Saturday, December 19, 2009

More Rembrandt landscape etchings

Here I am ,vertical. Is this how swine feel all of the time?" I hope what I write makes sense, I am running a fever. There are sullen rabbits clucking at me from the corners of the room, "fraud, deceiver, wurlitzer!" Fie! on ye, Shuffler of slippers! Dugong!
OK, lets see...... Rembrandts father was a miller, like Constables oddly. The mill above is lovingly observed, but I am surprised at how he placed it against the side of the picture like that. I guess that pole that protrudes from its right hand edge with the rope saves it. If I cover the pole with my shaking febrile hand the design seems weakened. The shapes of the blades of the windmill are beautiful and I guess he gets away with it all. Rembrandt was familiar with oriental wood block art, the tea that came from the east was wrapped in it. I suppose this bizarre design is taken from woodbock prints from the orient. Etchings have been particularly influenced by oriental design. Amsterdam's trade made it a crossroads of culture.

This next piece is a little gem though. Here Rembrandt is using the arabesque or the decorative outline of the quaint cottage to make his design go. The varied and wandering outline is full of charm. The little guy to the right of the house is indicated by the rising line that sweeps around the front of the house to point him out. That springy slightly concave line the guy is walking on is nice too. Its rhythmic. Usually using concave lines in a landscape is dangerous but here Rembrandt has done it. This house must have been thought of as charming and quaint in Rembrandt's day. Notice the strong reflected light enlivening the right hand wall of the structure. That takes away any feeling of heaviness and substitutes a glow that seems warm and welcoming. I can feel the sun bouncing around in there.

Here's another little piece of pastoral lowlands country. On the right a little man carries buckets with a yoke. All of these etchings were made to appeal to a middle class merchant society that arose from the trade out of Amsterdam in the 1600's. Artists before this had mostly worked for popes and aristocrats who wanted something very different than the scenes that would have been familiar to Rembrandt's clientele. The country side and home and hearth sort of themes are characteristic of a democratic art. Instead of gods and mythological ruins, we have simple everyday life presented unadorned and truthfully.
Our own art of America was later to be built on the same model. I have always felt that the influence of Dutch painting on American art has been under appreciated.
There you have it. A blog post. Now I am taking my mumbling, hissing, fever bunnies and going back to bed.
images from


Deborah Paris said...

What I love about Rembrandt's landscape etchings is, well, everything, but particularly rhythm and line. That beautiful varied top line of the cottages in the second one echoed by the sweeping lane that circles around and behind it. Gorgeous! Thank you for posting it Stape and for staying at your post despite your fevered brow.

Gregory Becker said...

Hope you feel better soon Stape. I recently looked at all of the works on the Art Renewal site. I enjoy your commentary that goes along with the works. I always end up seeing things I hadn't considered.

Philip Koch said...

Despite your weakened condition ( or who knows, maybe because of it) you are in top form in selecting for our viewing pleasure some rock star level landscape etchings.

Totally am with you on what you say about the windmill etching. Wonderful little design ideas working very hard for Rembrandt in that piece, as you describe.

Jo-Ann Sanborn said...

Chicken soup, chicken soup! Wishing you better soon.

billspaintingmn said...

Stape, you sound like your strenght
is returning.
Please get well soon.
These Rembrandt landscape etchings
are enjoyable.
The detail & "story telling" along
with your commentaries makes for a
Christmas story all it's own!
Merry Christmas "09"

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

Here I am at my post. I am still sick but I am partially functional.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That is an odd little piece. I don't know why he did what he did. I guess it works though.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I a have no strength right now. I am running on over the counter cold medications and stored body fat.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Chicken soup is worse than the disease. Soup is not food.

willek said...

Stape... Believe Jo-Ann about the piping hot chicken soup.

(I am trying, Jo-Ann, but sometimes you can only lead that horse to the water, then it is up to the horse...)

Stapleton Kearns said...

Willek has got a thing about birds, pay him no attention.