Rembrandt selfies

A band with the self-portrait of the master on the 350th anniversary of the death

It is the year the painter giants Death Days: Only 500 years Leonardo (May 2), then on October 4, 350 years Rembrandt van Rijn. Fitting occasion for the Taschen to bring out three big volumes to the work of this artist: One is dedicated to the graphic, another with the picturesque movement, and a third band, which only his self-portraits, so to speak, "Rembrandt selfies". Doc Baumann has watched it for you.

Rembrandts Selfies
"Rembrandt selfies": Rembrandt self-portrait of 1629

Let me start with how I discovered Rembrandt as a great artist. I must then have been as about 12 or 13 and spent many afternoons after school in the Kassel Museum. Time I looked at the stone-age tools, then I sat in front of the marble statue of Apollo and recorded them in my sketchbook, other days I wandered through the paintings department, admiring awe the tremendous oil painting with scenes that I barely understood.

Although this is now a half-century ago, I remember very well how I studied one day in the department of the old Dutch the Pearl necklace on the Portrait of a Lady - the reflections of light, the appearance of shine and dullness. By whom this painting came from, I do not remember.

A little later, I came across another large-format portrait with a young woman and, in turn, a pearl necklace, and again I looked closely at how the painter had depicted this with oil paint on the wooden board. I was fascinated! Between the two paintings were worlds apart. no no, of course pearls, but their - what was happened to me great in the first image, then faded completely to these beads virtuoso playing, They shone out of themselves - and they do not reflected the light of the curtain-shrouded museum window, but the one that had fallen a few hundred years in a studio in Amsterdam. I looked at the tag: "Rembrandt: Saskia van Uylenburgh in profile, in rich costume, 1633 / 34-1642", Of course I had heard of him in art class, Rembrandt "knows" it somehow, even without great to know something about him.

But now I had really discovered it for me and I understood why he had been a larger and better painter than that first portraits. I hurried back to the first painting in which I now everything seemed dull and flat, then back to Saskia. After that, I compared other image areas: the appearance of skin, hair, velvet, gold jewelry, a spring eye. I learned a lot about painting on that summer afternoon.


Rembrandt selfies

Because I remembered when I now my book "Rembrandt - The self-portraits" looked. It contains in chronological order all known 80 portraits - paintings, etchings and drawings. If someone as often represents himself, it seems likely that he was a very vain guy who - he lived today - certainly would constantly bring out his cell phone to take selfies his face.

However, the preface teaches us a lesson: Rembrandt's self-portraits were hardly any of these reasons, not even because he was able to refine a model in the mirror easiest picturesque techniques of representation of light and shade, of surfaces and materials to itself. Since he as a painter was already quite well known, there was a market for such pictures, a demand of buyers and admirers who wanted to own these paintings.

Each self-portrait is presented on a double page - left the whole picture, supplemented by title, year, technique, size and storage location - right size and page fills the cutout of the face. Especially at these magnifications can learn a lot about his work techniques; the study of the way as he continued his brushstrokes in paintings, is very suitable to learn for their own practice - even if we apply this method to the monitor, with ArtRage, Painter, Photoshop or other software.

Rembrandts Selfies
"Rembrandt selfies": Rembrandt self-portrait of 1658

Two critical remarks were finally allowed: The full-page (26 × 34 cm) renditions of the head sections are indeed quite interesting but uneven. So this area is 5 cm large etching taken from a 5 x on the same format as the one from twenty times as large paintings. The result: In (most) etchings the details are greatly enlarged (which is quite helpful) - in (most) paintings, however, they are far smaller than the original, which no longer allows a brushstroke-accurate playback and viewing.

is printed that the background of all pages, including the introduction of the essay with a altgoldfarbenen fund, while making a powerful impression of high quality. But as just the way it is with gold, it also reflects powerful, and that makes reading the lyrics a bit exhausting.

A nice idea is the way the cover design: On the cover fabric-covered sticks an oval Rembrandt self-portrait. Depending on the angle are there but four (if I counted correctly) to see portraits of the young to the aged painter. Made possible by the - also ertastenden - 3D lenticular printing, Elderly are aware of this procedure is still under the name "Wackelbildchen". A little irreverence may be - even against a painter genius like Rembrandt.


Volker Manuth, Marieke de Winkel: Rembrandt. The self-portraits, Taschen Verlag, Cologne 2019, 176 pages, hardback, large format, 50 Euro

Rembrandts Selfies
Cover of the German edition (one of several views)
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Hans Baumann

Doc Baumann is primarily concerned with installations (and their critics) and with the unmasking of image forgeries, also with digital graphic and pictorial techniques. In the media again and again as "Photoshop Pope" dubbed dedicated since 1984 to the digital imaging and writes since 1988 about it.

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