Mar 312015

What are the advantages of life-casting? I believe I have proved conclusively that The Bronzes of Riace are based on life-casting. Many besides myself regard them as the best of their kind ever made. They are supermen cast from an athlete around 2m in height. They have been individualized but might well have both originated from the same plaster mould. I do not believe that the heads were cast from life. They were clearly made by two different sculptors, who, there is good reason to believe, were assistants of Pheidias.

The reasons for my admiration are not just the truly amazing anatomical detail of muscles, bones and even veins but their sculptural presence owes a lot to the fact that these are put together with a sense of form (as Plato defined it) which derive from their archaic ancestors. The craftsmanship is beyond compare.

There is only one point at which the original cast has hardly been touched: the soles of the feet and it is here that the proof lies. I have only seen photographs so I cannot say whether there are any trace of the equivalent of fingerprints on the toes. This would be icing on the cake if they did exist. Normally one would not expect a cast to transmit so fine a detail, though there are instances of this.

The proof is simple:- the soles of their feet are formed entirely naturalistically and undoubtedly support the weight of the figure above because the feet are spread and squashed by his weight: note they cannot have been observed in that position as they are firmly on the ground. The soles of course will never be seen by the public so why model them so carefully. Obviously they were not modeled they were cast. Furthermore, a cast taken from a clay standing sculpture would have no soles, at most a strap or pin to fix the sculpture to a base. I know of three examples of naturalistic soles: The Riace pair, The Apollo of Piombino and the Apollo of Pireus, how many more are needed to convince the scholars that life casting was prevalent in ancient Greece?

We are told that Lysippus and his brother produced 1500 sculptures understood to be mainly in bronze and mainly life-size. Allowing for exaggeration this is an incredible production by any other means.

That the life-casts were worked over there can be no doubt. There would be many more wrinkles at the joints in an untouched life-cast. Most critics would agree with Spivey (New Statesman) that they have been enhanced in other ways as well. Wax is a wonderfully malleable material. It occurs naturally in many forms most of which can be mixed together or with oils or resins to vary the consistency from boot polish to something so hard and brittle that it shatters when dropped. Normally sculptors like wax that is elastic and has a melting point such that it becomes soft when held in the hand. Usually it becomes liquid at temperatures that do not burn but are uncomfortably hot.

One of the huge advantages of wax is that it can be poured or painted into a wet plaster mould and will not bond with it. The thickness of the wax deposited in the mould depends on the time it spends in the mould and the temperature. The flexibility of warm wax also allows more than one casting from a simple two piece mould.

In Hellenistic times founders favoured a thickness of about 3mm. as they do today. Earlier bronzes tended to be thicker as the techniques were less advanced so the risk of miscasts were greater. Most of the faults in excavated bronzes are the result of joints and mends that have come apart with time, not the result of corrosion. A perfect bronze cast is the exception not the rule. Ancient methods of correcting casting faults were very time consuming.

When I say I believe that The Discobolos was life-cast I do not mean that some model stood in that position while a plaster cast was made. I believe that a simple standing pose can be maintained with the help of props for the two hours needed. I demonstrate the process in the 2nd edition of my book “Sculpture, the Art and the Practice”. I used plaster to simulate ancient techniques, where a modern practitioner would probably prefer more flexible rubbers particularly for the chest. The process of arranging the pose in action would be done by cutting up the resulting wax and reassembling it as desired.

I think the early versions of the Discobolos though transformed into stone, clearly demonstrate that this was the method. It would be interesting to examine the inside of the Dancing Satyr to see if this method could be confirmed. When dealing with the Hellenistic period there was so much copying of copies that we should only expect to find such evidence in the first prototype. Another example could be the two Runners from Villa Papiri. There may be methods of investigating the thickness and roughness of the interior without the expense of removing the core.

A final argument for the hollow wax method would be to ask whether it would be possible to make an armature sufficiently strong to support the weight of clay for the The Kyme Runner balanced on the toes of one foot. He is 154cm high, reproduced p 27 of the Power and Pathos catalogue.

The sculptures at Olympia is the moment at which I would guess this process was first used judging by the change of style. The Critios Boy is another turning point that looks as if it is carved with the use of a fixed life reference but I do not know if there is any other way of dating it but by style. There seems to be some controversy about the dating of the two Bronzes of Riace: some see them as straddling the severe/classical divide. I see their point but the obvious fact that they must have been made for a single monument overrides the change in style for me. It is an example of two individuals responding differently to the life-casting technique. Figure B being more “advanced” than A. I presume the varying speed of assimilation of of the new idea of contraposto accounts for the changes in style in the Parthenon itself. While we have to rely on style for dating purposes these arguments will remain circular.

Nov 292014

nkonstam@verrocchio.co.uk
tel 0039-0577-948312 fax –399
www.saveRembrandt.org.uk

to The Greek & Roman Dept.
The British Museum
cc. Sir Neil MacGregor
my blog
Nov 14th 2014

Dear Sirs,
I was shocked to see that the ear lobes of Hadrian (room 70) had been ‘restored’. I made an analysis of how this portrait was copied into marble which was published in Apollo Magazine Aug. 1972. Since then I developed the idea of the two traditions of European form making: the Greek and the Roman, the latter of which relies on three dimensional geometry such as I demonstrated in the Apollo article. This is elaborated again in my book “Sculpture, the Art and the Practice” (Collins sold 7000 copies). The second edition is still in print in which I report on my discoveries in Greece, prompted by The Riace Bronzes, (now published by Verrocchio Arts). Furthermore, the Roman tradition, which is little understood by art historians, is central to my ebook on Rembrandt, found at www.nigelkonstam.com
It is disappointing that there is so little exchange between the historians and the practitioners of art that these publications have escaped the notice of your staff. They have repaired the chips in both of Hadrian’s ears which constitutes the clearest demonstration of my thesis: that three dimensional geometry was used and loved by the Romans and many great artists since (Rembrandt owned 30 Roman portraits and filled two books with drawings of them).
May I hope that the masking of an intrinsic and important detail of the manufacture of the original will be  removed as soon as possible.
Yours truly,

Nigel Konstam, sculptor
ps I enclose a brochure on The Museum of Artists’ Secrets, now known as The Research Centre for the True History of Art. I would be very pleased to show you round.

Jul 022014

rrprrp2

Jul 022014

At 81 my dream of being able to restore Rembrandt to his true status is fading. I have done all I can to inform a new generation of how to go about it in my book and on YouTube. What I have been unable to achieve is the training of fresh minds and eyes to see Rembrandt as I see him. Though I have advertised courses at the Centro d’Arte Verrocchio no one has enroled. However, I feel my ship is coming home and the offer of training still stands.

There have been a number of unacknowledged victories over the years and two major ones just recently: The National Gallery has reinstated their Adoration of the Shepherds, dismissed by the RRP. Second, Van der Wetering, once leader of the RRP has welcomed back the National Gallery’s Old Man Sitting in a Chair as “a very important painting”. I vigorously opposed its deattribution at the time. I feel sure that my YouTube demonstration of “The Adoration” must have convinced someone with clout at the NG. It is still not reattributed by the RRP as far as I know.
I was the first to condemn Isaac Joudeville as a contender to have painted early Rembrandt portraits. Christopher Brown followed my lead and Joudeville has not been heard of since. (Johannes Raven has taken his place with even less to recommend him as a draughtsman.) I also insisted that Rembrandt’s Wallace self-portrait, nasty as it is, was still genuine. All of which are now accepted as true. We are just waiting for the landslide of 1000 Rembrandt drawings to return to the fold. This must happen when the scholars recognize that his contemporaries knew what they were talking about when they said such things as “ he would not attempt a single brush-stroke without a living model before his eyes” (A.Houbraken)

Here is further advice to the new generation
1. Be very skeptical of the old guard in every respect.
2. Try to get the cooperation of Scotland Yard (or similar) to check ink, paper and handwriting. (A list of instances will follow.)
3. Get an artist admirer of Rembrandt to teach you drawing every day till satisfied that you have got the point. Then once a weak, at least.
4. Study my film on Hadrian and the influence of Roman portraiture on Rembrandt and many others.
5. Study my criticism of Raphael.
6. Expect from Rembrandt observations of life as it is, definitely not idealized.
7. Beware of hubris and rigidity. Rembrandt is very varied, perhaps bipolar.

Apr 102013
Monument to Elaine Morgan - tenacious proponent of the aquatic ape hypothesis

Monument to Elaine Morgan - tenacious proponent of the aquatic ape hypothesis

Jun 052012

We have the date of 1915 for the publication of Heindrich Wolfflin’s ground-breaking book “The Principles of Art History”. My essay is an inquiry into who is most responsible for the consequences of the ground on which Art was founded, breaking-up – the artist or the critic?

Picasso is a convenient hook on which to hang the artists’ smock but in truth we need to acknowledge that Rodin was the first to take major liberties with the unwritten rules of western art. Rules by which marks made on a two dimensional surface can be read as solid masses existing in  three dimensional space. Rodin’s early drawings leave us in no doubt that he fully understood those rules, yet in later life he went on to take liberties with the rules of drawing as he did with the classical rules of good manners in sculpture. (His sculpture has rules of it’s own.) Many artists in Paris followed Rodin’s example but Picasso went further than anyone else in search of freedom.

Looking at Picasso’s Blue Period drawing we can again say that he fully understood the rules. Indeed he operated with amazing skill within those rules. I am looking at a dry point dated 1905    “The Washing” in which a Saltimbank mother is engaged in washing her child, watched by the father. The cat rubs himself against the father’s back with a movement around his body that is more than convincing, it is utterly cat-like. Yet the cattiness must have been the result of many separate observations rather than the prolonged view from a fixed viewpoint we would normally associate with this quality of drawing. The embrace of the mother and child is another instance of the same quality, drawn from a mixture of memories and observation. The achievement takes ones breath away.

Dry-point is a technique requiring a firm hand to scratch the surface of a plate of copper or zinc with a steel point. It has the advantage over etching that if necessary one can take as long as one likes preparing the design on the plate. With etching the surface is covered with a thin film of wax on to which one can scribe from a preliminary drawing but the wax is easily damaged so corrections have to be done with the etching needle through the wax. Whereas with dry point one could temporarily cover the naked copper with a layer of guache and go on  drawing and correcting until one is satisfied. Then scribe through to the copper, leaving the impression of dazzling, first-time, virtuosity.

I doubt whether history will ever know whether Picasso used a similar method for this work. What is certain is that he never again produced such a complete masterpiece under the old rules. There are isolated passages in his later work that remind us of his brilliance but never again the continuous modeling of solid and space displayed here.

Picasso and Braque went on to invent Cubism in which the third dimension is taboo. Cubism argues that a drawing or painting takes place on a two dimensional surface and should stick on that surface, not break through to the third dimension as tradition suggests. (Cubism is an extreme version of the then current “Functionalism” in architecture.) Picasso quickly out grew this constricting dogma but it left a stain on his art. From then on there were flashes of brilliance mixed with an entertaining richness of invention, handling and sexy subject matter but sadly not the old ambition to give form to the complex wonders of the visible.

Picasso was brought up in an artistic family. He absorbed the rules of art instinctively, so much so that he may have had no idea they existed. I myself had an art training as an adult and therefore, maybe have more consciousness of the unwritten rules. Indeed I have made an attempt to codify the rules in my DVD on “Syntax”. I believe I have defined the key role Rembrandt played in the development of syntax in art since his time. Picasso had boundless enthusiasm for the adventurous quality of  Rembrandt’s drawings, which I share.

After his initial seriousness Picasso became more and more playful as he himself recognized “I wanted to become a painter but I became Picasso”. His art is entertaining, inventive and very conscious of the debt he owed to the past. As an educator I find some of his sculptures useful and witty in making a point. Picasso had every right to behave as he did but I regret the huge influence he has exercised on the course of art for the last century.

We all enjoy play; all salute the idea of liberty but if we offered complete freedom from the rules to chess players not one of them would be interested. Chess is a game that requires intuition, foresight, flexibility and inventiveness but take away the rules and it becomes a game for infants. Sadly art has become a far less serious game since Picasso.

Where does Wolfflin come into this picture? He wrote a very earnest book. He had had an art school education which may have impressed his art historical colleagues but his book horrified me when I first read it around 1975. He did not seem to have the least appreciation of the will to explore that is the driving force behind  most serious art. He and his followers gave a strong push to the 20thC band-wagon which had gone off the rails. His influence on art criticism is as big as Picasso’s on art. As a result connoisseurship has evaporated.

Wolfflin focuses his attention on superficial style without appreciating the depth of serious exploration that prompts the marks artists leave behind on the canvas or paper in the process of giving form to the particular experience. Any practitioner could have told the experts that surface style changes largely according to what tools or materials are being used. To associate changes of style only with the development of the artist (as in recent Rembrandt scholarship) is a mistake that could only have been embraced by a mafia of heedless dilettante.

I have been offering advice to Rembrandt scholars since 1974 when I made the definitive discovery, that yes, Rembrandt used models to act out his Biblical scenes before he drew from them. This rediscovery happens to match with what his contemporaries had told use; “he would not attempt a single brush stroke without a living model before his eyes”(Houbraken). His student Samuel Hougstratten  advised “take one or two of your fellow students and act out the scene, some of the greatest masters did the same”.

But the experts continue with their absurd study of style, summarily dismissing what does not match their misguided expectations. By now they have so disfigured the image of Rembrandt that he is quite unrecognizable to those who knew him of old. They have de-attributed over half his paintings and drawings.

How is it possible that modern trumpeters are valued more highly than Rembrandt, the artist who has done more to educate our senses to the expression of human feeling than any other? We are a culture in headlong decline.

We have come to value the recognizably new because we have lost touch with the qualities that make art valuable. Art historians generally seem to value the products of the imagination above observation. They do not seem to realize that what we see has necessarily to be interpreted by the imagination using previous experience as a guide. Traditional art creates vibrations in the soul by quoting echoes from the past. Absolute newness precludes this deep communication. I blame Wolfflin and his critic followers, a lot more than Picasso. They have seized the reins of power that guide establishment art and subconsciously perverted it to something they feel capable of commenting on (see “The Painted Word” by Tom Wolfe). Recent Rembrandt scholarship is a disgrace that Art History should never, ever be allowed to forget. Art History does not self-regulate, on the contrary it blocks criticism from within and without.

See www.saveRembrandt.org.uk

Feb 262012


We have the date of 1915 for the publication of Heindrich Wolfflin’s ground-breaking book “The Principles of Art History”. My essay is an inquiry into who is most responsible for the consequences of the ground on which Art was founded, breaking-up – the artist or the critic?

Picasso is a convenient hook on which to hang the artists’ smock but in truth we need to acknowledge that Rodin was the first to take major liberties with the unwritten rules of western art. Rules by which marks made on a two dimensional surface can be read as solid masses existing in three dimensional space. Rodin’s early drawings leave us in no doubt that he fully understood those rules, yet in later life he went on to take liberties with the rules of drawing as he did with the classical rules of good manners in sculpture. (His sculpture has rules of it’s own.) Many artists in Paris followed Rodin’s example but Picasso went further than anyone else.

Looking at Picasso’s Blue Period drawing we can again say that he fully understood the rules. Indeed he operated with amazing skill within those rules. I am looking at a dry point dated 1905 “The Washing” in which a Saltimbank mother is engaged in washing her child, watched by the father. The cat rubs himself against the back of the father with a movement around his body that is more than convincing, it is utterly cat-like. Yet the cattiness must have been the result of many separate observations rather than the prolonged view from a fixed viewpoint we would normally associate with this quality of drawing. The embrace of the mother and child is another instance of the same quality, drawn from a mixture of memories and observation. The achievement takes ones breath away.

Dry-point is a technique requiring a firm hand to scratch the surface of a plate of copper or zinc with a steel point. It has the advantage over etching that if necessary one can take as long as one likes preparing the design on the plate. With etching the surface is covered with a thin film of wax on to which one can scribe from a preliminary drawing but the wax is easily damaged so corrections have to be done with the etching needle through the wax. Whereas with dry point one could temporarily cover the naked copper with a layer of guache and go on drawing and correcting until one is satisfied. Then scribe through to the copper, leaving the impression of dazzling, first-time, virtuosity.

I doubt whether history will ever know whether Picasso used a similar method for this work. What is certain is that he never again produced such a complete masterpiece under the old rules. There are isolated passages in his later work that remind us of his brilliance but never again the continuous modeling of solid and space displayed here.

Picasso and Braque went on to invent Cubism in which the third dimension is taboo. Cubism argues that a drawing or painting takes place on a two dimensional surface and should stick on that surface, not break through to the third dimension as tradition suggests. (Cubism is an extreme version of the then current “Functionalism” in architecture.) Picasso quickly out grew this constricting dogma but it left a stain on his art. From then on there were flashes of brilliance mixed with an entertaining richness of invention, handling and sexy subject matter but sadly not the old ambition to give form to the complex wonders of the visible.

Picasso was brought up in an artistic family. He absorbed the rules of art instinctively, so much so that he may have had no idea they existed. I myself had an art training as an adult and therefore, maybe have more consciousness of the unwritten rules. Indeed I have made an attempt to codify the rules in my DVD on “Syntax”. I believe I have defined the key role Rembrandt played in the development of syntax in art since his time. Picasso had an enthusiasm for the adventurous quality of Rembrandt’s drawings, which I share.

After his initial seriousness Picasso became more and more playful as he himself recognized “I wanted to become a painter but I became Picasso”. His art is entertaining, inventive and very conscious of the debt he owed to the past. As an educator I find some of his sculptures useful and witty in making a point. Picasso had every right to behave as he did but I regret the huge influence he has exercised on the course of art for the last century.

We all enjoy play; all salute the idea of liberty but if we offered complete freedom from the rules to chess players not one of them would be interested. Chess is a game that requires intuition, foresight, flexibility and inventiveness but take away the rules and it becomes a game for infants. Sadly art has become a far less serious game since Picasso.

Where does Wolfflin come into this picture? He wrote a very earnest book. He had had an art school education which may have impressed his art historical colleagues but his book horrified me when I first read it around 1975. He did not seem to have the least appreciation of the will to explore that is the driving force behind most serious art. He and his followers gave a strong push to the 20thC band-wagon which had gone off the rails. His influence on art criticism is as big as Picasso’s on art. As a result connoisseurship has evaporated.

Wolfflin focuses his attention on superficial style without appreciating the depth of serious exploration that prompts the marks artists leave behind on the canvas or paper in the process of giving form to the particular experience. Any practitioner could have told the experts that surface style changes largely according to what tools or materials are being used. To associate changes of style only with the development of the artist (as in recent Rembrandt scholarship) is a mistake that could only have been embraced by a mafia of heedless dilettante.

I have been offering advice to Rembrandt scholars since 1974 when I made the definitive discovery, that yes, Rembrandt used models to act out his Biblical scenes before he drew from them. This rediscovery happens to match with what his contemporaries had told use; “he would not attempt a single brush stroke without a living model before his eyes”(Houbraken). His student Samuel Hougstratten advised “take one or two of your fellow students and act out the scene, some of the greatest masters did the same”.

But the experts continue with their absurd study of style, summarily dismissing what does not match their misguided expectations. By now they have so disfigured the image of Rembrandt that he is quite unrecognizable to those who knew him of old. They have de-attributed over half his paintings and drawings.

How is it possible that modern trumpeters are valued more highly than Rembrandt, the artist who has done more to educate our senses to the expression of human feeling than any other? We are a culture in headlong decline.

We have come to value the recognizably new because we have lost touch with the qualities that make art valuable. Art historians generally seem to value the products of the imagination above observation. They do not seem to realize that what we see has necessarily to be interpreted by the imagination using previous experience as a guide – that is how traditional art creates vibrations in the soul by quoting echoes from the past. Absolute newness precludes deep communication. I blame Wolfflin and his critic followers, a lot more than Picasso. They have seized the reins of power that guide establishment art and subconsciously perverted it to something they feel capable of commenting on (see “The Painted Word” by Tom Wolfe). Recent Rembrandt scholarship is a disgrace that Art History should never, ever be allowed to forget. Art History does not self-regulate.

See www.saveRembrandt.org.uk

Jul 162011

The reform of art history is one of the most pressing needs of our civilization. The desperate errors of judgment that are being perpetrated by our art experts on a daily basis in both modern and ancient art must indicate that something is amiss. I have made more discoveries in the field of art history than anyone alive or dead, yet very few are interested in learning to see what I see. Rembrandt, the greatest humanist artist that has ever lived, is in serious danger of being eliminated from our cultural history.

Surely an artist has equal or better claims on the subject of seeing than an art historian. Observation is after all my daily practice as a sculptor. Whereas, to tell the truth, art historians seem much more interested in each others books than in the objects they claim to be studying. I have the huge advantage over the professionals that I come to those objects without the inbuilt prejudices with which art history blinkers its students. I have considerable practical knowledge in the case of sculpture, casting and drawing. In the case of painting at least I understand what an artist can produce from his unaided memory. The theories of art history are a sick joke in that respect.

During my lecture at Harvard I was told that “in the 17th century artists did not even need still-lives in front of them.” When I asked how they got that idea, the answer came back – certain flower paintings have flowers in them that do not bloom at the same season! I pointed out that flowers wilt, that flower painters pick their specimens one at a time – this caused consternation to all concerned.

This kind of nonsense was meant to justify the idea that Rembrandt did no need models to draw from. An idea that I could see was completely untrue in a ten minute flick through of his drawings. Equal research in the documents of those who actually knew Rembrandt confirmed my certainty that he set up groups of actors to draw from.

As a culture we have tolerated the steady destruction of the Rembrandt in the full glare of publicity, with few a murmurs of complaint. Wake up, you are living in a time of unprecedented descent into visual barbarism. If you are happy with myths stick with art history as it is; otherwise learn to see –

THE REFORM OF ART HISTORY is a 2 week course that will be run on demand from a quorum of 5. Lectures and discussion will be interspersed with practical drawing and sculpture.
Apply to nkonstam@ verrocchio.co.uk

Jul 162011

The museum consists of maquettes and instruments with which Nigel Konstam made a number of important discoveries in the field of art history and archaeology. There are also a number of DVDs and documents which explain the reasoning that made him determined to suggest reforms in those faculties. Artists should again take the lead in cultural decision making.

The subjects covered in the museum are in chronological order :- a
GREECE
1. The discovery that the Greeks used life-casting for their life-size figures from the time of Phidias onwards.
2. a chimney on the Acropolis in Athens, and another in Olympia.
3. a method of steaming moulds to recover 70% of the wax usually lost, used at Rhodes and almost certainly elsewhere.
ROME
Roman geometry had an enormous influence on subsequent art that is seldom acknowledged. The analysis of a portrait bust of Hadrian in the British Museum, demonstrates this geometry. Artists who have used it since, like Mantagna, Holbein, Rembrandt and Giacometti, are also represented in the museum.
SIENA
1an appreciation of the works of Rinaldo da Siena recently discovered under the cathedral.
2reasons why the so called Duccio Window cannot be by Duccio.
3 The discovery of the dimension of time in Simone Martini’s Madonna of the Annunciation.
4Lorenzo Maitani’s great work is on the facade of Orvieto Duomo 112sq m. of relief sculpture of very high quality. We have a film showing how he was able to accurately transmit his art to his assistants.

FLORENCE
1The probable use of a polished silver mirror in Brunelleschi’s essay in perspective.
2. The probable use of sculptural maquettes in conjunction with mirrors by Masaccio.
3.Michelangelo’s use of maquettes for preparatory drawings
4. Cellini’s casting method is demonstrated to be very close to the method of Phidias.

REMBRANDT’S use of live models and mirrors, indicating that his contemporaries knew a Rembrandt that modern scholarship has all but destroyed; an artist whose example is very important to artists who observe life today.
VELASQUEZ’ use of a large mirror from the Hall of Mirrors at the Royal Palace in Toledo for the composition and rapid completion of his most important masterpiece – Las Meninas
VERMEER’S use of two mirrors in conjunction with a camera-obscura as an aid for painting.

May 232011

The party at the Benboom’s was a triumph. Lots of guests from the media in a lovely house and garden with delicious food. Prof.Van der Wetering of the RRP came, armed with slides and a new thick book of his. Henk had gone to the trouble of making a little booklet for his invitation to the event. I am sure those who came were not disappointed.

I spoke with the same slides I had used for PINC but without that sense of the hopelessness of trying to put it over in 20 minutes. In fact it really only took me half an hour taking it at a sane pace. I had asked for that time and then was prepared for a conversation or questions. Van der Wetering immediately got up and took over with slides that clearly showed he had not taken in the difference between a mirror image and a print image. I had imagined that I had become at least a flea in his ear after our encounter at the Wallace, (I knew he had taken in nothing of my earlier instruction at Casole where we had a day of exchanges on precisely the same material, some ten years ago) No such luck – he was hardly aware of what I had to say and his reply to my presentation was way off beam. He produced a string of cartoon reversals such as artists have used since paper got large enough to make cartoons.

(I will explain again the difference between the two reversals; just in case the professor bothers to check out this blog. A cartoon or print reversal is that made by printing off a plate as in etching or turning over the paper for a cartoon. Piero della Francesca’s two angels in the Madonna del Parto at Monterchi are probably the most famous example of cartoon reversals. Mirror reversals are much less easily recognized as they do not contain the simple symmetry of the cartoon reversal. The examples in www.saveRembrandt.org.uk are the best ones known. I was the first to discover those about 300 years after they were done.)

MadonnadP

Madonna del Parto at Monterchi

We were talking about two different things. When I pointed this out he seemed genuinely baffled, he did not understand. He was really rattled and accused me of having just one bee in my bonnet for 40 years about mirrors, whereas he was a Rembrandt scholar!. “I beg your pardon” I said and enumerated a number of my discoveries and pointed to a supply of my brochures for The Museum of Artists’ Secrets on the table in front of him. He apologized and congratulated me, not altogether sincerely, I thought.

At another point he started to say that I would take his cartoon reversals for mirror images. I had to intervene to say please do not guess at what I would think, I have never said any such thing. At another point he told me I hated art historians. I hope I answered that I had good reason to. Though we have met twice before he was so confident that he could bulldoze me that he had not bothered to do any homework. Fortunately many of the audience had. He claimed to know my Burlington article (Feb 1977) but he clearly had not understood that it undermined the foundations of the scholars’ view of Rembrandt.

It was a clash of David and Goliath, afterwards I trembled with the excitement that the biblical hero must have felt. It was a great evening. I took an informal consensus after and found only one of the 25 or so people present seem to think Goliath had won. Most were really excited by my insights. There were publishers and journalists present so I can only hope that something of that excitement will get into the public domain. Above all I hope my book on Rembrandt will at last get published. It was written and accepted by Phaidon in 1978 but when the heinous reader’s report came through from an anonymous Rembrandt scholar, Phaidon dropped it and ran, not waiting for my response. Nor would any other publisher risk it at that time.

Surely now that the RRP has collapsed and the scholars of the drawings have made such fools of themselves at the Getty; now must be the time to publish. The public is anxiously awaiting a new view of the splendid, unique, Rembrandt: the most innovative artist of all time and the most human.

************

If anyone took a video of the encounter described above it would be fun to put a little film together for my next DVD.

I forgot to mention I am running a course at Verrocchio, from the 1-14 July to initiate the long overdue reform of Art History. There are still places available (see this site for details).