchy and transparent-so much solidity and relief with so much naturalness of pose and action. And he stands there quick. to hear many bickerings because he didn't follow the ancients or learned from of . But those sad thoughts which arise so often when we rehearse the lives those of whom humanity is proud. and will survive us a long time. They are all painted with such force. against which you see that helmet. for me these heads are the supreme expression to which the art of painting may reach." Rembrandt's During life he had. so that we may sympathize with all his success and his many disappointments. It is remarkable that none of the acknowledged masters of painting in the course of time has been so severely criticized as Rembrandt has been.THE COLLECTOR ART AND CRITIC. the old Germans and the Spaniards. who has seen and admired ished-but so much art of the great Italians. Never has Rembrandt's art been exalted as it is now. And still there is something wonderful: that strange little girl run But if Rembrandt had heard them. feet with one full brush. what the artist really meant and whether she ought to have been there. In this wonderful painting you find every moment something startling. Rembrandt stands now at the zenith of his glory. is so rightly in place for the ensemble. then see the man who is examining beautifully that laughing boy with his gray hat stands his out Look at him closely. such brilliancy. those old Dutch men of affairs consulting. And the man who did this masterpiece was a poor citizen who lived in a miserable quarter of the city where they have just now been celebrating! becomes superficial. lively. moving-rich. And yet. that grand simple masterpiece-and of the "Nightwatch.e answered smilingly: all those lines running down and those dark colors? And around since you a little-of are here now. Even the gray pillar. that in the course of time they have Old acquaintances-who lived a few hundred years before us. with the guild books on the table. such life. Don't you see that I needed against the background." that light-bearing child there as a foil against take it ill if we should look There it hangs. and only the supreme conception of human countenance holds sway. even aside of his work-his whole life is to be investigated. advancing man 339 That gun. Archives and are searched documents to discover all that can be known of him. and Rembrandt has interpreted those heads so lifelike the become old acquaintances. graceful Frans III. he would hav. pikeman and how on the left talks. despite all that has been said of the improbability of the scene and the exaggeration of the dark background-still the "Nightwatch" remains what it has been from the beginning: "the world's wonder. also and has had the brushing of which it seems as if this picturesque I have spoken. has been put on his ning around among all these men. especially in his later years. have no place here.

a man who artist. the grandeur mirrors ." C. These pages enough.t Rembrandt in his work. theories which were by his tech suggested cavil about the dangerous It is the depth of his meaning. "Petronnella Reniibrandts-the lost one of its choicest has America lovely Though sale-it at the recent was out of the country Jefferson which Joseph bought Buys. and they all breathe nothing but enthusiasm and excesses to ascribe his apparent shortcomings we are liberal enough of an extraordinary personality. Cassel.340 CRITIC. only show wha. free and untrammeled of our old republic. the They portray always has been to me. that rare jewel. Institute. several writers used to his own bent. Art in the Chicago It is now on exhibition of himself. were not able to comprehend nique-they in the last fifty years. of one of its citizens. . best-known portraits .^ REMBRZANDT SUPPOSED of Courtesy Berlin Photo PORTRAIT OF COPPENOF Co. Frank Mr. to the peculiarities And thus I close. genial in all he did. thinking of the portrait of Jan Six. and and admiration. Books and pamphlets Yes. _~~~~~~~~~~. For many years after his death." which Gorget. Brunswick-but thinking of the Louvre. the wis~e choice another lhas gained through "Rem a picture called from Amsterdam and brought has bought of Chicago Logan is one of the painter's in His a Feathier with in a Steel brandt Cap. AND THE COLLECTOR ART to follow that he always was strong enough It is fortunate the Italians. have appeared different now.

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