The legend of the artist hidden behind the “expensive” self-portrait

  Rembrandt (full name Rembrandt Harmanson van Rhein) was born in Leiden, the Netherlands. His father was a wealthy miller. The Netherlands in the 17th century was a new capitalist country. Protestant Dutch people did not like exaggerated Baroque art. There is little market for large-scale historical paintings in the local area, while portraits and still life paintings are very popular. Some wealthy citizens like to collectively invest. The painter makes group portraits.
  ”Professor Dupp’s Anatomy Lesson” is a portrait of Rembrandt commissioned by the Amsterdam Surgeons’ Guild. Group portraits are similar to today’s group photos. However, Rembrandt does not like rigid composition. He intends to refer to the composition of historical paintings and let portraits “tell the story.” He cleverly conceived the scene of the professor’s lecture: students gathered around the dissection table and listened carefully to the professor’s explanation. In the painting, the students behind the professor hold a piece of paper in their hands, as if it were classroom lecture notes. In fact, the names of all the funders are written in it. This piece of suspiciously superfluous paper is the painter’s last resort-everyone contributed together, but some were in the close-up view of the picture, some were at the edge of the picture, some were facing the audience, some only showed their side faces, and the brightest part of the picture was It’s a corpse. Rembrandt had to add a list in order to weigh the interests of artistic taste and discerning patrons.

Self-portrait, oil on canvas, Rembrandt, 1659, Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington

  ”Professor Dupp’s Anatomy Lesson” made Rembrandt famous in one fell swoop, after which he married the daughter of a wealthy businessman, Shakespeare, and reached the pinnacle of life. A silver-tip pen sketch created in 1633 records the artist’s engagement scene. Rembrandt wrote on the work: “Today is June 8, 1633, the third day of our engagement. This painting is based on me. His wife was 21 when he was 21 years old.” The silver-tip pen is more difficult to draw and cannot be changed once the pen is drawn. Therefore, the artist is required to write accurately. In this small painting, the artist carefully drew the features of his wife’s appearance-Shakespeare in the painting is wearing a straw hat, she is holding her face in one hand, and holding flowers in the other, as if she had just come from the wild. After returning, Shaskia, who was in love, showed his attachment and admiration for the painter. Rembrandt and his wife have a very good relationship. In 1634, “The Painter and His Wife Shakespeare”, the painter wears gorgeous costumes and raises a glass to himself in the mirror. Shakespeare sits on her husband’s lap. Smiling and looking in the mirror. At this time Rembrandt had become a famous portrait painter in Amsterdam, and orders flew like snow flakes. He bought a house to collect art and antiques.
  ”Night Watch” is Rembrandt’s most famous work. The full name of this painting should be “Amsterdam’s Second District Militia under the leadership of Captain Frans Benning Kirk”. The picture was not originally a night scene, because The varnish on the surface of the painting is old and dark, making people mistakenly think it is a night patrol. Today, the name of “Night Watch” replaces the original long painting name and is widely known. Although every member of the militia paid for this huge painting, Rembrandt did not treat them equally in the painting: Captain Frans Benning Kirk occupies the center of the picture, and he is right in front of him. The deputy captain in yellow clothes was talking; some of the other team members in the painting were hidden in the shadows, and some showed only half of their faces; a naughty little girl inadvertently rushed into the patrol team and became the focus of the picture. Rembrandt indirectly accepted the influence of Caravaggio’s art through the Utrecht School of Painting and became a generation of “light” masters. In “Night Watch”, Rembrandt wanted to create a work of art full of movement and light and shadow effects, rather than a simple group portrait.

The painter and his wife Shakespeare, oil on canvas, Rembrandt, 1634, Collection of the National Gallery in Dresden

Night Watch Oil on Canvas Rembrandt 1642 Collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

  Throughout history, art sponsorship activities have run through the development of Western art. Patrons are the initiators and sponsors of artistic creation. They provide artists with funds, works themes, and even conceive works. The painters complete the works according to the wishes of the patrons. In order to protect the interests of both parties, at the beginning of the art sponsorship event, the two parties signed a contract. It was not until the 19th century that the modern concept of “artist” was born, which completely changed the traditional sponsorship model. In the 17th century, Dutch artists “one step ahead”. They sold their works through the open art market. This “adventure” forced them to follow the market’s laws of supply and demand—they might have made a lot of profits because their works were welcomed by the market. May be abandoned by the market and unable to support the family. Rembrandt experienced such dramatic ups and downs in his life.

Portrait of Shakespeare, Rembrandt, 1634, Collection of the National Museum, Berlin

  The controversy about Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” has become a famous public case in art history. Some people say that Rembrandt was too concerned about the drama of the picture and ignored the needs of the team members who were painted in the shadows, causing the patrons to refuse to accept the work, the painter’s reputation was damaged, and the painter was heavily in debt. In fact, the change of taste in the art market caused his works to be no longer welcome, and his life fell into trouble. In 1642, Rembrandt’s wife Shakeskeah died, leaving him with a considerable inheritance, but at this time Rembrandt’s reputation began to decline. 14 years later, the creditor auctioned his house and collections. Rembrandt died in 169, leaving only some shabby clothes and painting tools.

Professor Dupp’s anatomy class, oil on canvas, Rembrandt, 1632, Mauritz House Museum, The Hague

  Rembrandt’s life is extremely diligent, leaving nearly a thousand works, including a large number of self-portraits, these self-portraits are also the best footnote to the ups and downs of Rembrandt’s life. Rembrandt’s early self-portraits were a bit pompous in both his manners and costumes—he wore high-end costumes and expensive gold necklaces to show the audience his well-groomed beard. However, Rembrandt’s self-portraits at the end of his life tended to be frank and straightforward. He didn’t even mind letting the audience face his aging face. He scanned himself in the mirror with sharp eyes, observing the secrets of human appearance. Telling about his loneliness and suffering, this is also the wonderful feature of Rembrandt’s portraits. These portraits may not be beautiful, but they are interesting and moving.