Saturday, March 23, 2019

Looking for Rembrandt - on BBC4 in April

BBC4 is marking the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt's death by telling his story from how own perspective - despite the fact he fell on hard times towards the end of his life and left no diaries and fewer than 10 letters!

crop of a Self-portrait c. 1628 by Rembrandt van Rijn, (painted age 22)
oil on panel, h 22.6cm × w 18.7cm
It's an experiment with light - and his curls are drawn in the wet paint with the butt end of his paintbrush

Looking for Rembrandt

Looking for Rembrandt is a BBC Four documentary told in 3 one hour episodes starting Tuesday 9th April. It's uniques insofar that the story is told via fragments of information about him in:
  • Amsterdam’s civic and legal archives
  • his 90 self-portraits
  • his many different paintings, etchings, and drawings
It will have a curious cast of characters providing information - including art collectors, art restorers, hand surgeons, security consultants, insolvency lawyers, novelists, curators and graffiti artists. 

The actor Toby Jones provides the voice of the artist as the series explores how such a great artist who was at one point the darling of Dutch high society could finally end up buried as a poor man in an unknown grave in the Westerkerk.

Critical questions are addressed:
  • How could an artist made rich by the patronage of Amsterdam’s wealthiest elite come to declare bankruptcy? 
  • Why did he fall out of favour at a time when he was painting his greatest masterpieces?
In the first of three episodes we learn how Rembrandt arrived in Amsterdam ‘like a thunderclap’ and was courted by the city’s wealthy elite, before falling into conflict with the city’s most powerful patrons. Jones explores the highs and lows of Rembrandt’s personal life too: from the new-found riches enjoyed with his wife, Saskia van Uylenburgh, to the tragedies that unfolded before him, leading to some of his most celebrated work.

Self-portrait, Etching at a Window, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1648
etching, h 160mm × w 130mm

Biography of Rembrandt

There's also a new biography of Rembrandt by Jonathan Bikker the curator of the new exhibition All the Rembrants at the Rijkmuseum
In Rembrandt: Biography of a Rebel, takes us on a journey past all of the ups and downs of Rembrandt’s life in seventeenth century Leiden and Amsterdam. With humour, insight and compassion, he shows us Rembrandt’s genius and the novelty of his works, and brings the artist back to life – you will not get any closer to Rembrandt than this.
Title: Rembrandt: Biography of a Rebel
Author: Jonathan Bikker
Design: Irma Boom
Price: €25
ISBN: Dutch 9789462084742
English: 9789462084759

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