Sunday, June 26, 2016

More from Northern Europe at the National Gallery and Red 128

Rembrandt self portrait 1640
This week at The National Gallery it was all about the Dutch.

Now important and highly rated though he is some of the Rembrandts we looked at in The National Gallery earlier in the week left me a little cold, we started with a self portrait made when the artist was about 34 (I thought he looked older)

Rembrandt (1606 -69) considered very much one of the  Dutch masters and  has many works in the Gallery, they include his wife, biblical themes and his housekeeper (who may have been more than this), later work could almost be considered impressionistic showing brush strokes which can convey more than other more precise areas of colour.

The painting has  got none of the identifiers used by some artists to proclaim their trade and skills, in fact to my mind it's skilful but a bit too dull ands understated, nothing much going on in the background.  The face shows fine modelling and Rembrandt  does show his wealth by his 'quality' clothing  the pose harks back to Titan implying his artistic status to be at a similar level.

The artist undoubtedly successful  deploys merest flamboyance is deployed in showing Rembrandt leaning on a wall of sorts - probably used as a promotional tool to convince prospective commissioners of his abilities in

Other works from Rembrandt (below) include his wife Saskia Van Uylenburgh - who is wearing clothes that suggest a shepherdess - the picture it seems (to these modern eyes) is not unduly flattering to his wife's appearance.

Saskia Van Uylenburgh in Arcadian costume

Belshazzar's Feast

The painting of Belshazzar's Feast is more Baroque and shows high drama with characters illuminating the scene - it can be considered to show some influence  of Caravaggio's style.

The paintings of a member of his household (who bore him a child) Hendrickje Stoffels is a far more intimate picture than that of his wife and more tenderness is communicated here too - the adjacent work could also be of the same subject (here 'bathing in a stream').

portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels

And possibly again but here in a stream

Other works form this region and time we looked at were by Pieter de Hooch (1629 -84 so a little younger than Rembrandt) - A musical party in a courtyard was a superbly crated work with a finely framed figure ion the right hand side balancing the activity in some shade on the left.

Nearby is another painting by Pieter called A Woman Drinking with Two Men - this has some fine detail including a seemingly dead  'rodent' on the floor.

A musical party in a courtyard (1677)

A Woman Drinking with Two Men

Amongst the rich portraits we also looked at more bucolic landscapes with a strong Italian influence from the artist Aelbert Cuyp known as The large Dort (he did other similar countryside views too).

The Large Dort (1650 ish) by Aelbert Cuyp

Pieter de Hooch was more prolific than Vermeer (nearby is Vermeer's A young woman standing at a virginal from about 1670)  and thus his paintings are less sought after but he's (to my mind) a similarly skilled artist.

Delft had a massive explosion which is shown in a painting be Edgar van der Poel - A View of Delft after the Explosion of 1654 this painting uses what we'd called a wide landscape format and this gives the dramatic impression - shortened trees destroyed.
The explosion above Fabritius's work

Below this painting is a strangely sophisticated attempt to show a 3 dimensional picture  A View of Delft (this might have required a 'peepbox' to view it effectively)  from Carel Fabritus (A pupil of Rembrandt) who is said to have influenced De Hooch and Vermeer (this seems very likely within the small artistic community of Delft). 

The final picture we looked at was in the form of a work to ponder on in relation to death - A Memento Mori this was by the artist Harmen Steenwyck and is called 'An Allegory of the Vanities of Human Life'  - it's loaded with messages about how unimportant worldly goods are - but would be purchased by someone who was wealthy.

Red 128

In a popular retail outlet (ealing branch) I saw these stool type items

Those chair things you can sit on and use for trying on shoes

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