Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Four hundred years ago today, Rembrandt Harmenzoon van Rijn was born in Leiden, the Netherlands, and for the succeeding four centuries, those of who practice his craft have done our futile best to approach the bar he set. No painter before him or since surpassed his collective skills at drawing, perspective, composition, understanding of light, color and anatomy, and sensitive knowledge of gesture in the human face and body, nor has one showed more artistic courage. As a boy I spent many hours poring over a Bible owned by my parents that was richly illustrated with Rembrandt paintings. My earliest lessons at drawing and painting were my many sessions copying those illustrations. I could have asked for no better mentor. As I grow as an artist, I only appreciate better the enormity of his genius. Welcome to your fifth century, Meneer van Rijn! Here's gratitude for showing us what can be done with a canvas and brush.

upper: SELF PORTRAIT (1657) Rembrandt van Rijn
lower: SACRIFICE OF ISAAC (1653) Rembrandt van Rijn


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wicked! Thank you for sharing such a moving piece, one that captures all the passions of a single moment. I can definitely see Rembrandt's influence on your work, now.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Carel Brest van Kempen said...

Well thanks a lot, Karmen! There's no one else's influence I'd rather have you see. That "Sacrifice of Isaac" piece has always been one of my favorites. The complicated emotions you can see in Abraham's face, the powerful composition, and those dramatic value contrasts that were a hallmark of his...it all makes a painter realize what an infant he is.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really wish I knew more about art history. I have never had the pleasure of taking a class. I need to get out more. Thanks for sharing some knowledge about Rembrandt and his influence on you which is visible.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Carel Brest van Kempen said...

You know, I don't know much about art history, either (but I know what I like). I have the benefit of a brother with a Master's in fine art that I can turn to for consultation.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knowing what you like is almost enough. I'm the same way, even after taking years of art history classes. I think I have selective memory, and I can go on and on about my personal heros, but it's more difficult to talk about the relative voids in between and around. On day, maybe...

12:02 PM  
Blogger Carel Brest van Kempen said...

In reading your art reviews, I've seen little evidence of those voids.

9:59 AM  

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