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Dutch 17th century painter and etcher
Rembrandt, 1628: 'Self-portrait at an early age', oil-painting on oak panel; current location: Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Kassel), Germany
Rembrandt, c. 1629: 'So-called [Self-]Portrait of Constantijn Huygens', oil-painting on panel (photo is in black-white); private collection - quote from Constantijn Huygens in his 'Autobiography': 'Rembrandt.. ..obsessed by the effort to translate into paint what he sees in the mind's eye, prefers smaller formats, in which he nonetheless achieves effects that you will not find in the largest works of others.'
Rembrandt, 1631: 'An Old Woman Reading, probably the Prophetess Hannah', oil-painting on oak panel; current location: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Rembrandt, 1632: 'Nude Woman Reclining', black chalk and white chalk on paper; current location: Nationalmuseum, Stockholm
Rembrandt, 1632: 'Philosopher in meditation', oil-painting on oak panel; current location: Louvre Museum, Paris - ('Richelieu', 2nd floor, room 31)
Rembrandt, 1632: 'The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Mauritshuis, room 9 - quote from the poem of Barleus: '...dumb integuments teach. Cuts of flesh, though dead, for that very reason forbid us to die. Here, while with artful hand he slits the pallid limbs, speaks to us the eloquence of learned Tulp: "Listener, learn yourself! and while you proceed through the parts, believe that, even in the smallest, God lies hid."'
Rembrandt, 1633: 'Portrait of Saskia van Uylenburgh' (his wife), oil-painting on panel; location: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam - Rembrandt's written quote under the portrait: 'This is portrayed after my wife when she was 21 years old, the third day after we were betrothed, on the 8th of June 1633 '
Rembrandt, 1633: 'The Storm on the Sea of Galilee', oil-painting on canvas; location unknown because this painting - with Rembrandt's only known seascape - was stolen in 1990 from Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston
Rembrandt, c. 1633: 'Man Kneeling', drawing on paper, technique is unknown; location: Städel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany
Rembrandt, 1633: 'Portrait of Johannes Wtenbogaert' - (a remonstrant preacher in Amsterdam), oil-painting on canvas; location: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Rembrandt, c. 1633: 'The Raising of the Cross' - second painting of Rembrandt's Passion Cycle for Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, oil-painting on canvas; current location: Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany - Rembrandt's quote in his letter to Huygens: ' ..that I am very diligently engaged in proficiently completing the three Passion paintings which his Excellency has personally commissioned me [to do]: an Entombment, a Resurrection, and an Ascension of Christ.. ' (Rembrandt painted himself in this painting, in blue)
Rembrandt, c. 1633: 'Five Studies of Heads' (front-page of a two-sided drawing), silverpoint on parchment; current location: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Rembrandt, c. 1633: 'The Descent of the Cross' - one of the three paintings of Rembrandt's Passion Cycle for Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, oil-painting on canvas; current location: Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany
Rembrandt, 1634: 'The Incredulity of St Thomas', oil-painting on oak panel; location: Pushkin Museum, Moscow
Rembrandt, 1633-35: 'The Entombment of Christ', oil-painting on oak panel; current location: Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glascow, Scotland
Rembrandt, c. 1634: 'Group of Listening Figures', drawing with pen, brown ink, brown wash and lead white on paper; location: Kupferstichkabinett – Staatliche Museum, Berlin
Rembrandt, c. 1635-38: 'The Entombment' - one of the three paintings of Rembrandt's Passion Cycle for Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange; oil-painting on oak panel; current location: Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany - Rembrandt's quote in his letter to Huygens [1]: '..that I am very diligently engaged in proficiently completing the three Passion paintings which his Excellency has personally commissioned me [to do]: an Entombment, a Resurrection, and an Ascension of Christ..'
Rembrandt, 1635-38: 'Belshazzar's Feast', oil-painting on canvas; current location: National Gallery, room 24
Rembrandt, 1641: 'The Mennonite Preacher [Cornelis] Anslo and his Wife', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, - quote on this painting in a short poem by Joost van den Vondel: 'Ah Rembrandt, do paint Cornelis' voice / His appearance is the least of him / The invisible one can learn by ear / Those wanting to see Anslo, must him hear'
Rembrandt, 1642: 'The Night Watch' (official title: The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburgh), oil-painting on canvas; location: Rijksmuseum room 12, Amsterdam
Rembrandt, 1640-49: 'Foot-washing by Jesus', a drawing in pen and brown ink on paper; location: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Rembrandt, c. 1648-50: 'Lion Lying Down', pen and brow ink, brown wash on paper; location: Département des Arts Graphiques - Louvre, Paris
Rembrandt & Hercules Seghers, c. 1653: 'The Rest on The Flight into Egypt' [2], etching, drypoint and burin, on paper; location: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet
Rembrandt, 1653: 'Aristotle with a Bust of Homer', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, room 637
Rembrandt, 1655: 'Abraham's Sacrifice', etching and dry-point on paper; location: National Gallery of Art, Washington, U.S.
Rembrandt, 1658: 'Self-portrait', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Frick Collection museum, Manhattan, New York City
Rembrandt, c. 1658: 'Lieven Willemsz. van Coppenol, Writing-master: the Larger Plate', etching, drypoint and burin on paper; location: Rijksmuseum, Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam - quote on this etching by a praise poem of J. Boogaard: 'Ah, Rembrant, be careful when you etch Coppenol / It is fraught with danger: the burin will slip from your hand / When your eyes feast on this calligraphy / Your stylus will lose all its power'

J. Boogaard, his praise on Rembrandt's etching of Lieven Coppenol, in Hollantsche Parnas - of Verscheide Gedichten gerijmt door J. Westerbaen, J. van Vondel, J. Vos, G. Brant, R. Anslo, door T. Domselaar verzamelt, Amsterdam 1660

Rembrandt, 1661: 'The Presentation in the Temple', drawing with pen and brown ink, brush, brown ink and white gouache on paper; location: National Library of the Netherlands, The Hague

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (15 July 16064 October 1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher, generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in history.


Quotes of RembrandtEdit

sorted chronologically, by date of the quote

1630 - 1640Edit

  • This is portrayed after my wife when she was 21 years old, the third day after we were betrothed, on the 8th of June 1633[3]
  • in original old Dutch: Dit is naer mijn huijsvrou geconterfeit do si 21 jaer oud was, den derden dach als wij getroudt waeren, den 8 junijus 1633
    • this short quote is Rembrandt's inscription under a drawing of his wife Saskia, 1633; as quoted in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work, by Ernst van de Wetering, Amsterdam University Press, 1997, p. 47
    • the short text is written at the bottom of a portrait - a drawing of his future wife Saskia Uylenburgh, Rembrandt did in silver-point on prepared vellum
  • A pious mind / Places honor above wealth - Rembrandt, Amsterdam 1634 [4]
  • original Dutch text, written by Rembrandt: Een vroom gemoet / Acht eer voor goet - Rembrandt, Amsterdam 1634 [5]
    • Rembrandt's short poem, 1634; on his own drawing of a lord with beard, very probably representing the court-master Burchard Grossmann in his 'album amicorum'
  • ...that I am very diligently engaged in proficiently completing the three Passion paintings which his Excellency has personally commissioned me [to do]: an Entombment [6], a Resurrection, and an Ascension of Christ... ...Of the above three, one has been completed, namely Christ's Ascension to Heaven, and the other two are more than half-finished... a token of my readiness to serve you with my favor, I cannot refrain from presenting you, [dear] Sir, my latest work. I trust that you most graciously will accept it in addition to my greetings... ...reside [on] Nieuwe Doelstraat [Amsterdam], Feb. 1636
  • original Dutch text, written by Rembrandt: ...dat ick seer naerstich / doende ben met die drie passij stucken voorts / met bequamheijt aftemaeken die sijn excellencij / my selfs heeft geordijneert, een grafleg/ugl/ ende een Verrijsenis en een Hemelvaert / Chrisstij. / De selvijge ackoordeeren met / opdoening en afdoeningen vant Chruijs Chrisstij. / Van welken drie vornomden / stuckens een van opgemaekt is daer / Chrisstus ten Heemel opvaert ende / die ander twee [schilderijen] ruym half gedaen sijn... ...En ken oock niet naerlaeten volgens mijn dienstwillijgen / gunst mijn heer te vereeren van mijn jonsten / werck vertrouwenden dat mij ten bessten sal / afgenoomen werder neffens mijne groeteenissen... ...[wonend] niuwe doelstraet [Amsterdam], Feb. 1636 [7]
    • Letter to Constantijn Huygens (Amsterdam, February 1636) on a Passion Cycle of 3 paintings, commissioned already in 1635 by the imperial court, as quoted in The Rembrandt Documents, Walter Strauss & Marjon van der Meulen - Abaris Books, New York 1979, p. 129.
    • What Rembrandt is referring to in his phrase "I cannot refrain from presenting you, [dear] Sir, my latest work." is very probably one or more recent etchings Rembrandt made.
  • My [dear] Sir: Let me first offer my kind regards. I agree that I should come soon to see how the picture accords with the rest. As regards the price, I certainly deserve 200 pounds for it, but shall be content with whatever His Excellency pays me. And if you, Sir, do not deem it presumptuous, I shall not neglect to requite the favor. Your humble and devoted servant Rembrandt - It [the picture] will show to [the] best advantage in His Excellency's gallery, since there it will be [displayed] in bright light.
    • Letter to Constantijn Huygens (Amsterdam, after February 1636) [8]
    • Rembrandt emphasizes here the urge for a place with bright light, necessary to view his painting well. Not certain is which painting by Rembrandt is meant here.
  • Because of the great zeal and devotion which I experienced in executing well the two pictures which His Highness commissioned me to make — the one being Christ's dead body being laid in the tomb ['The Entombment of Christ'][9], and the other Christ arising from the dead to the consternation of the guards — these same two pictures are now finished through studious application, so that I am now disposed to deliver the same and so to afford to His Highness. For in these two paintings the greatest and most natural movement has been expressed [and rendered], which is also the main reason why they have taken so long to execute.
  • original Dutch text, written by Rembrandt: Door die grooten lust ende geneegenheijt die ick gepleecght hebbe int wel wtvoeren van die twe/ stuckens die sijn Hoocheijt mijn heeft doen maeken weesende het een daer dat doode lichaem Chrisstij/ in den graeve gelecht werd ende dat ander/ daer Chrisstus van den doode opstaet dat met/ grooten verschrickinge des wachters. Dees selvij/ twe stuckens sijn door stuijdiose vlijt nu meede/ afgedaen soodat ick nu oock geneegen ben om die/ selvijge te leeveren om sijn Hoocheijt daer meede/ te vermaeken want deesen twe sijnt daer die meeste/ ende die naetuereelste beweechgelickheijt . in/ geopserveert is dat oock de grooste oorsaeck is dat/ die selvijge soo lang onder handen sij geweest. - in margin: deessen 12 Januwarij 1639, Mijn heer ik woon op die binnenemster, thuijs is genaemt die suijckerbackerrij [in Amsterdam]. [10]
    • Letter to Constantijn Huygens (Amsterdam, 12 January 1639) on 3 paintings commissioned (in 1635 and started by Rembrandt already in 1635/36) by the imperial court, as quoted in Painters on Painting (1963) by Eric Protter, p. 78 / Dutch original text in The Rembrandt Documents, Walter Strauss & Marjon van der Meulen - Abaris Books, New York 1979, p. 161.
    • What Rembrandt meant in his phrase "die meeste ende di naetuereelste beweechgelickheijt" has been the subject of dispute. Variant translations have been proposed:
  • For in these two paintings "the greatest and most innate emotion has been expressed", which is also the main reason why they have taken so long to execute (c. 3 years!).
  • The "deepest and most lifelike emotion has been expressed", and that's the reason they have taken so long to execute.
  • I have read your pleasant letter of 14th with singular pleasure. I discern your kind inclination and affection which I feel deeply obliged to requite [you] with service and friendship. Because of [my] inclination to do this, [and] in spite of your wish (of Constantijn Huygens], [I] am sending [you] along [with this letter] a painting, hoping that you will accept it, because it is the first momento which I offer you, Sir... ...postscripttum]: My [dear] Sir: hang this picture in a bright light and in such a manner that it can be viewed from a distance. It will then sparkle at its best.
  • original Dutch text, written by Rembrandt: ...soo ist door [mijn] geneegentheijt [voor Huygens de raadspensionaris] tot sulx tegens mijns/ heeren begeeren dees bijgaenden douck toesenden [ bij de brief]/ hoopende dat u mijner in deesen niet versmaeden/ sult want het is die eersten gedachtenis/ die ick aen mijn heer laet./... ...[postscriptum]: Mijn heer hangt dit stuck op een starck licht en dat men daer wuijt ken afstaen soo salt best voncken.
    • 5th Letter to Constantijn Huygens (Amsterdam, 27 January 1639), as quoted in The Rembrandt Documents, Walter Strauss & Marjon van der Meulen - Abaris Books, New York 1979, p. 167.
    • What Rembrandt is referring to is a little painting he sent Huygens as a gift together with his letter. This quote clarifies Rembrandt's option about the light and distance, necessary for showing his painting and its colors in the right way.

1640 - 1670Edit

  • For some variation it would be better
    to place the donkey seen from behind
    [to avoid] all faces looking out of the picture [forward]
    And the tree could also have more foliage.
    1. Joseph has been portrayed too fat and too recklessly
    2. Mary should hold the child more gently
    because a vulnerable child can't stand being held so firmly
    Joseph is too short fat - his head is growing from his trunk
    and both [Joseph & Mary] their heads are too big

  • original: Beeter waert dat (om de veranderin)
    den eesel van achteren was / dan dat al de
    hoofden iuist wt het stuck sien
    dat oock omtrent die boom wat meerder
    groente was
    1 iosep heft alte swaer en te onbesuist
    2 maria most het kindeken wat meerder vieren
    want een teeder kint magh sulck duwen niet ve[elen?]
    iosep alte kort en dick / syn hooft wast hem wt de [romp?]
    sij hebben alle beide al te groote koppen [11]
    • Rembrandt's comments on a drawing of 'The Rest on the Flight into Egypt', by Samuel van Hoogstraten (c. 1643)
    • Dresden museum, Kupferstichkabinett - author: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn - Object: 'The Rest on the Flight into Egypt', Inventory number: C 1443 [document/remdoc/e4525]
  • Try to put well in practice what you already know; and in so doing, you will in good time, discover the hidden things which you now inquire about. Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know. By following carefully the rules of teachings provided that they are truthful, you can save a lot of time. But a student full of doubt is unable to move forwards and to judge well the truth.
  • original in old-Dutch: Schikt u daer nae, dat gy 't geene gy alreets weet, wel leert in 't werk stellen, zoo zult gy de verborgentheden, daer gy nu na vraegt, tijts genoeg ontdekt zien...
    • English text: As quoted in A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, both Ancient and Modern (1908) by Tryon Edwards, p. 131.; second part, transl. by F. Heijnsbroek
    • Dutch text: Samuel van Hoogstraten, 1678 [12]; as quoted by W.Gs Hellinga, Rembrandt fecit 1642: de Nachtwacht, Gysbrecht van Aemstel', J.M. Meulenhoff, Amsterdam 1956, p. 4
    • Rembrandt is teaching his student Samuel van Hoogstraten (c. 1642), [according to W. Gs. Hellinga]
  • As seen from the Weighing House, the Town Hall of Amsterdam / after it was burnt down. / July, the 9th 1652. / Rembrandt van Rijn.[Rembrandt The Ruins of the Old City Hall in Amsterdam (After the Fire). [Rembrandt The Ruins of the Old City Hall in Amsterdam (After the Fire).[13]
  • * original in old-Dutch: Van d'waech af te sien statshuis van Amsterldam / doen 't afgebrandt was. / Den 9 july 1652. Rembrandt van Rijn.
    • Autograph inscription on Rembrandt's drawing of the old city hall, 9 July 1652 (Benesch 1278)
    • Rembrandt made this drawing two days after the old Town-hall at Dam square in Amsterdam was burned out; the spotlight attracted a lot of attention and various artists have drawn the remains of the historic building. Two days after the fire, Rembrandt laid down the ruins of the building in a drawing. He made the sketch on the spot, standing or seated at (or in) the old daring building on the Dam, as he himself wrote in the inscription. [14]
  • [...that he] would not touch the painting, nor finish it unless the claimant pays him the balance due or guarantees it by giving a security.
    • from a notary document, 1654 (location: RD, 1654/5, 310); as quoted in Rembrandt's Eyes, Simon Schama, Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books, New York 1999, p. 569 - note 7
    • Rembrandt is rejecting the demand of the Portuguese Jewish merchant Diego d'Andrade, who rejected in 1654 the portray of his daughter which Rembrandt was painting, as "showing no resemblance at all to the head of the young daughter". D'Andrade demanded that Rembrandt immediately take up his brushes and finish the work to his satisfaction
  • in order to etch, take white turpentine oil, and add half the turpentine to it; pour the mixture into a small glass bottle and let it boil in pure [?] water for half an hour.
    • his 'recipe for a stopping-out varnish' on the verso of a drawing 'Landcape with a River and Trees', undated, c. 1654-55; (Benesch 1351) [15]
    • It is evident that Rembrandt refers (alas fragmentarily) to a so-called 'stopping-out varnish', used to terminate the bite of acid in select areas of a plate that had already been exposed to the etching agent. Thus other portions will remain exposed to the acid to deepen the bite. Also Samuel van Hoogstraten, the first student of Rembrandt in Amsterdam, mentions the use of such a varnish in his 'Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoolde der Schilderkunst', Middelburg 1671 / Rotterdam 1678
  • I am most astonished by what has been written about the [painting] 'Alexander', which is so well done that I must suppose there are not many lovers of art [amatori] at Messina. I am also surprised that Your Lordship [Don Antonio Ruffo] should complain as much about the price as about the canvas, but if Your Lordship wishes to return it as he did the sketch [schizzo] of Homer, I will do another Alexander... ...If Your Lordship likes the Alexander as is, very well. If he does not want to keep it, six hundred florins remain outstanding. And for the Homer five hundred florins plus the expenses of canvas, it being understood that everything is at Your Lordship's expense. Having agreed to it, would he kindly send me his desired measurements. Awaiting the response to settle the matter.
    • In his letter, Nov/Dec. 1662, to buyer Don Antonio Ruffo from Messina, Sicily (location: RD, 1662/12, 509); as quoted in Rembrandt's Eyes, Simon Schama, Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 591, & notes 32-36
    • Rembrant's reaction after complaints of Don Antonio Ruffo, dispatched through the Dutch consul in Messina, Jan van den Broeck, who was on his way to Amsterdam. Once there he was to inform Isaac Just (presumably the intermediary between Rembrandt and the Messina patrician), of the intense dissatisfaction at the work, which Don Ruffo had received. 'The Alexander', he complained, being unacceptably stitched together from four separate pieces, showed seams which were 'too horrible for words.'...g with so many defects.. (Don Ruffo already bought Rembrandt's painting Aristotle with a Bust of Homer c. 1655 and still existing: [16], but 'The Alexander' of Rembrandt is lost).
  • Anno 1659 / On Wednesday, May 14 / You are requested to attend the funeral of / Aegtje Nachtglas / daughter of the late Jacob Pietersz / Nachtglas / at the Cleveniers-Doele [Amsterdam] at one o'clock. Come as friend of the house / Nieuwe-Kerck. [Verso] So eager to catch Christ out in his answer that they could not wait for written reply.
    • Inscription on Rembrandt's drawing [17] of 'Christ and the Woman taken into Adultary', on back of a funeral ticket, after May 1659; (Benesch 1047)
    • Gary Schwartz states in his 'Core list of Rembrandt drawings' - section 2: with inscriptions in Rembrandt's handwriting other than a signature: 'The authenticity of the drawing was called into question by Giltaij 2003, whose opinion is not shared by others, including myself' at the bottom
  • The Ground of Rinebrant of Rine: Take half an ounce of Expoltum burnt of Amber, one ounce of Virgin's was, half an ounce of Mastick, then take the Mastick and Expoltum, and beat them severally very fine in a Mortar; this being done, take a new earthen pot and set upon it a charcoal-fire, then shake into it the Mastick and Expoltum by degrees, stirring the Wax about till they be thoroughly mingled, then pour it forth into fair water and make a ball of it, and use it as before mentioned, but be sure you do not heat the plate too hot when you lay the ground upon it, this is the only way of Rinebrant.
    • Rembrandt's etching recipe [18], in 'The Whole Art of Drawing', Alexander Browne, London 1660, p. 106
    • Strauss & Van der Meulen 1979, p. 476, RD 1660/29: 'This recipe, specifically attributed to Rembrandt, for preparing the ground of a plate for etching is given by Alexander Brown in 'The Whole of Drawing'

Quotes, Rembrandt undatedEdit

  • I can't paint the way they want me to paint and they know that too.
    Of course you will say that I ought to be practical and ought to try and paint the way they want me to paint. Well, I will tell you a secret. I have tried and I have tried very hard, but I can't do it. I just can't do it! And that is why I am just a little crazy.
    • As quoted in R.v.R. : Being an Account of the Last Years and the Death of One Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn (1930) by Hendrik Willem van Loon
  • Choose only one master — Nature.
    • As quoted in Rembrandt Drawings (1975) by Paul Némo, as translated by David Macrae
  • Painting is the grandchild of nature. It is related to God.
    • As quoted in Rembrandt Drawings (1975) by Paul Némo, as translated by David Macrae
  • A painting is finished when the artist says it is finished.
  • A painting is not made to be sniffed. [but viewed from a distance - see also Rembrandt's quote, in his letter to Constantijn Huygens, Amsterdam, 27 January 1639]

Quotes about RembrandtEdit

sorted chronologically, by date of the quote

Quotes of contemporary figures, 1628 - 1640Edit

  • Also, the son of a miller [= Rembrandt] in Leiden is esteemed highly, though prematurely. Elyas Veldenus [= Esaias van der Velde ] is an elegant painter, though unimportant, now residing at the Hague. The rector Scrivelius showed me his portrait, very lifelike on a panel by the Haarlem painter Frans Hals. [19]
    • Arnout van Buchell, his praise of Rembrandt and other contemporary artists, 10 January 1628; this note was intended for a work by Buchell, entitled Res Picturiae which was not to be printed until 1887
    • By this comment that the son of a Leiden miller was highly, yet prematurely esteemed, Arnout van Buchell [Buchelius] (1565-1641) was the first critical commentator of Rembrandt's work, when the artists was not yet twenty-two years old; he visited Leiden on 10 January 1628 and again in May of that year [20]
  • I have deliberately reserved for last a noble pair of youths from Leiden [Huygens visited Rembrandt and Jan Lievens in 1628]. Were I to say that they alone can vie with the greatest among the superior mortals mentioned earlier, I would still be underestimating the merits of these two; were I to say that they will soon surpass them, I would merely be expressing what their astonishing beginnings have led connoisseurs to expect.
    • Constantijn Huygens, Excerpt from the manuscript Autobiography of Constantijn Huygens (1629-1631), (Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague), published in Oud Holland, 1891, translated by Benjamin Binstock.[21]
  • Due to their parents' straitened circumstances, the youths [Rembrandt and Jan Lievens, living in Leiden, then] were compelled to take teachers whose fees were modest. Were these teachers to be confronted with their pupils today, they would feel just as abashed as those teachers who gave Virgil his first lessons in poetry, Cicero in rhetoric and Archimedes in mathematics. Let it however be said, with due respect for everyone's capacities and without detracting from anyone (for what is it to me?): these two owe nothing to their teachers but everything to their aptitude. Had they never received any tuition but been left to their own devices and suddenly been seized by the urge to paint, I am convinced that they would have risen to the same heights as they indeed have. It would be wrong to think that others have led them to this point.
    • Constantijn Huygens, his opinion of Rembrandt, c. 1630 [document/remdoc/e4390]
    • The manuscript of Huygens was written between 11 May 1629 and April 1631, acoording to Strauss & Van der Meulen 1979, p. 72, RD 1630/5 [document/remdoc/e4390]
  • He was seized with the desire to paint my portrait. I assured him that I should be only too pleased to grant him the opportunity if he would come to The Hague and put up at my house for a while. So ardent was his desire that he arrived within a few days, explaining that since seeing me his nights had been restless and his days so troubled that he had been unable to work. My countenance had lodged so firmly in his mind that his eagerness brooked no further delay.
    • Constantijn Huygens, The Autobiography of Constantijn Huygens, 1629-31; as quoted by Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's eyes, Alfred A. Knopf - Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 258
  • Rembrandt surpasses Lievens in the faculty of penetrating to the heart of his subject matter and bringing out its essence, and his works come across more vividly. Lievens, in turn, surpasses him in the proud self-assurance that radiates from his compositions and their powerful forms. Because Lievens's spirit - and this is due in part to his youth - is charged with the great and the glorious, he is inclined to depict the objects and models before him not life-sized but larger than life. Rembrandt on the other hand, obsessed by the effort to translate into paint what he sees in the mind's eye, prefers smaller formats, in which he nonetheless achieves effects that you will not find in the largest works of others.
    • Constantijn Huygens, The Autobiography of Constantijn Huygens, 1629-31 [22]; as quoted in Rembrandt's Passion Series by Simon McNamara (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015, ISBN 1443875392, p. 73
  • I stand firm: neither Protogenes, Apelles nor Parrhasius ever came up with the idea, nor, if they were to return to earth could they produce anything like this, created by a young, as yet beardless Hollander [Rembrandt, c. 1631], a miller, what he has combined in one figure and created in its entirety. It fills me with astonishment even as I say it. Congratulations Rembrandt!.. ..the achievement of a Dutchman who has never ventured outside the walls of his native city.
    • Constantijn Huygens, My youth, c. 1631; as quoted in Mijn jeugd,C. I. Heessakkers, Querido, 1994, Griffioen, transl. in English, Anne Porcelijn
  • Ah Rembrandt, do paint Cornelis' voice
    His appearance is the least of him
    The invisible one can learn by ear
    Those wanting to see Anslo, must him hear.
    (transl. Anne Porcelijn)
  • original old-Dutch version of Vondel:
    'Ay, Rembrant, mael Cornelis Stem.
    Het zichtbre deel is 't minst van hem:
    't onsichtbre kent men slechts door d'ooren
    wien Anslo zien wil, moet hem hooren.
  • Explanatory version: Ah Rembrandt, try to paint Cornelis Anslo's voice / What one sees of his appearance is so little of him / What you can't see of him you can learn through hearing. / Those wanting a complete impression of him will have to hear him (preach). (transl. Aernout Hagen, Museum Het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam)
    • Joost van den Vondel, the original text is written in curling letters, on the back of Rembrandt's sketch for his engraving (etching) of Cornelis Anslo, he made c. 1640; (location:British Museum).
    • The portrait in painting of Cornelis Anslo with his wife Aeltje was made by Rembrandt a year later, in 1641. Opinions differ about whether Vondel wrote his verse about the painting [23] or the engraving (etching), [24]
  • As for the art of Panting and the affection off the people to Pictures, I thincke none other goe beeyond them, there having bin in the Country Many excellent Men in thatt Faculty, some att Presentt, as Rimbrantt [Rembrandt], etts, All in general striving to adorne their houses, especially the outer or street roome, with costly peeces, Butchers and bakers not much inferiour in their shoppes, which are Fairely sett Forth, yea many tymes blacksmithes, Coblers, etts., will have some picture or some other by their forge and in their stalle. Such is the general Notion, enclination to Paintings. [i.m.] The affection of the people thereto, as Allso to the curious adorning and cleanly keeping of their houses, streets, etc.
    • Peter Mundy, 1640 - his Report about Rembrandt [25], in: The Travels in Europe and Asia 1608-1667, 5 parts in 6 vols., London 1907-1936
    • his report was written during Peter Mundy's visit to Amsterdam in 1640. Rembrandt is the only Dutch painter mentioned - Strauss & Van der Meulen 1979, p. 202, RD 1640/16

Contemporary figures, 1641 - 1670Edit

  • Dear Sir, You would do me a great favor, when in London, to greet Mr. Cornelius Poelenburg, the celebrated painter, and other friends on my behalf. And if, by chance, the illustrious Mr. van Dyck has arrived there, I send him my humble greetings and tell him that yesterday I was called upon to appraise the paintings belonging to Mr. Lopez, including some by Titian... ...Sir, if you happend to think of it, when you pass through Holland, please... ...[try to] obtain paintings by Mr. Cornelio [Cornelius Poelenburgh] which you can easily find in London and Utrecht. In the latter city greet Gerrit [van] Honthorst, and in Amsterdam give my greetings to Mr. Rembrandt and bring back [buy!] something by him. Tell him also that yesterday I appraised his painting 'The Prophet Balaam', [Rembrandt painted in 1626 [26]. which Mr. Lopez bought from him. This piece will be sold together with the ones mentioned above.
    • Claude Vignon, in a letter to Sr. Francesco Langlois [François Langlois], called Ciartres, November 1641 [To Sr. Francesco Langlois [François Langlois], called Ciartres.]
  • In the name of our Lord Amen... ...Saskia van Uijlenburch, wife of the Honorable Rembrant van Rhijn, residing in this city, well known to me, the notary, although sick in bed, yet in full control of her memory and understanding, as it outwardly appeared, after commending her soul to God Almighty and her body to Christian burial, before me declared and appointed as her heirs Titus van Rijn, her son, as well as any other lawful child or children she might bear...
    • notary Pieter Barcman, drawing up Saskia's last will 5 June 1642; as quoted by Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's eyes, Alfred A. Knopf - Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 506
    • Pieter Barcman arrived in the morning, while Saskia still had strength to listen to the reading of the document. Two witnesses, Rochus Scharm and Joannes Reijniers, were in attendance.
  • Thus is Anslo [27] depicted [by Rembrandt]
    Thus his piety is rendered his countenance
    So that if perchance
    The grand old man shall cease to speak,
    This present likeness will speak to nations.
  • ...dumb integuments teach. Cuts of flesh, though dead, for that very reason forbid us to die. Here, while with artful hand he slits the pallid limbs, speaks to us the eloquence of learned Tulp: "Listener, learn yourself! and while you proceed through the parts, believe that, even in the smallest, God lies hid."
    • Baerleus, in his poem 'On the Anatomical Table', before 1646; as quoted by Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's eyes, Alfred A. Knopf - Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 353
    • Simon Schama: ...Rembrandt has had the brainstorm of having him [= dr. Tulip, in Rembrandt's painting of dr. Tulip look not at his enthralled colleagues but off into the distance, away from both the company and ourselves, as if rapt in Christian meditation. Just what kind of meditation this was was evident at least to Barlaeus, whose 1639 poem was specifically about Rembrandt's painting.
  • that with her needle she eclipses what Rembrandt, in his paintings, does with his brush, for she also paints with gold...
  • original old-Dutch text: ...dat zy de schilderyen, Van Rembrant zellever, verduistert met de naald, Die een pinceel verstrekt, daar zy met goud mee maalt...
    • Jan Zoet's praise of Rembrandt in the play Zabynaja, of Vermomde loosheid, 1648 [29]; as quoted by H. Chr. Van Bemmel, 'De 1e editie van 'Zabynaja, of Vermomde loosheid, pots-spel' van Jan Zoet ontdekt', in: De nieuwe taalgids 71 (1978), afl. 4 (juli), pp. 318-319
  • This drawing shows the outer Amstel bank
    so properly drawn by Mr. Rembrant's own hand
    P[hilips de] Ko[ninck] f 5:-
  • original old-Dutch text: Dees tekeningh vertoont de buiten amstel kant / Soo braaf getekent door heer Rembrants eijgen hant / P. Ko: f 5:-
    • Philip de Koninck, his inscription in the form of a distich, on the reverse of a landscape drawing of the Outer Amstel bank, c. 1649-1650 [30] (Benesch 1220a)
  • ...I will not attempt your fame
    O Rembrandt, with my pen to scrawl
    For the esteem you receive in every hall
    Is known when I merely mention your name...
  • in original old-Dutch: Ick sal niet pogen uwe roem
    O Rembrandt met mijn pen te malen,
    Elck weet wat eer dat ghy kont halen
    Wanneer ick slechts u name roem [31]
    • Lambert Bos, in 'Konst kabinet van Marten Kretzer', ed. Nicolaes van Ravesteyn, Amsterdam 1650; as quoted in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work, Ernst van de Wetering, Amsterdam University Press, 1997, p. 268 – note 7
    • The poet Lambert Bos included in 1650 these four lines, in a poem he made in praise of the once famous collection of Maerten Kretzer in Amsterdam [32]
  • Ah, Rembrant, be careful when you etch Coppenol [33],
    It is fraught with danger: the burin will slip from your hand
    When your eyes feast on this calligraphy
    Your stylus will lose all its power.
    • J. Boogaard, his praise on Rembrandt's etching of Lieven Coppenol, in Hollantsche Parnas - of Verscheide Gedichten gerijmt door J. Westerbaen, J. van Vondel, J. Vos, G. Brant, R. Anslo, door T. Domselaar verzamelt, Amsterdam 1660 [34]
  • When I read St. John's [35] inscription of this scene
    And turn to see it in this splendid painting [of Rembrandt],
    then I ask myself if brush has ever followed pen
    As aptly, or dead paint near to life has been.
    • Jeremias de Decker's poem, published in the 1660 anthology, 'De Hollantsche Parnas'; as quoted in: Rembrandt's Faith; Church and Temple in the Dutch Golden Age, Shelley Perlove and Larry Silver, Penn State Press, 2009, p. 309
  • Christ seems to say 'Mary don't tremble. I am here
    It's me. Your master's free of Death's authority'
    Believing, though not yet wit all her heart and mind, she
    Seems poised between her joy and grief, her hope and fear.
    • Jeremias de Decker, as quoted in: Rembrandt's Faith; Church and Temple in the Dutch Golden Age – Shelley Perlove and Larry Silver, Penn State Press, 2009, p. 343
    • Jeremias de Decker is reacting on Rembrandt's painting 'Noli me tangere' - presumably the 1638 version [36]; Bredius, 559
  • They are both [Rembrandt's second wife Hendrickje and his son Titus very much in need of aid and assistance in this enterprise... ...[and because] no one is more suitable for this purpose than the afore-mentioned Rembrandt van Rhijn [Rembrandt himself would live with them in the house on the Rozengracht, board and lodging supplied, paid for by supplying artworks for the inventory].
    • official juridical document, 1660 - location: RD-1660/20, p. 462-65; as quoted in Rembrandt's Eyes, Simon Schama, Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books, New York 1999, p. 641
    • In December 1660 Rembrandt's insolvency account was finally closed by the insolvency commissioners. On the same day his wife Hendrickje and his son Titus appeared, along with Rembrandt, before a notary to constitute formally a business partnership to trade in "paintings, graphic arts, engravings, and woodcuts as well as prints and curiosities." with each of the partners sharing the profits and losses equally
  • [that] Nature stands abashed—red faced
    For never before has she been so well rendered
    By any artist... [than Rembrandt]
    • Cornelis de Bie, in Het Gulden Cabinet van de Edele vry Schilder const (Antwerp, 1661); as quoted in Rembrandt's Eyes, Simon Schama, Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 290 – note 27
    • the poet Cornelis de Bie - in a 1661 verse - tribute to all the great painters of his day, sang Rembrandt's praises, to those who were beginning to denigrate Rembrandt as an 'undisciplined slave of nature'
  • Here Rembrandt shows u show old Simeon [37]
    With joy takes his savior into his arms
    And now wants to die, because the sun of his mercy
    [represented by beams of light in the drawing, falling onto the infant Jesus]...
    ...Has shown forth
    • an anonymous Dutch poet, 1661; as quoted in Rembrandt's Faith; Church and Temple in the Dutch Golden Age, Shelley Perlove and Larry Silver, Penn State Press, 2009, p. 328
    • One of Rembrandt's friends, a poet and the rector of the Amsterdam Latin School, Jacobus Heyblocq (1623-1673) assembled a series of literary contributions – as well as an ink drawing by Rembrandt, in a friendship album or album amicorum, dated to 1661. For this occasion Rembrandt offered a small 'Simeon in the Temple' [= 'Simeon's Song of Praise' / 'The Presentation in the Temple', 1661]... ...Heyblocq's 'album amicorum' includes a poem in response to Rembrandt's drawing
  • My father engraves as well as anyone... ...just the other day he engraved a curious woman with a pap pot \ pap-potgen \ that gave everyone a pleasant surprise.
    • Titus van Rijn, his declaration (before a notary in 1665); as quoted in Rembrandt's Eyes, Simon Schama, Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books, New York 1999, p. 673
    • In 1665 Titus [the only son of Rembrandt] was in the city Leiden, acting as Rembrandt's agent, attempting to convince the bookseller Daniel van Gaesbeecq that his father was certainly capable of engraving a portrait of the Leiden scholar Joan Antonides van der Linden [List of rectores magnifici of Leiden University]
  • O, Rembrand, although your diligence has painted de Dekker
    So artful that his soul seems to radiate from his countenance,
    'Tis only the shadow of the bark that covered him;
    His pen was mightier than any brushwork
    It renders his very spirit, which casts a shadow longer
    Than his body, extending up to Heaven.
    • Jan van Petersom's praise of the portrait by Rembrandt of Jeremias de Dekker [39], 1661, in Lof der Geldsucht, Amsterdam 1667
    • this poem about de Dekker was reprinted in Alle de Rym-Oefeningen van Jeremias de Decker, by Brouerius van Nidek, Amsterdam 1726, vol. 1.
  • Thursday 29 [December] ... His Highness [ Cosimo de' Medici ], after attending Mass, went with Blaeu and Ferroni to look at paintings by various masters, among them the designer Van Velde, Reinbrent [= Rembrandt] the famous painter, Scamus who does seascapes, and others who did not have finished paintings, so that we visited private homes where we could look at their works.
    • a record in Viaggi d’Alemagna, Paesi Bassi del 1667..., 29 December 1667 [40]
    • Cosimo's visit to Rembrandt's house is further evidence of the artist's renown during his later years beyond the boundaries of Holland. Cosimo's guide was the publisher Pieter Blaeu, who also introduced the 25 years old prince to Willem van der Velde I (1611-1693) and to the marine painter Scamus, who has not been positively identified.
  • ...four flayed arms and legs anatomized by Vesalius...
    • Pieter van Brederode; as quoted by Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's eyes, Alfred A. Knopf - Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 342
    • Two days before his death in October 1669, Rembrandt was visited by the genealogist and antiquarian Pieter van Brederode to view his "rarities and antiquities." It illustrates Rembrandt's strong focus on the human body.... ...Vesalius was the founding father of modern anatomy: Andries van Wesel, better known as Vesalius.
  • On 4 October 1669 [my] cousin, Rembrant van Rhijn, painter died.
    • Nicolaes Sebastiaansz Vlinck, recording Rembrandt's death on 4 October 1669; as quoted by Nicolaes Sebastiaensz. Vlinck (genealogist)
    • Vlinck was an apothecary residing in de Sonnebloem (The Sunflower) in Amsterdam; he was a distant relative of Rembrandt on his mother's side [41]

1670 - 1700Edit

  • [comparing] great painters [who] try to show a beautiful nude body in which one can see their knowledge of drawing [with] an incompetent [=Rembrandt] who tries to cover their figures with dark clumsy garments... ...a kind of painter, who does the contours so that one does not know what to make out of it.
    • Abraham Breughel, 1670; in: Rembrandt and His Critics, Seymour Slive, The Hague, 1953; reprint, New York, 1988; as quoted in Rembrandt's Eyes, Simon Schama, Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books, New York 1999, p. 589 - note 30
    • One of the earliest and most pungent attacks on Rembrandt's late style in 1670 - a year after Rembrandt died, from the great-grandson of Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Abraham Breughel, working in Rome. Five years earlier, May 1665, he also told Don Ruffo (buyer of Rembrandt's painting Aristotle in 1653) that in Rome the paintings of Rembrandt were not held in high esteem (note 31)
  • ...a Leda or a Danae... a naked woman with swollen belly, hanging breasts and garter marks on the legs.
    • Jan de Bisschop, 1671; as quoted by Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's eyes, Alfred A. Knopf - Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 389
    • Jan de Bisschop became soon after his death one of Rembrandt's fiercest 'classical'critics, attacking Rembrandt here for putting Nature before the classical ideal, as did in a similar way Arnold Houbraken.
  • Rembrandt, the son of a miller, a pupil of Lastman, attained to a high degree of excellence in art through industry and natural gifts, although he never visited Italy and was but imperfectly developed... ...He sinned against the laws of anatomy, proportion, perspective, and the antique, as against Raphael's draftsmanship; and he warred also against academies and relied on nature.
    • Joachim von Sandrart, in Comments (1675), as quoted in Painters on Painting (1963) by Eric Protter, p. 80
  • His engravings bear witness to his industry, and by its means he acquired affluence... ...If he had been more prudent in his relations with others, he would have become still wealthier. But although he was no spendthrift, he cared little for social rank, and was addicted to the society of humble folks, who interfered a good deal with his work.
    • Joachim von Sandrart, in Comments (1675), as quoted in Painters on Painting (1963) by Eric Protter, p. 80
  • ..that the strong impasto was due to Rembrandt's slow way of painting and his habit of returning tot he same passage over and over again, and that consequently the portrait commisions eventually stopped coming in.
    • Filippo Baldinucci, as quoted in the 'Introduction', in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work, Ernst van de Wetering, Amsterdam University Press, 1997, p. 5
    • after conversations with Rembrandt's pupil Eberhard Keil, Filippo Baldinucci (1625 – 1696), the Florentine abbot and art-connoisseur - recorded this remark
  • [Rembrandt's habit of taking] a washerwoman or peat-trader from some barn [and] calling his whim the imitation of Nature and everything else decoration.
    • Andries Pels, c. 1681; as quoted by Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's eyes, Alfred A. Knopf - Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 389
  • [an artist should paint] with a bold hand, but not like Rembrandt or Jan Lievens, whose colors run down the piece like dung... artist should evenly and lushly... ...[so that] your subjects appear rounded and raised by Art alone, and not by daubing.

Van Hoogstraten, in his 'Introduction'Edit

from 'Introduction to the Academy of the Art of Painting: otherwise the visible world.' / 'Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst: anders de zichtbaere werelt.', Samuel van Hoogstraten, Rotterdam, 1678
Samuel van Hoogstraten; 'Introduction to the Academy of the Art of Painting: otherwise the visible world.' / 'Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst: anders de zichtbaere werelt.' - Davaco Publishers, z.p. 1969 (Photographic reprint), © 2009, dbnl [42] - transl. Fons Heijnbroek & Anne Porcelijn

  • Rembrandt has observed this requirement [of unity] in 'The Night Watch' / 'De Nachtwacht' very well... ...though in the opinion of many [17th century critics] he went too far, making more of the overall picture according to his individual preference, than of the individual portraits he was commissioned to do. Nonetheless, the painting, no matter how much it is criticized, will, in my opinion, survive all its rivals because it is so painterly [schilderachtigh] in conception and so powerful that, according to some people, all the other pieces [c. 4 other paintings] in De Doelen [in Amsterdam] look like playing cards alongside it. Although I would have liked that he had put more light in the painting.
    • Simon Schama: Samuel van Hoogstraten learned to draft a balance sheet of the splendors and difficulties of the painting; he had been Rembrandt's pupil during the late 1640's. In this quote he compared the necessity of unifying the several elements of a painting to an officer marshaling his troops. [Rembrandt's Eyes, Simon Schama, p. 488]
    • p. 176
  • In a nicely set up little work by Rembrandt of 'John the Baptist preaching', I can remember seeing a wonderful attention in (the faces) of the listeners, in all sorts of positions, this was really praiseworthy. But one could also see how a dog indecently jumps on a bitch. You can say that this happens and is normal, but I say this is an abominable impropriety in this story. But I want to state here that this scene belongs more to a preaching by the dog-like Diogenes than by John the Baptist.. ..Pictures like this serve to illustrate the stupidity of the Master and become even more ridiculous as they drift into ever more trivial additions.
    • p. 183
  • [Karel] Van Mander says that a certain Jaques de Bakker in Antwerp first introduced the fleshy way of painting, by not painting only with white, but by heightening the colour/paint with a natural physicality. Certainly, his namesake Jaques de Bakker from Amsterdam followed him in this commendable observation.. ..Not to mention Rembrandt and the others Aert de Gelder in particular, Rembrandt's last pupil], who highly valued this aspect of art.
    • p. 227-228
  • But the empty spaces [in the painting] devoid of all shine or reflection we put in the fifth and last grade, and see them as identical to the black, the deepest colour [tone]. This remark will make us careful not to try and go further than the ability of our paint/colour allows. Because, if we go too far in height we will lack at the bottom of the picture [from light gradations: light to dark]. Such as will happen to those who, when painting a picture of the night, place a burning torch or candle in the foreground. They then no longer have the possibility of giving the rest of the painting clarity. As far as he was able, Rembrandt painted the strength of candlelight in a few brown prints, but when one covers the light the rest of the work remains dark because we tend to hold our hand up to the light, so that this does not obstruct our ability to differentiate everything clearly and vividly.
    • p. 268
  • The shadows cast in the house by sun shining inside are like those out of doors, except that they appear stronger and are more defined by a window or a door. Albrecht Dürer really enjoyed sun shining into a room in his 'Hieronymus in the Room' [43] [44].. ..Our own Rembrandt concerned himself in an amazing way with sunlight reflections. It seems as though he is really in his element when reflecting any light whatsoever. If only he had understood the basic rules of this art a little better. Because those who only trust their own eyes and delusional experiences, often make mistakes that earn the derisive remarks from pupils, not to mention the masters.
    • p. 272
  • I therefore advise you not to put too many lights and shadows together, but to arrange them cleverly in groups. Allow your brightest lights subtly flow into the not so bright lights. I can assure you that they will light up all the more. Always surround your deepest and darkest areas with a clear brown, this way they will allow the light to brighten in strength and intensity. Rembrandt has used this virtue to great effect and he was expert in bringing together related colours.
    • p. 305-306

18th centuryEdit

  • I will not deny that I used to have a particular weakness for his [Rembrandt's] manner. But this was before I began to be aware of the infallible rules of painting. I later found myself obliged to concede my mistake and reject his art as based on nothing more than insubstantial imaginings.
    • Gerard de Lairesse, Het groot schilderboeck (Amsterdam, 1707); as quoted in Rembrandt's Eyes, Simon Schama, Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books, New York 1999, p. 694
  • And Rembrandt, imaging the night too figuratively; in its bottom, full of darkness.
  • Dutch original text: En Rembrandt, die den nagt verbeelde te figuurlijk. In zijnen duisteren grond. [45]
    • from a pamphlet entitled Lyris opper rym- en schilderbaaz, ca. 1714/15; transl. F. Heijnsbroek
  • He had an excellent Disposition for Painting. His Vein was fruitful, and his Thoughts fine and lively. But having suck'd in, with his Milk, the bad Taste of his Country, and aiming at nothing beyond a faithful Imitation of the living (heavy) Nature, which he had always before his Eyes, he form'd a Manner entirely new, and peculiar to himself. He prepar'd his Ground with a Lay of fiich? friendly Colours as united, and came nearest to the Life. Upon this he touch'd in his Virgin Tints (each in its proper Place) rough , and as little disturb'd by the Pencil, as possible: And with great Masses of Lights and Shadows rounding off his Figures, gave them a Force and Freshness, that was very surprising. [46]
    • Richard Graham, in 'short account of the most eminent painters'; included in the second English edition of Charles-Alphonse Dufresnoy's The art of painting or De arte graphica liber, by R. G. Esq, London 1716, p. 370-372
  • With regard to art he [Rembrandt] was rich with ideas, so that you frequently see him making a great number of different sketches of one and the same object, full also of changes in the figures and poses as well as the arrangement of the clothing; for which he is to be praised above all others – especially above those who employ such figures and clothing in their work as if they were twins.
  • He [Rembrandt] had been so busy painting continuously over so many years that people had to wait some considerable time fort heir paintings, in spite of the fact that he continued working dexterously, particularly in his later period when, seen close to, it looked as though the paint had been smeared on with a bricklayers trowel...
  • Vele jaren agter den anderen heeft hy het met schilderen zoo druk gehad dat de menschen lang naar hunne stukken moesten wagten, niettegenstaande dat hy met zyn werk vaardig voortging, inzonderheid in zyn laatsten tyd, toen het 'er, van na by bezien, uitzag of het met een Metzelaars truffel was aangesmeert...
    • Dutch version: Arnold Houbraken, 1718, in Vol. 1., p. 259; De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen (3 delen), published by J. Swart / C. Boucquet / M. Gaillard, 2e druk, 'sGravenhage 1753, p. 269
    • English version Arnold Houbraken, as quoted in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work, by Ernst van de Wetering, Amsterdam University Press, 1997, p. 5
    • The painter Arnold Houbraken (1660 – 1719) was on intimate terms with several late pupils of Rembrandt who had worked in Rembrandt's studio; they told him this information from inside the studio, because they could observe the master during his work.
  • He [Rembrandt] was not to be dissuaded from this practice, saying in justification that a work is finished when the master has achieved his intention in it.
    • Arnold Houbraken, 1718; as quoted in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work, by Ernst van de Wetering, Amsterdam University Press, 1997, p. 164 - note 24
    • [Houbraken is quoting his informants and presents this quote in relation to the paintings of Rembrandt, in which some parts were worked up in great detail, while the remainder was smeared as if by a coarse tar-brush, without consideration to the [underlying] drawing.
  • [that Rembrandt] tugged people away who peered to closely at his pictures when visiting his studio saying: 'The smell of the paint would bother you'.
    • Arnold Houbraken, 1718, Vol. 1., p. 269 as quoted in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work, Ernst van de Wetering, Amsterdam University Press, 1997, p. 163 and note 17 + 18
    • In Houbraken's story of the life of the painter Aert van Gelder (who was a late pupil and followed Rembrandt's late painting-style most consequently), Houbraken is discussing the fact that the choice between the rough and the smooth manner of painting was subject to fashion (Houbraken Vol. 3., p. 206)
  • [that because] Rembrandt's manner was so generally praised, everything had to be based on it [so that] to please the World he (Govert Flinck) found it advisable to go and learn from Rembrandt for a year, where he became accustomed to that handling and manner of painting... ...It was the mark of Flinck's talent that after only this brief time his own work was taken and sold as the rue brushwork of Rembrandt.
    • Arnold Houbraken, in De groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, (Amsterdam, 1719), p. 20-21
  • He only lived with the lower class and people much below himself... ...He looked to nature as the only one capable of teaching him. He chose no other studio for his studies than his father's windmill.
    • Jean Baptiste Descamps La vie des peintres, flamands, allemands et hollandois, Paris, 1753
    • the information is based mainly on the biography of Arnold Houbraken. The fact that the young painter Rembrandt only lived in the windmill of his father (in Leiden) is rather disputable; also his life between the Amsterdam elite is disappearing in this quote. [47].
  • Works produced in an accidental manner [as Rembrandt did, according to Reynolds] will have the same free, unrestrained air as works of nature, whose particular combinations seems to depend upon accident.
    • J. Reynolds, 1775-1790; in his Discours on Art, ed. R. R. Wark – New Haven London, p. 223

19th centuryEdit

  • I have had three masters, Nature, Velázquez, and Rembrandt.
    • Francisco Goya, as quoted in Painters on Painting by Eric Protter, p. 98 (Dover Publications, 1971)
  • I have likewise made many 'skies' and effects — for I wish it could be said of me as Fuselli says of Rembrandt: 'he followed nature in her calmest abodes and could pluck a flower on every hedge — yet he was born to cast a steadfast eye on the bolder phenomena of nature'.
    • Quote of John Constable from his letter to Rev. John Fisher in 1821 on painting his oil-sketches of stormy weather, as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London 1993), p. 222
  • Rembrandt the Thinker.
  • Perhaps we shall one day find that Rembrandt is a greater painter than Raphael. I write down this blasphemy which will cause the hair of the school-men to stand on end without taking sides.
    • Eugène Delacroix, in his Journal, 1851; as quoted in The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt: Reinventing an Old Master in Nineteenth-Century France (2004) by Alison McQueen, p. 102
  • I am very sure that if Rembrandt had held himself down to his studio practice (drawing every figure nude before putting clothing on them) he would not have either that power of pantomime nor that power over effects which makes his scenes so genuinely the expression of nature... ...the further I go on in life the more I feel within me that truth is what is most beautiful, and most rare... ...[this] is to be found again in Rembrandt's mysterious conception of his subjects, in the deep naturalness of expressions and of gestures.
    • Eugène Delacroix, in his Journal, 1851; as quoted by Alison McQueen, in The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt: Reinventing an Old Master in Nineteenth-century France, Amsterdam University Press, 2003, p 102 – note 233
  • I have a memory above all of a small landscape by Rembrandt with this inscription 'Tacet sed loquitur', which made such an impression on me in my childhood.
  • You speak to me of Rembrand, of this famous, of this great, of this giant... ...I would very much like to see the painting by Rembrandt of which you speak, because it should be quiete splendid. I eat it up from here (you know the fashionable phrase)
    • Alphonse Legros, in a letter to his friend Henri Fantin-Latour, 12 March 1858; as quoted by Alison McQueen, in The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt: Reinventing an Old Master in Nineteenth-century France, Amsterdam University Press, 2003, p. 86 - note 186
  • He [Rembrandt] introduced a new ideal, not the ideal of forms, but the ideal of clair-obscur, not the ideal of beauty, but the ideal of expression.
  • Rembrandt was also fond of this subject from the story of Tobias [and the Angel [48], of which he painted various scenes in an informal style, which recalls a little the peasant-like style of M. Millet... ...For two centuries, the exclusive amateurs of the grand Italian style have always manhandled Rembrandt, which have not prevented him from making inroads in the museums... ...of Europe, This should console the realists [a. o. Millet] a bit fort the current injustices and give them some hope for the future.
    • Thoré-Bürger, in his review of the 'Salon of 1861'; as quoted by Alison McQueen, The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt: Reinventing an Old Master in Nineteenth-century France', Amsterdam University Press, 2003, p. 49-50 note 112
    • This quote refers to Jean-Francois Millet's picture 'Waiting', exhibited on the Paris' Salon of 1861 - picturing the biblical story of Tobias and his wife
  • The best history is but like the art of Rembrandt; it casts a vivid light on certain selected causes, on those which were best and greatest; it leaves all the rest in shadow and unseen.
  • This print speaks [ the 'Hundred Guilder Print', a famous etching of Rembrandt], the shadow is vaporous like an autumn day and the figures are animated with a breath of air... summarizes everything, sentiment, order, moral, light and painting. If I looked at it an entire day, I would be dazzled and almost frightened by Rembrandt's genius... [Rousseau ended up the talk paying 8.000 francs for the print]
  • Rembrandt printed himself. We have known this without a doubt since Doctor Scheltema, the wise archivist in Amsterdam, found in the archives in this city and published the inventory of all that was recorded in Rembrandt's house [location: Jodenbreestraat, Amsterdam] when it was seized in 1656 to be sold by the Chamber of Insolvents. We encounter scattered here and there all the trappings of a printmaker-printer: 'In the room behind the antechamber: a small oak-table, four lampshades; an oak press. In the room behind the livingroom: a press of marbelized yellow wood'.
    • Burt, in his article 'La Belle épreuve', in 'L'eau-forte in 1875', p. 9+10; as quoted by Alison McQueen, in The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt: Reinventing an Old Master in Nineteenth-century France], Amsterdam University Press, 2003, p. 236 – note 453 [[49]
  • Would you believe it – and I honestly mean what I say – I should be happy to give ten years of my life if I could go on sitting here in front of this picture [Rembrandt's 'Jewish Bride'] for a fortnight, with only a crust of dry bread for food?
    • his friend Anton Kerssemakers, in 'De Amsterdammer, Weekblad voor Nederland', 14 April 1912, p. 6; as quoted in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work, by Ernst van de Wetering, Amsterdam University Press, 1997, p. 155
    • Kerssemaker visited with Vincent the newly opened Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in the Autumn of 1885, where they found the 'Jewish Bride'; when they left the painting, Kerssemaker heard Vincent saying this remark
  • What an infinitely sympathetic painting. This is the essence of Rembrandt's genius. It's his sympathy for humankind which makes his art eternal.
  • There is something of Rembrandt in the Gospel, or something of the Gospel in Rembrandt, as you like it — it comes to the same, if one only understands the thing in the right way.
  • Rembrandt is so deeply mysterious that he says things for which there are no words in any language. Rembrandt is truly called a magician... that's not an easy calling.
  • Above all the popular attracted him [Rembrandt], and in the squares, in the suburbs, the workers and the countryfolk appeared to him wearthy of attention... ...their expressive gestures become more frankly marked, their attitude and their expressions are more natural... Rembrandt never stopped studying them. He loved living among the poor.
    • François Emile Michel, in Rembrandt sa vie son oeuvre et son temps [50], Hachette, Paris 1893, p. 62-63
    • Michel is picturing here Rembrandt as the 'Painter of the poor'

20th centuryEdit

  • Rembrandt, in effect, belongs to the race of artists who cannot have descendants, the race of Michelangelo, the race of Shakespeare, of Beethoven; like these Prometheuses of art he wanted to ravish the celestial fife, to put the vibrations of life into still form, to express in the visible, that which by its very nature is non-material and undefineable.
    • François Émile Michel, c. 1900; as quoted in Celebrating Quiet Artists: Stirring Stories of Introverted Artists Who the World Can't Forget (2016) by Prasenjeet Kumar.
  • There he [Rembrandt] stood, when everything was on the canvas [of the 'Night Watch'], but then he shook his head... ...In his opinion the two men [in the center] did not yet come forward into the foreground. Then he [Rembrandt] took up his large palette again, dicked his thickest brushes deep into the paint, and once again took on these two front figures with powerful strokes; here more depth, there more light. In this way he put everything tot he test, in order to give an even more powerful relief to what needed to stand out. Then he saw that it was good, and that is how he left it.
    • Jozef Israëls, 1906; in 'Rembrandt', De Gids 3. 1906, p. 1-13, esp. 7
    • Israëls himself painted many of his works in late-nineteenth-century rembrandt-like darks and lights, for instance in his variation on the 'Jewish Bride': [[51]], 'A Jewish Wedding', in 1903.
  • Compare me with Rembrandt! What sacrilege! With Rembrandt, the colossus of Art! What are you thinking of, my friend! We should prostrate ourselves before Rembrandt and never compare anyone with him!
    • Auguste Rodin, in Art: Conversations with Paul Gsell (University of California Press, 1984), p. 85 [Translated by Jacques de Caso and Patricia B. Sanders]. Originally published as L'Art: Entretiens réunis par Paul Gsell (Paris: Bernard Grasset, Éditeur, 1911).
  • Neither Imperial Russia, nor the Russia of the Soviets needs me. They don't understand me. I am a stranger to them. I'm certain Rembrandt loves me.
    • Marc Chagall (1922), as quoted in Chagall: A Biography by Jackie Wullschlager (2008), p. 274
  • He can blend, like no one else, reality with mystery, the bestial with the divine, the most subtle and powerful 'craftsmanship' with the greatest, the loneliest depths of feeling that painting has ever expressed.
    • Paul Valéry, Degas Danse Dessin (Degas Dance Drawing, 1935)
  • Rembrandt was himself a universal spirit, and this spirit informs everything that he painted, so that a biblical legend, a carcass of an ox, a naked woman, his own self-portrait — all stand as symbols of an all-embracing sympathy. Perhaps only Shakespeare, in another art, has that kind of universal intelligence.
    • Sir Herbert Read in "Gauguin: The Return to Symbolism" in The Tenth Muse: Essays in Criticism (1957).
  • His temperament was that of a Prophet — a God-possessed man, brother to Dostoevski, and teeming with the future, a future he bore within him as the Hebrew prophets bore within them the coming of the Messiah, and as he bore within himself the past.
    • André Malraux as quoted in Painters on Painting (1963) by Eric Protter, p. 78
  • A painting by Rembrandt not only stops the time that made the subject flow into the future, but makes it flow back to the remotest ages. By means of this operation Rembrandt achieves solemnity. He thus discovers why, at every moment, every event is solemn: he knows it from his own solitude.
    • Jean Genet, "Something Which Seemed to Resemble Decay" (1964), trans. Bernard Frechtman, Antaeus (spring 1985 issue)
  • Probably no one has combined to as great a degree as Rembrandt a disciplined exposition of what his eye saw and a love of line as a beautiful thing in itself. His 'Winter Landscape' displays the virtuosity of performance of an Oriental master, yet unlike the Oriental calligraphy, it is not based on an established convention of brush performance. It is as personal as handwriting.
    • Daniel Marcus Mendelowitz, in Drawing (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc., 1967), p. 305
  • The psychological truth of Rembrandt's paintings goes beyond that of any other artist who has ever lived. Of course they are masterpieces of sheer picture-making. In the 'Bathsheba' he makes use of studies from nature and from antique reliefs to achieve a perfectly balanced design. We may think we admire it as pure painting, but in the end we come back to the head. Bathsheba's thoughts and feelings as she ponders David's letter are rendered with a subtlety and a human sympathy which a great novelist could scarcely achieve in many pages.
    • Kenneth Clark, Civlisation (1969), ch. 8: The Light of Experience
  • Rembrandt. painted about 700 pictures—of these, 3,000 are in existence.
    • Wilhelm von Bode, as quoted in The Book of Bill: Choice Words Memorable Men, by Tom Crisp, 2009, p. 124
  • Of all the Baroque masters, it was Rembrandt who evolved the most revolutionary technique and who seemed to grow into the Italians' spiritual heir. Where others needed five touches he was using one, and so the brushstrokes had begun to separate and could sometimes only be properly read from a distance. The exact imitation of form was being replaced by the suggestion of it: to some of his contemporaries, therefore, his paintings began to look unfinished. It was from the Venetians that he had learned to use a brown ground so that his paintings emerged from dark to light, physically as well as spiritually. Yet, despite a palette that was limited even by seventeenth century standards, he was renowned as a colorist for he managed to maintain a precarious balance between painting tonally, with light and shade, and painting in color. Just as form was suggested rather than delineated, so the impression of rich color was deceptive. Never before had a painter taken such a purely sensuous interest and delight in the physical qualities of his medium, nor granted it a greater measure of independence from the image.
  • It is tempting to believe that Rembrandt might have owned, or seen, Chinese or Japanese paintings. But there is no evidence for this at all. Yet when we look at some of his drawings, notably those sketched freely in ink or ink wash, we find a combination of formal clarity and calligraphic vitality in the movement of pen or brush that is closer to Chinese painting in technique and feeling than to anything in European art before the twentieth century. This, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must attribute to coincidence and to Rembrandt's unique gifts as a draughtsman.
    • Michael Sullivan, in The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art (University of California Press, 1989), p. 91
  • Kolakowski, as we will see, has clearly depicted the religious life and the forms of community constructed by the cultured strata of the Dutch bourgeoisie. Spinoza lives in this world, with a vast network of simple and sociable friendships and correspondences. But for certain determinate strata of the bourgeoisie the sweetness of the cultured and sedate life is accompanied, without any contradiction, by an association with a capitalist Power ('potestas'), expressed in very mature terms. This is the condition of a Dutch bourgeois man. We could say the same thing for the other genius of that age, Rembrandt van Rijn. On his canvases the power of light is concentrated with intensity on the figures of a bourgeois world in terrific expansion. It is a prosaic but very powerful society, which makes poetry without knowing it because it has the force to do so.
    • Antonio Negri (1991). Savage Anomaly: The Power of Spinoza's Metaphysics and Politics, translated from the Italian original by Michael Hardt.
  • Offhand, I think of the Schubert Fantaisie in F Minor. The weight of the melody here is such that you can't place where it is, or what it's coming from. There are not many experiences of this kind in music, but a perfect example of what I mean can be found in Rembrandt's self-portrait in the Frick. Not only is it impossible for us to comprehend how this painting was made; we cannot even fix where it exists in relation to our vision. Music is not painting, but it can learn from this more perceptive temperament that waits and observes the inherent mystery of its materials, as opposed to the composer's vested interest in his craft. Since music has never had a Rembrandt, we have remained nothing more than musicians.
    • Morton Feldman, as quoted in The Music of Morton Feldman, by Thomas DeLio, 1996, p. 208
  • About 1630, Constantijn Huygens in his briljant analysis of the figure of Judas in Rembrandt's 'Judas Repentant' argues that: 'Rembrandt had surpassed the painters from Antiquity, as well as the great sixteenth-century Italian artists when it came tot he representation of emotions expressed by figures that act in a history painting'.
  • Was the miller's son, all of twenty-three, stuck in pious, professional Leiden, already presuming to present himself as the incarnation of Genius? No wonder a visitor from Utrecht, Arnout van Buchell, who encountered Rembrandt in 1628, thought him 'highly esteemed but before his time.'
    • Dutch RD Rijks-Dienst, 1628/1, 61; as quoted by Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's eyes, Alfred A. Knopf - Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 21
  • ..the Rembrandt whom Constantijn Huygens had discovered was driven constantly to measure himself against the mark others had set: his Amsterdam teacher Pieter Lastman; his Leiden friend and rival Lievens;... ...Most of all, though, and for an entire decade, Rembrandt measured himself compulsively against 'the prince of painters and the painter of princes': Peter Paul Rubens. To become singular, Rembrandt had first to become someone's double.
    • Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's eyes, Alfred A. Knopf - Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 21
  • Rembrandt was already deeply involved in his attachment to Rubens — at once adopting him as his model and fighting to have the differences noticed. His [painting] 'Descent from the Cross', also painted in 1631 for the Stadholder, was directly taken from the engraving after Rubens's greatest masterpiece in Antwerp Cathedral', while at the same time being a calculated Protestant response to the immense diapason of the [catholic] Flemish master's altar-piece.
    • Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's eyes, Alfred A. Knopf - Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 35
  • City chronicler Jan Orlers's 1641 account relates that 'he had no desire or inclination' to study at the university, and that 'his only natural inclination was for painting and drawing, so that his parents were compelled to take their son out of the School and following his own wishes to apprentice him with a Painter where he might learn the foundation and principles [of art].'
    • Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's eyes, Alfred A. Knopf - Borzoi Books, NEW YORK 1999, p. 209
  • But the first documented encounter [ of Rembrandt and Jan Six] was in 1647, 'when Rembrandt made a portrait etching of Jan Six', a work exactly calculated to gratify his self-image as a gentleman-virtuoso. What did the two men of unequal age, background, and ambition see in each other in 1647? Rembrandt had many pupils, assistants, and patrons, but few friends, least of all of the elegantly cultivated kind, personified by Jan Six.
    • Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's Eyes, Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books, New York 1999, p. 573
  • The picture of Jan Six, painted in 1654 is, then, a virtual encyclopedia of painting, from the loosest handling to the dry brush, sparely loaded with yellow, dragged over the surface at the edge of Six's right cuff; from the finest detail to the most impressionist daring. Yet Rembrandt manages to bring all this diversity of technique into a totally resolved single image. So that Jan Six does indeed stand before us much as we would dearly wish to imagine ourselves, all the contradictions of our character—vanity and modesty, outward show and inward reflectiveness, energy and calm—miraculously fitted together.
    • Simon Schama, in Rembrandt's Eyes, Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books, New York 1999, p. 581

21th centuryEdit

  • During this period [1830 – 1900, in France], Rembrandt was appropriated as a symbolic figure by critics and painter-printmakers and assigned a heroic, cult-like artistic and political status. French critics molded and reinvented earlier anecdotal biographies... formulate an artistic persona that had particular meaning [for] nineteenthcentury French vanguard art and politics.
  • Rembrandt was a model from the past that artists and critics [in France] sought out because he fulfilled their needs for a new 'non-ideal' exemplar, someone who could justify and bolster their own artistic projects and political views... a successful predecessor and he functioned as a mentor... ...through the practical emulation of his artistic techniques... French artists did their utmost to absorb, invoke, subsume and usurp Rembrandt’s artistic persona in an effort to define their own identities.
  • Two aphorisms about Rembrandt's paintings were drawn from his early biographies and repeatedly attributed to the artist by the French writers: 'A painting is finished when the artists says that it is finished' and 'A painting is not made to be sniffed', but contemplated from a distance... ...These paintings were identified with the latter years of Rembrandt's life, the period in which critics said he suffered most from financial pressures and a lack of public acclaim. Works identified with these final years were the most popular in France during the last decades of the nineteenth century.
  • [Rembrandt] The most famous brand name in western art. In America alone it graces toothpaste, bracelet charms, restaurant and bars, countertops and of course the town of Rembrandt, Iowa just halfway around the world from the Rembrandt Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. Funny thing is Rembrandt might have been quite pleased with such widespread notoriety. (...) Rembrandt was a realist craftsman who showed off his craft to sell his work. His paintings brim with self-confidence as this in bold oil sketch of the entombment of Christ painted with an almost modern bravado. His drawings were dashed off with a Zen-like assurance. His etchings complete and elaborate works of art in themselves which sold in great quantity to two Dutch middle class.
  • One thing that really surprises me is the extent to which Rembrandt exists as a phenomenon in pop culture. You have this musical group call the Rembrandts, who wrote the theme song to Friends—'I'll Be There For You.' There are Rembrandt restaurants, Rembrandt hotels, art supplies and other things that are more obvious. But then there's Rembrandt toothpaste. Why on Earth would somebody name a toothpaste after this artist who's known for his really dark tonalities? It doesn't make a lot of sense. But I think it's because his name has become synonymous with quality. It's even a verb—there's a term in underworld slang, 'to be Rembrandted,' which means to be framed for a crime. And people in the cinema world use it to mean pictorial effects that are overdone. He's just everywhere, and people who don't know anything, who wouldn't recognize a Rembrandt painting if they tripped over it, you say the name Rembrandt and they already know that this is a great artist. He's become a synonym for greatness.
  • I gave up painting by 16. I secretly thought I would have been Rembrandt by then. I don't believe in genius. I believe in freedom. I think anyone can do it. Anyone can be like Rembrandt... Picasso, Michelangelo, possibly, might be verging on genius, but I don't think a painter like Rembrandt is a genius. It's about freedom and guts. It's about looking. It can be learned. That's the great thing about art. Anybody can do it if you just believe. With practice, you can make great paintings.
  • It's an exhilarating feeling, holding that painting, especially when you have studied it for so long and are now the sole proprietor of said piece. To an art lover, possessing a Rembrandt can be likened to winning the World Series, the Super Bowl, and the Stanley Cup all at once. You feel a real sense of almost being a part of the artist's mind.
  • Well, any draftsman knows about speed. I mean, Rembrandt drawings, you can see speed in them. I am interested in speed. I think most painters paint faster than they tell you.
  • There's a drawing by Rembrandt, I think it's the greatest drawing ever done. It's in the British Museum and it's of a family teaching a child to walk, so it's a universal thing, everybody has experienced this or seen it happen. Everybody. I used to print out Rembrandt drawings big and give them to people and say: 'If you find a better drawing send it to me. But if you find a better one it will be by Goya or Michelangelo perhaps.' But I don't think there is one actually. It's a magnificent drawing, magnificent.
  • His own house figures in many aspects of his work. This was his home, but it was also his workshop and his showroom. The most evocative room is his sunlit studio, where so many of his paintings evolved. In a way, it's still a workshop. Visitors are taught to make their own artworks here.
    • David de Witt (Chief Curator of [Rembrandthouse Museum, Amsterdam], 2015; as quoted on [Rembrandt House band: Showcase of the Dutch Master's pupils]
    • remark of David de Witt - showing around journalist William Cook in The Rembrandthouse in Amsterdam
  • The Chinese regarded not acknowledging the brush and the marks it makes as a bit crude; to them, that was trying to cover something up, so not such a high form of art. European art historians don't look at China very much. But I suspect Rembrandt must have known Chinese drawings, and had probably seen a few. Amsterdam was a port, and the Dutch were trading a great deal in the Far East. For example, a Chinese master looking at Rembrandt's drawing of a family, now in the British Museum, would recognise it as a masterwork. (...) The trace of Rembrandt's hand is still alive. Your eye can go back and forth between brown ink: sister; fast mark: mother. How rewarding this is, to move from the physical surface of the paper to its disappearance when you read the “subject”, and then back again. How many marvelous layers does this drawing have? The mother has a double profile, Picassoesque. Was it an accident with the pen that he then used as a master would? Both profiles are fascinating about her character. Her skirt is a bit ragged, without any real detail; one seems to know this, and then marvels at how these few lines suggest it. Then, there's a passing milkmaid, perhaps glancing at a very common scene, and we know the milk pail is full. You can sense the weight. Rembrandt perfectly and economically indicates this with – what? Six marks, the ones indicating her outstretched arm. Very few people could get near this. It is a perfect drawing.
  • In a way, Vermeer and Rembrandt are opposites. But Rembrandt is the greater artist, I think, because he's got more ingredients than Vermeer. Rembrandt put more in the face than anyone else ever has, before or since, because he saw more. And that was not a matter of using a camera. That was to do with his heart. The Chinese say you need three things for paintings: the hand, the eye and the heart. I think that remark is very, very good. Two won't do. A good eye and heart is not enough, neither is a good hand and eye. It applies to every drawing and painting Rembrandt ever made. His work is a great example of the hand, the eye – and the heart. There is incredible empathy in it.
  • Rembrandt is revered as one of the greatest and most important figures in the trajectory of art, and for good reason. He was, by design or nature, a revolutionary. As such he is perhaps a uniquely qualified interlocutor with other cultures and civilizations. (...) For the first time in the history of art, the painting speaks for itself. To put it another way, as Malraux phrased it, Rembrandt was the first to touch the soul with his paintings. He went well beyond the subject matter, which is only a pretense of sorts, to reach a more profound truth. As one watches the trajectory of his career arc, he is always stretching further and further in his paintings, to find his own concept of 'beauty'. That is why he was influential for future generations. By throwing off the confines of classicism, he freed others to push their own boundaries in the pursuit of beauty through their own conceptions of truth. (...) André Malraux described Rembrandt as prophet. He drew from the past to unleash the future. It is an exciting thought. Of course, he came to be seen as a metaphor for virtuosity. André Gide made a wonderful compliment to Dostoyevsky by claiming that he was the greatest novelist because he created portraits in his writings like Rembrandt painted.
  • on 'Christ Presented to the People' Rembrandt confronts us head on with the dramatic events described in the Bible. The Roman governor Pontius Pilate appears on the platform with his retinue. Beside him stand two prisoners, one of them Christ. The people are allowed to decide. On the extreme left of the platform someone stands ready with a jug of water. Pilate would wash his hands to demonstrate his innocence after the people had chosen.
    That Rembrandt used such a large copper plate to create this spectacular and strictly organized composition is admirable enough. He scored the angular and expressive lines of the many figures into the tough metal with a hard, sharp needle. But then he had the courage to remove large parts that had already been completed and start all over again.
  • Rembrandt is the most transparent artist I know. What he proclaimed as his credo, the commentaries of his contemporaries and what we find in the drawings all add up to one obsessively truthful, artist. One who proclaimed that he drew from nature (life) and 'anything else (invention) was worthless in his eyes'. He could not have been clearer, yet because this credo directly contradicts the apparent credo of our times: the more an artist differs from nature the more 'creative' that artist is, Rembrandt's true gift to us has been excised.
  • Rembrandt was the sharpest observer of human behavior. This is his amazing strength and needs to be studied. We cannot understand him if we deny his use of models and de-attribute half his output. He was the most important signpost for artists. Scholarly antics have pushed him into a position where he is no longer trusted by the young. I have been preaching the need for a paradigm shift in the mind-set of the tribe of art historians for years. They need to start by experiencing practical art for themselves, or at minimum, have the humility to listen to those who have.
  • My discoveries came as a result of practising art. For me Rembrandt's drawings exemplify above all others, the sculptural values of space and form. The scholars live in a world apart, reading each others books but refusing all correction from artists; alas, it is our history they are ravaging!
  • Rembrandt was on a continuous journey of discovery; not on a production line of consistent art objects for the market-place, as the scholars hope to recreate him. His wide ranging methods and interests produced very wide ranging quality. He did not tidy away his less successful works, nor should the scholars do so. He has left us the fullest record of his explorations of any artist and naturally his work includes many comparative failures. But astonishingly, even some of his greatest drawings have been mis-attributed to minor students.

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