May 232011

I was invited to speak about Rembrandt by PINC, a Dutch equivalent of Ted. It was a great experience. One got a mere 20 minutes to say one’s piece. I spent ages trying to cut mine down to that length. I just about managed it but at the last minute I tried to include something about two previous speakers that were relevant to my story. It ate up precious minutes so the rest was too hurried. Fortunately, I had a second chance which turned out very much better (see “Triumph”)

I have had a most fruitful time at exhibitions here in Amsterdam, Leiden and the Hague. I also had a good talk with Dr. C.Vogelaar who is in charge of Lakenhall at Leiden and the curator of The Lucas van Leiden’s shows there and at The Rembrandt House. The shows were a great treat, I saw a clear line of descent even from Lucas’ teacher, to Rembrandt. Rembrandt quite clearly doted on LvL. Not only did he pay a very high price for his prints initially. He re-bought them after his bankruptcy and hung on to them till he was forced to be porn them in1668.

Lucas was not a great painter but the syntax of his drawings and prints was a very strong springboard from which Rembrandt took off. In my analysis of the syntax in my DVD I use Holbein and Roman portraits as the springboard but Lucas was a hero in his own town. I will write a little piece about it here when I receive the necessary photos from Dr.Vogelaar.

The Rembrandt House Museum has done a wonderful job of restoring the house to something very like it must have been (nearly new) in Rembrandt’s time. It now gives a real sense of what it once was. The only thing missing is the multitude of old clothes, cloths and props, which I am assured will be present, if not in multitudes, when the present exhibition of Rembrandt and Lucas van Leiden finishes. They, of course are very strong corroboration of my view of Rembrandt.

ps. The baskets full of life casts of hands and a head painted by Rembrandt himself was also missing!

I have one horror to report of my Dutch visit: the same modern varnish that I was worried about in the Bronzino show is being used everywhere and on the Rembrandt’s in the Mauritzhuis it is a disaster. If you can imagine a shiny surface on a dark and highly textured painting with a chandelier of three dozen halogen bubbles behind; poor Rembrandt seems to be covered in tinsel. The same goes for the darker Van Goghs in his museum, though there the lighting is not quite so horrific.

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