Sep 282012

The bad judgment  of art experts is notorious. Their distaste for the work of Van Gogh or Cezanne meant that neither could hope to live by their art. Todays museums of modern art will prove a permanent memorial to the folly of the “experts”. Yet it is not only judgment of contemporary art where they fail; today’s experts on Rembrandt have done equal disservice to art. Their view that he drew from an “inner vision” is at odds with all previous judgments and flatly contradicts the opinion of those who actually knew Rembrandt. Rembrandt and his students drew and painted from tableaux vivant arranged in his studio.

My article – Rembrandt’s Use of Models and Mirrors (Burlington Feb 1977) proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that this was so. I have continued to add to that evidence on on YouTube and in my still unpublished book “A New Key to Rembrandt”. The new key is the proof that groups of models were present because Rembrandt also drew their reflections, not once but many times. The reflections were probably seen in a mirror of polished metal as glass of the necessary size came later. The style of the drawings made from reflections is easily recognizable and the subject matter is reversed and seen from a new view-point (unlike print images). This undermines the scholarship of the last 100 years, which has built a fantasy development/dating for Rembrandt’s drawings based on the palpably false assumption that the drawings are derived from imagination. Since my article today’s experts have continued to reduce Rembrandt’s corpus of drawings to 500 where Benesch in 1954 believed in about 1500. They are prepared to de-attribute drawings because they do not fall into their misguided  style/date pigeon-holes.

I am pleased to note that The National Gallery (London) has bowed to common sense and reinstated their version of Rembrandt’s painting “The Adoration of the Shepherds” perhaps as a result of my demonstration on YouTube. The painting had been scorned by the Rembrandt Research Project. The fact that the experts in the drawings have not done the same in the 35 years since my article rather points to bad faith as well as bad judgment.