The adventures and the misadventures of the world's most famous Old Master Rembrandt is the most modern of the Old Masters. In this series, his life and adventures in seventeenth-century Amsterdam are a reflection of the lives of all struggling artists, today as well as yesterday.
TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO, Pliny the Elder, an ancient Roman writer, warned his readers that artists were best avoided; unpleasant people, thieves and grave robbers. Despite the romantic aura that artists acquired at the hands of nineteenth-century French writers, their existence in the two millennia since Pliny has frequently been short and brutal. Anthony Flinck, father of the artist Govert who worked as a journeyman with Rembrandt about 1633-35, was strongly convinced that his son's chosen trade would inevitably condemn him to a life of loose women and strong drink. It is perhaps understandable that some artists of Rembrandt's era, including Govert Flinck himself and Jan Steen, took the easy way out and married into money. Steen ran a licensed premises in Rembrandt's birthplace Leiden, an indication of the superior profits to be derived from a tavern.
The Adventures of Rembrandt are available for book illustrations, annual reports, paper and packaging, giftware, Rembrandt-related products. You can license them in the following format:Original transparencies in 6 x 6 cm. (2¼ in.) format, high-resolution RGB drum scans on Cd or efficient and quick FTP upload.
There is an immense void between the pecuniary value of a Rembrandt and the paintings of his colleague and studio collaborators, first-rate artists the likes of Jan Lievens, Willem Drost, Govaert Flinck, and the legendary Carel Fabritius. The latter?s paintings were often attributed to Rembrandt van Rijn. The rights Rembrandt acquired when he took on apprentices makes the identification of genuine works by the master very complicated. The apprentice?s Articles of Indenture allowed him to sign his students? paintings as being by his own hand. This created much subsequent confusion, the Rembrandt signature on a painting might be genuine but not the artist. The dress of Rembrandt's clients or protagonists as in the figure to the right, is usually contemporary 20th century and later.
Two Clients of Rembrandt have waited so long for him to finish their portrait that they have aged visibly in the meantime. Rembrandt was notoriously difficult to deal with and patrons who commissioned portraits had to be prepared to wait many years and endure innumerable sittings before he would complete the painting. (It is a fault to which, later, Cezanne was subject). When the Sicilian nobleman, Don Antonio Ruffo finally, after long delays, received, Aristotle with the bust of Homer he had commissioned from Rembrandt he discovered that the artist had painted it onto a support put together from a patchwork of odd-sized linen strips. The artist had sewn together scraps of canvas to make up a bigger canvas. It is no surprise, therefore, that when the client finally received the portrait of himself his wife or member of his family it would be rejected because the likeness was unsatisfactory, or the style of clothes the sitter is wearing had gone out of fashion. This, (in the case, say, of the portrait of a young girl) was to be expected when the execution had taken, maybe, six or more years to complete. In the Rijksmuseum's, Bartholomeus van der Helst 1642, Portrait of Andries Bicker the subject is wearing a millstone white collar. A later portrait of his son, Gerard Bicker is wearing a flat collar. It seems that, in this example, Rembrandt has spent rather too long on painting the perfect portrait.
The Night Watch of 1642 began the slow decline in Rembrandtâ€™s fortunes. It was the period when Geertje Dircx who, hired to look after his infant, Titus, put pressure on him to marry her and, eventually, took him to court in 1649 for breach of promise. In settlement, Rembrandt paid Geertje a life pension; this, coinciding with a slowdown of painting commissions, aggravated his already deteriorating financial circumstances. In 1653 under threats of repossession the artist was forced to take out short-term high-interest-bearing loans to pay off the owner of his home. Unable to meet the notes as his various creditors called them in, bailiffs seized his property, including the house, his collection of Old Masters and his own paintings and drawings. In subsequent bankruptcy proceedings the prices realized by the various sales were insufficient to pay off the money he owed.
An elderly and bearded Rembrandt, pavement artist, practices his trade beneath the classical colonnades of Gandon’s ancient Irish House of Parliament, now the bank of Ireland in Dublin. Incessant soft Irish showers discourage painting outdoors . However, Rembrandt has chosen his work-site astutely; it is protected and, being in the centre of the city, much trafficked by pedestrians. This genial location guarantees him a steady income, if an exiguous existence. In in mid-20th century Dublin children, suspected of displaying undesirable artistic tendencies were shown example of pavement artists working in this spot as the unpleasant future likely to await them should they choose to become artists.
The young Rembrandt suffers unnecessary and unwanted advice from curious onlookers, the fate of all artists who work outdoors.
Rembrandt, banging on the window of the locked gallery, is attempting to gain entrance to show examples of his new paintings while the director and staff hide from him around a corner.
The scene takes place in the luxurious interior of Monte-Carlo’s legendary Casino. The building, built in 1863, with its fin-de-siècle gold and bronze architecture and gilt stucco reliefs is the work of the architect Charles Garnier, designer of the Paris Opera and numerous churches, private villas and public buildings along the French and Italian Riviera. The rich golden Rembrandt-like tints of the background act as a foil to the green baize of the table and overhead lamps that frame the desperate Rembrandt and his assortment of pictures.
Based on a scene from the English comedian, Tony Hancock's 1960 classic film of an outsider The Rebel. Before moving from his London bedsitter Hancock’s chef d’oeuvre the massive marble Aphrodite at the Waterhole, goes through the ceiling of the flat below. In the background is Rembrandt’s Danae now in the Hermitage. In June 1985 it was attacked and severely damaged with sulphuric acid and slashed by a fanatic It required over a dozen years of meticulous conservation to save one of the museum’s most significant masterpieces.
Mindful of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, the road movie of its day, his wife has Rembrandt securely tied up, like Ulysses, to prevent him succumbing to the Siren call of his young and attractive model.
A guard explains to the young onlooker that the mafia steals only genuine Old Masters.
The general composition, the light streaming in from the right and illuminating the subject, is inspired by Caravaggio’s, The Calling of Saint Matthew in the Rome church San Luigi dei Francesi. Numerous thefts, attributed to the Mafia, of Old Master painting took place in Italy in the latter part of the 20th century. One of the most clamorous was the theft, in 1969, apparently to use it as a form of barter between different Sicilian criminal clans, of another Caravaggio, The Nativity with Saints Laurence and Francis belonging to the church of San Lorenzo in Palermo and never recovered.
During a vernissage of his paintings the ladies of the free gallery cocktail circuit, the soup kitchens of the middle classes, embrace and worship an embarrassed and irritated Rembrandt.
The attractive young model is surrounded by students of art, voyeurs of different sexes who obviously are talentless while Rembrandt encourages her to hang on in there, and think of the money.
Rembrandt beneath the columns of the ancient Irish house of parliament, now a hotel, and propositioning, for strictly artistic purposes, a somewhat baffled young woman. In the background, the Georgian façade of the University of Dublin. The painting’s title, Underneath the Arches, refers to the song by Flanagan and Allen, English music-hall artists of the 1930s and 40s.
Rembrandt is painting a girl balancing on a prancing white horse. The gorilla looking over his shoulder happily chomps on the artist's paint tubes. The broken chain around his ankle shows he has escaped from his cage at Monte-Carlo zoo, visible in the background.
Rembrandt in the midst of the desolation left by burglars who stole everything except his paintings. The manner in which most people value artists and view their creations is symbolized by the thief who, in the 1990s, broke into the British artist David Hockney’s residence. With a grasp of art economics most painters only dream of, he chose to steal electronic household objects only, disregarding completely the original Hockneys on the walls.
Because of the poor economic climate, Rembrandt is, temporarily, working as a house painter.
Rembrandt rushed by a jealous bull; one of the many problems artists experience painting outdoors. The difficulty of painting outdoors is described in various paintings in The Adventures of Rembrandt; The Pavement Artist, Rembrandt en Plein-Air, The reasons Rembrandt is not known to have attempted cattle paintings may lie in the subject’s relative lack of importance in Renaissance art. Figure painting was considered a nobler art form requiring greater skills than that of the andscape or genre painter. The painting’s landscape is of the north county Dublin countryside. The bull dragging Rembrandt along with him refers to to Carlo Maratta’s painting, The Rape of Europa that the artist restored at the National Gallery of Ireland
Rembrandt’s model is preoccupied that he is abandoning the classical style for that of a modern Dutch painter Mondrian. The image of a young woman holding a cornucopia, a horn filled with flowers, fruits, and vegetables and a symbol of fertility and abundance developed in ancient Greek art. It is used frequently in Dutch and Flemish painting of the 17th century. The painting’s composition is based on the drawing by Samuel van Hoogstraten*, Young artist painting the portrait of a couple, circa 1640. 93rd. exposition du Cabinet des dessins, Musée du Louvre 1988 – 89.
Rembrandt exits an art gallery having learned that the market for his style of painting is past.
Rembrandt goes to extraordinary lengths to capture the graceful beauty of the trapeze artist’s movement. The Dutch Old Master, in the manner of Degas, is attempting to capture the gracious movements of the girl on the trapeze. He considers himself, above all, a realist. This was the label that Thomas Couture attached to certain of his contemporaries, Corot included. He recognized that this obsession with realism was leading to the loss of the classical tradition and the lesson of the High Renaissance. Couture expressed his opinion on the dangers of naturalism in The Realist Artist now in the National Gallery of Ireland.
Chinese hand-made oil paintings have destroyed the livelihood of local artists. Traditional artists no longer are able to compete. Rembrandt finds himself sitting under the fortified wall of the medieval Principality of Monaco. The Rock on which the ancient buildings and Prince’s palace sit, appear above him. A background to the artists , seen painting below, is the red brick and granite stone steps of the Porte Neuve leading up into the fortress.
A dejected and suffering Rembrandt sits on the left comforted by his female companion. Behind them stands a Saint Veronica-like figure holding a towel, on which is represented the head of the ageing Rembrandt. In ancient artistic iconography Saint Veronica is a pious woman who bathed Christ’s face on the road to Golgotha to be crucified.
Four Chinese artists, wearing their hair dressed in the Manchurian-style, who appear to have relocated to Monaco, are painting views of its forbidding rock defenses. On the bottom right centre, where two of the Chinese artists are seated on a rock, is a tiny Pekinese, painted in a warm sepia-black tint. The terrier is lying, on his back legs in the air while regarding the viewer. Another artist is standing above him with paint brushes in his left hand. In his right he holds an open scroll with the artist’s signature in Chinese characters.
An ageing and disconsolate Rembrandt seated on the Escalier Daru entrance to the Louvre is accompanied by Gauguin, Toulouse Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh. In front of his Mona Lisa Leonardo, making Tour de France-winner gestures, is flanked by two maidens. The Italian Old Master and his masterpiece, surrounded by security guards, are being assailed by admirers and art lovers.
The Victory of Samothrace a classical statue of 220-190 BC, discovered on the homonymous Greek island sits at the head of the 1850s Escalier Daru. It forms part of the background framing Rembrandt van Rijn. Museum guards regard with suspicion the excluded and no longer fashionable Dutch master, unable, apparently, to gain entrance to the temple of beauty.
Rembrandt, is holding in his left hand his 1636 panel painting Susanna Bathing. In Matthew’s painting, the version Rembrandt holds is on canvas. To the right and partly blocking Susanna Bathing, is the artist’s faithful hound gazing mournfully into Rembrandt’s eyes. He has the typical characteristics of a stray, lean wiry and tan-coloured. The two female figures enclosing Rembrandt and his group are keening an Irish lament for the dead over the great Dutch master’s ill fortune.
Rembrandt down and out, with his paintings hanging from the railings of a Georgian square in Dublin.
The premature announcement of his death forces Rembrandt to work overtime in order to meet the increased demand for his paintings. Against a background of the ancient Roman monument, the Trophee des Alpes on the French Riviera Rembrandt’s wife and a friend watch the artist stretching a large canvas helped by Toulouse Lautrec. To her left is visible the edge of the Night Watch as it appeared while still in the artist’s studio before the Amsterdam local authorities sliced off this piece of the artist’s masterpiece in 1715.
Other artists lending Rembrandt a hand allowing him to profit from this unexpected piece of good fortune are a stressed out Vincent van Gogh, the elegantly dressed Peter Paul Rubens and in the foreground, Pablo Picasso. The Seville oranges at his feet also encircle Rembrandt’s faithful hound sleeping below a late Roman sarcophagus from the Palazzo Corsini alla Lungara in Rome. Matthew is at the top left, signing the painting.
The bathing Susannah, harassed by two Elders
While Rembrandt, who is painting her portrait, has his back turned, two lascivious characters amongst whom Gauguin and the artist importune and threaten Susannah, the virtuous wife of Joakim, saved in the nick of time by the prophet Daniel.
‘It sure is a relief, so it is, that my creditors don’t know I’ve escaped here and they can’t dun me for my debts ‘
Rembrandt is known to have disappeared from Holland after the 25th. October 1661 because of the shame and the stigma surrounding his recent bankruptcy. He turns up in the ancient Roman town of La Turbie, on the outskirts of Monte-Carlo in French Provence. He reappeared in Amsterdam on 28th.August 1662.