Thursday, June 24, 2010

~~~~~~FINE ART WEDNESDAY ~~~~~~The Polish Rider by Rembrandt

"The Polish Rider by Rembrand van Rijn Frick Museum NY NY Picture and technical information courtesy WikipediaThe Polish Rider - A Lisowczyk on horseback. The subject is of much discussion. It is possible that the person depicted was Grand Chancellor of Lithuania, Marcjan Aleksander Ogiński (1632-1690)"*

*(all quotes from Wikipedia "Rembrandt" until such time as I can find more sourced material; please note; this is a blog entry in progress.)

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (July 15, 1606 – October 4, 1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher.

Good afternoon art fans! Today we will be discussing The Polish Rider by Rembrandt. When I went to New York, NY in the early eighties I was astounding to luck into the Frick museum. As I was casually walking around the 5th Avenue area. I do remember getting lost in Central Park which abutts 5th Avenue. Due to the fact I am under the weather; I will briefly describe this painting in less detail.

The painting is in the typical Rembrandt style of dramatic black and white (tone and tint) chiaroscuro or black and white technique favoured by artist of this time.

"Earlier 20th century connoisseurs claimed Rembrandt had produced over 600 paintings, nearly 400 etchings and 2,000 drawings.[26] More recent scholarship, from the 1960s to the present day (led by the Rembrandt Research Project)"*

The stark realism of the Rembrandt work is based in the natural landscape and the detail in clothing and facial features. The portrait are actual persons, family, commissioned portraits of persons of reknown.

Don't forget; the imagination was to be tamed somewhat. Art during the 1600's showed the opulence of the era; Holland was a very rich port of call for the world trade in all kinds of wares. The invention of photography had not been invented as yet, and the desire for portraits was a number one priority for Rembrandt's rich clientele. Art was a business, and an art, the artist having to have the finite technical skill of the old masters, steeped in Biblical iconography. The artist emerged during the Renaissance as showing the capability of craftsman, the craft became high art by it's sheer virtue in exacting quality.

Less of a statement, art reflecting the quality of life in the 1600's. Rembrandt and other painters of this time were concerned with achieving technical excellence. In this goal they did achieve a greatness. The scenes were dramatic, similar to the theatre of the time, the painted subjects look like they have been captured in a dramatic scene; Act I Scene ii of an Opera, for example. I will study this area in depth, as to the theatre, or Opera influence in Rembrandt. This will take some digging undoubtedly.

It was very important to capture the lives of those persons of reknown, the old rich and the newly rich, and to bring the Bible and other classic iconography into Rembrandt's contemporary world. Rembrandt could evoke very dramatic emotion in his works. Rembrandt did make his paintings huge, they would easily take up an entire wall of a drawing room for example. This larger than life approach to art is certainly dramatic, and this dramatic flair gives the works a super-human or godly quality.

The refinement in the technique of painting, Rembrandt having been apprenticed as a young man, and making a handsome living at his art. The rigid demands of excellence in painting must have been due to the high quality of the craft of painting, the techniques being so masterfully produced as to attain art. The fact that Rembrandt included the everyday person into his paintings, including his family and rich sponsor commissions. Maybe that is why the size of the paintings are so gigantic, considering how much value in quality and size. What amazing me is the mastery in the technique of the paintings, they are so rich, luminous layers of paint. Not sure as to how long it took to paint each work, but it certainly would take awhile for oil paint to dry between layers. It must have taken a year or more for each painting.

There is some dispute as to whether or not the Polish rider was actually painted by Rembrandt, it may have been painted by one of his students. There is a looser painterly style than the usual Rembrandt. This may be due to the fact that the student wanted to emulate his master, but have his own particular style of reknown. It may be that Rembrandt was challenging his own stylistic leanings and branch out from his usual stylized methods for this particular work. The debate continues.

the Following are some information on Rembrandt I found of particular interest. It will take a while to research Rembrandt obviously, so bare with me! I've will be back and discussing influence of other artists, etc. at a later time. For now, enjoy my skimmer post today!

Some interesting notes about Rembrandt's life and times, his influences, etc.

"One example of activity is The Polish Rider, in New York's Frick Collection. Its authenticity had been questioned years before by several scholars, led by Julius Held. Many, including Dr. Josua Bruyn of the Foundation Rembrandt Research Project, attributed the painting to one of Rembrandt's closest and most talented pupils, Willem Drost, about whom little is known. The Frick itself never changed its own attribution, the label still reading "Rembrandt" and not "attributed to" or "school of". More recent opinion has shifted in favor of the Frick, with Simon Schama in his 1999 book Rembrandt's Eyes, and a Rembrandt Project scholar, Ernst van de Wetering (Melbourne Symposium, 1997) both arguing for attribution to the master. Many scholars feel that the execution is uneven, and favour different attributions for different parts of the work.[59]"

The painting was the most impressive painting that I have noticed from all the old masters. The painting again, breathed a life of it's own. I can certainly tell that this masterful work was layered in meaning. Why this particular painting struck me I do not know. It just has a certain presense that is undeniable. It has a "WoW" factor of 9/10.

The FRick Museum is very interesting on it's own, and sort of creepy, being so old you get the feeling that the Frick family is watching your every move. Believe me, they are watching, with these ghost eyes coming from the top of the stairs; where a sign says "no admittance".

When you tour around the Frick Museum you will happen upon many great old masters. I will try to research this some more, but I remember the Metropolitian Museum of Art in New York also had a great number of old masters. El Greco's work, with it's elogation of figure was impressive. When you get to enjoy the fine art pieces, the wonderful old masters echo in time as to their particular values of their particular era.

"As a boy he attended Latin school and was enrolled at the University of Leiden"(

"Rembrandt was "apprenticed to a Leiden history painter, Jacob van Swanenburgh, with whom he spent three years.""*

"Rembrandt opened a studio in Leiden in 1624 or 1625, which he shared with friend and colleague Jan Lievens. In 1627
Rembrandt began to accept students, among them Gerrit Dou.[8]"*

"In 1629 Rembrandt was discovered by the statesman Constantijn Huygens, the father of Christiaan Huygens (a famous Dutch mathematician and physicist), who procured for Rembrandt important commissions from the court of The Hague. As a result of this connection, Prince Frederik Hendrik continued to purchase
his skill in representing emotions and attention to detail.[36] Stylistically, his paintings progressed from the early 'smooth' manner, characterized by fine technique in the portrayal of illusionistic form, to the late 'rough' treatment of richly variegated paint surfaces, which allowed for an illusionism of form suggested by the tactile quality of the paint itself"*

"His singular approach to paint application may have been suggested in part by familiarity with the work of Titian, and could be seen in the context of the then current discussion of 'finish' and surface quality of paintings. Contemporary accounts sometimes remark disapprovingly of the coarseness of Rembrandt's brushwork, and the artist himself was said to have dissuaded visitors from looking too closely at his paintings.[47] The tactile manipulation of paint may hearken to medieval procedures, when mimetic effects of rendering informed a painting's surface. The end result is a richly varied handling of paint, deeply layered and often apparently haphazard, which suggests form and space in both an illusionistic and highly individual manner.[48"*

"1631, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, then rapidly expanding as the new business capital of the Netherlands, and began to practice as a professional portraitist for the first time, with great success"*

"...should easily have been able to pay it off with his large income, but it appears his spending always kept pace with his income, and he may have made some unsuccessful investments.[13]"*

"It was there that Rembrandt frequently sought his Jewish neighbors to model for his Old Testament scenes.[14] Although they were by now affluent, the couple suffered several personal setbacks; their son Rumbartus died two months after his birth in 1635 and their daughter Cornelia died at just 3 weeks of age in 1638. In 1640, they had a second daughter, also named Cornelia, who died after living barely over a month. Only their fourth child, Titus, who was born in 1641, survived into aDuring Saskia's illness, Geertje Dircx was hired as Titus' caretaker and nurse and probably also became Rembrandt's lover. She would later charge Rembrandt with breach of promise and was awarded alimony of 200 guilders a year.[12] Rembrandt worked to have her committed for twelve years to an asylum or poorhouse (called a "bridewell") at Gouda, after learning Geertje had pawned jewelry that had once belonged to Saskia, and which Rembrandt had given her."*

"Saskia died in 1642 soon after Titus's birth, probably from tuberculosis. Rembrandt's drawings of her on her sick and death bed are among his most moving works.[15]
The two were considered legally wed under common law, but Rembrandt had not married Henrickje, so as not to lose access to a trust set up for Titus in his mother's will"*

"Rembrandt lived beyond his means," Who doesn't?

"In the late 1640s, Rembrandt began a relationship with the much younger Hendrickje Stoffels, who had initially been his maid. In 1654 they had a daughter, Cornelia, bringing Hendrickje a summons from the Reformed Church to answer the charge "that she had committed the acts of a whore with Rembrandt the painter". She admitted this and was banned from receiving communion. Rembrandt was not summoned to appear for the Church council because he was not a member of the Reformed Church.[16] The two were considered legally wed under common law, but Rembrandt had not married Henrickje, so as not to lose access to a trust set up for Titus in his mother's will."*

"Rembrandt painted himself as a character in the crowd. Durham Among the more prominent characteristics of his work are his use of chiaroscuro, the theatrical employment of light and shadow derived from Caravaggio, or, more likely, from the Dutch Caravaggisti, but adapted for very personal means.[34] Also notable are his dramatic and lively presentation of subjects, devoid of the rigid formality that his contemporaries often displayed, and a deeply felt compassion for mankind, irrespective of wealth and age. His immediate family—his wife Saskia, his son Titus and his common-law wife Hendrickje—often figured prominently in his paintings, many of which had mythical, biblical or historical themes"*

MORE TO FOLLOW FOLKS! BARE WITH ME! My ear is driving me to Miss DAisy's as I feel all the tornado activity in my ear! Not fun when there are 51 tornados in the states two days ago, and 60 yesterday! We had a tornado near here! Everything being added pressure and it puts me right under the weather; and that's not an idiom either.


  1. I was lucky enough to see a traveling exhibit of Rembrandt's works a few years ago. It was amazing.

    Batten down those hatches! Stay safe. I'm deathly afraid of tornadoes!

  2. @Willow: That would be fantastic! Yes, we are having a lot in our area lately, not only a declared state of emergency from a tornado in "Fair to Midland" but we have in the Muskokas and Toronto The G8, the G20, an earthquake 5.1 near Ottawa and now a storm forming in the Alantic and the BP Oil leak. I got the info on all those tornadoes from LJ (the hub). Maybe I will confirm this info in the future. That seems to be too many.
    Yes, I have been afeared of them dang tornados myself and I'm not from Kansas anymore;! Now it is all about vortexes (vortexi?) and magnetics, etc.
    A blogger I'm following; a physicist guy said that maybe microwaves could be used to stop the electrons from magnetically forming in the ionosphere or wherever. Now that will be a great improvement if it should work! Think my ear is a barometer for these things! Ouch! Hatches battened!