Showing posts with label Rembrandt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rembrandt. Show all posts

Monday, July 1, 2013

Painting: Tobit Accusing Anna of Stealing the Kid

The subject of the painting was taken from the Apocryphal Book of Tobit. Tobit was a wealthy and strict adherent to Mosaic Law. He lost all of his money and was blinded by an accident. The wife went to work sewing and washing to support the family. She brought home a kid goat and Tobit accused her of stealing it. She chastised him for his self-righteousness and frees him from his limited thinking. Later their fortunes are restored by the efforts of their son and his eyes fixed from blindness from fish entrails.

The painting helps us think about how even from the lowest depths man’s lot can change. It is difficult for us to judge others with any real sense of accuracy. To do so requires the ability to weigh and balance all of the possible reasons and justifications. Unfortunately, many of us make the fatal mistake of using self-righteousness to make ourselves look better than and more moral than others. In this case, freeing himself from his narrow thinking also freed him to improve his life. 

The painting is from Rembrandt and was completed in Leiden in 1625. He had a knack for putting religious themes and emotion within his paintings. These emotions related around concepts such as joy and anguish. As he got older his paintings improved expressing such feelings with ever increasing finite detail. He turned from a timid painter to a bold painter with lifelike scenes.

Rembrandt made a mistake in this painting and covered up an object. He painted over a spinning wheel to express the anguish and supplication better with Tobit’s hands. The wheel would have shown the rest of the story and difficulties his wife was having to make ends meet but would have confused the area. One can still see a part of the spinning wheel and spokes. Tobit’s is naturally darker in this area. 

Rembrandt, known as Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, was born in 1606 during the Dutch Golden Age. He is seen as one of the world’s greatest painters. Even though he achieved success early in his life and his paintings were popular throughout Europe during his lifetime he had significant financial hardship in his later years. He liked to buy lots of unique works and had an extensive collection. Perhaps more than he could afford. Eventually he needed to liquidate his work through bankruptcy. 

One unique feature of Rembrandt was his stereo blindness. An analysis of a number of paintings helped to determine that his two eyes did not function together well. He did not perceive the same level of depth as others. This flattening made it easier for him to draw pictures on a two dimensional canvas. This became a modern method of teaching art students to close one eye while painting to create the same effect. 

The Reading of Tobit

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn (1642)

The Night Watch (1642) is one of the most famous paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn. The name is actually incorrect as the painting was inappropriately covered in dark varnish and appears to depict a night scene. However, the varnish was removed in the 1940's giving the total work a brighter image of day time. The painting was originally entitled Patrouille de Nuit by the French and "Night Watch" by Sir Joshua Reynolds. The intent of the painting was to move the subjects into the bright light of the day.

Rembrandt was born in Leyden to a miller and the daughter of a baker. His father owned a windmill and people came to use the saying that Rembrandt was "born in a windmill". He was brought into a family of five siblings. His father decided that he should study to be a lawyer but instead he turned to art. He received his earliest training from a relative by the name of Jacob van Swanenburch before moving onto more skilled masters. He finally moved to Amsterdam and married a wealthy lady by the name of Saskia van Ulenburg.

The painting is conducted of a Musketeer company. Captain Frans Banning-Kock and his company paid Rembrandt for a historic and glorious picture walking in the middle of day in their full dress. The two figures walking are Frans Banning-Cocq, Lord of Furmerland and Ipendam, the company captain. The archers guild who commissioned the painting refused to give Rembrandt the money because their faces were not clearly visible. He thus received the worst compensation out of any of his paintings.

The Musketeer (mousquetaire) was considered part of the basic infantry in early European history. They could at times be used as a dragoon on horseback and were lightly armed. Around 1850's they were replaced by rifleman except in Germany where they maintained the name until WWI. They were also used in Turkey where the famous Janissary Corps was formed. China also used the musketeers since the 1400s.  At times the muskets were adapted to shields and created slow burn machine guns by turning the shield as each shot was fired. 

The painting was drawn during the Dutch Golden Age that lasted from 1568-1648. The time was marked by increased wealth and flourishing works in trade, science, military and art. In 1568 seven provinces signed the Union of Utrech which started the 80 years war as a rebellion against Spain. This war continued until the Peace of Westphalia which gave the country formal recognition. The Dutch East India company started the first modern stock market and the Bank of Amsterdam was established as the first central bank.