"Save Rembrandt from the Experts"
Nigel Konstam Exposes the Errors of Modern Rembrandt Scholarship

Modern Criticism

Take this link for a short introductory video explaining the shortcomings of Modern Art Criticism taking the example of a FAKE drawing hailed by experts as a Rembrandt masterpiece.

MODERN CRITICISM AND THE MISINTERPRETATION OF REMBRANDT

In Note 2 (of the Synopsis) Prof. Van de Wetering says basically - we have no time for the earlier interpreters of Rembrandt because we have built a whole edifice around style, we do not want to get involved in the humanity of the man, we are scientific" we deal with style.

The scholars are concerned to find a rational development in Rembrandt's style. To achieve this they have deattributed works that do not fit with their conceptions but in the mirror section I demonstrate that their conceptions are mistaken. Drawings that they have dated nearly 20 years apart were in all probability done within days of one another. The difference in style was due to the difference in stimulus: observing in a poor quality reflective surface, or observing direct from life.

There is a radical change of style in Rembrandt's paintings that develops more or less chronologically. It was reasonable to suppose that there might be a parallel development in his drawings but the discovery of Rembrandt's use of mirrors shows that the development of his drawing style is not as simple as the scholars imagine.

DAVID APPOINTS SOLOMON
David Appoints Solomon
Take link David anoints Solomon for commentary on this example.

In this drawing of David appointing Solomon as his successor we are looking at a great drawing that has not been accepted as a Rembrandt since 1922; yet its provenance is near perfect. It has been in the collection of the Dukes of Devonshire for 300 years. One can see that Bathsheba's head has caused problems. One can also see that Solomon's acolyte is less than satisfactory, the rest is pure brilliant Rembrandt. As an illustration of the event as told in the Bible it is incomparable. We see the gratitude and love of Solomon � the slight unwillingness and the weakness of old age in David � and, though the head is a blot, - we can feel the pressure that Bathsheba has put upon David to appoint her son as successor, (he was not first in line of succession). I would say it is one of the greatest drawings ever made.

When I examine the peripheral material I am utterly convinced that it is the work of Rembrandt. The bed-post is great and typical � the drapery above conveys the feeling of diaphanous material � by contrast the robe of Solomon tells us with a few lines that it is made of a heavy velvet � we can read the pose of the figure beneath perfectly. It conveys gratitude and reverence for his father. The experts see the blot that is Bathsheba's head but not the sublime quality of the drawing as illustration. As a fellow artist I find it reassuring that Rembrandt, even when on top form, was not able to achieve the head of Bathsheba or the acolyte with the panache we see in David. The Solomon was perfected after a struggle. It would be wise to learn to judge this and similar drawings by their successes and be as tolerant of the lapses as Rembrandt was himself. He was not a perfectionist. It is one of the secrets of his creativity.

Further example - The Virgin and Child - Rembrandt Drawing

 

  • 23:00 - 09.04.2007

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    The recent 2 x 60min Channel 4 documentary (shown July 21st, 28th 2007)
    (made by Lion Television) including Nigel Konstam's contribution to our understanding of the art of ancient Greece (the revolutionary demonstration of why we can be certain that Phidias and his workshop used body casts as the basis of there life-size, sculptural compositions) in Part II.


    You can see the whole story in my book;- SCULPTURE, the Art and the Practice, 2nd edition ISBN 0 – 9523568 or, less completely, on the website www.verrocchio.co.uk

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  • 10:57 - 04.07.2008

    See Nigel's YouTube Contribution to the campaign to unseat Sir Nicholas from his 21 Year reign at the Tate Gallery London. Sir Nicholas Serota Considers a New Aquisition for the Tate Gallery

    Take this link

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  • 08:14 - 16.02.2010

    Nigel's new YouTube Video comments on the Getty Exhibition of 2010 Rembrandt and Bol

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  • 10:29 - 24.11.2008

    Take link to see video
    Recent video (Takes only 2 minutes to watch) by Nigel Konstam

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  • 09:53 - 12.10.2007

    Click here to watch 5 minute video on the Adoration

    National Gallery Rejects The Adoration

     National Gallery Rejects The Adoration - see video on its web site

    There are two versions of The Adoration of the Shepherds, one in Munich and the second in the National Gallery (London). Both were once attributed to Rembrandt: The Munich version is still a Rembrandt. The London version has been de-attributed by the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) in spite of the fact that the National Gallery experts examination of the materials confirmed that the painting was from Rembrandt's studio. The object of this demonstration is to prove that the London painting is truly a Rembrandt though the RRP insists that this version cannot possibly be by him.

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    On the right of the photograph you see a maquette made from the figures and architecture in the Munich painting, that Rembrandt observed and painted direct from life. A cow and a basket also form a part of the composition.

    The reflected part of the photograph you see in the mirror (on the left) matches up with the subject matter of the London painting to such a degree that we cannot doubt that Rembrandt (or whoever else was painting from Rembrandt's precise position) painted what he saw in the mirror. As the use of a mirror can be demonstrated many times in Rembrandt's accepted drawings it is most rational to assume that Rembrandt stayed in the same position and painted both paintings; probably concurrently, with the same palette and brushes.

    It is amusing to note that while the humans are static, only the cow moved: the hats of the figures remain the same, the basket on the post is seen in elevation in the Munich version and in plan in the London version, the lantern is still carried by the man with the broad brimmed hat, lots of tiny details are transmuted but most of all the infinitely complex space relationship between the figures remains constant.

    By understanding the extreme complexity of the task of constructing the London subject from the Munich painting, we can be certain that a mirror was used.(This is no simple print image. It is a reversal of a new point of view of the same very complex, three dimensional group we see in the Munich painting.) From this understanding we not only regain a lost Rembrandt, we demonstrate that the impressionistic style of the London painting is also Rembrandt's. Thus widening the stylistic spectrum that has been imposed arbitarily by the RRP.

    Furthermore it is proved that Rembrandt worked from a theatrical-type production. I believe he set up live models dressed with costumes (mentioned in his inventory of 1656) in the adoration paintings, I believe the scene was staged in a barn. These tableaux-vivants, the very life's blood of Rembrandt's work as artist and teacher, are implicitly denied by the RRP and their followers, who are keepers of Rembrandt drawings in the museums: a fundamental error, which invalidates many of the experts' judgements over the last 100 years.

     

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    Two legitimate questions may arise from this demonstration 1. did mirrors of this size exist in Rembrandt's time? Answer � not made from one sheet of glass � this large mirror was probably made of polished metal. And 2. Why should he work from an inadequate reflection of his models when he had a group to observe direct from life? Answer � Rembrandt was not alone in the barn. There are student versions of this same scene, both drawn and painted, that show that students were working side by side with the master, each with their own individual viewpoint. This would have inhibited Rembrandt's freedom to move himself or change the group of models. Alternatively, it may just be Rembrandt's explorative spirit that drove him to this single experiment, which he never repeated in painting, but many times while drawing.

     

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    If you have doubts please look at the rest of this website before submitting your questions.

    It is my belief that the other end of the spectrum of style in Rembrandt's paintings should also be redefined by testing a painting in The Wallace Collection: The Uncharitable Servant. This painting was once the most highly valued Rembrandt in the world. It has been described as Rembrandt at the extreme limits of his ability, it is not typical of Rembrandt but Rembrandt is a most varied artist and we need to define the outer limits of his variability as precisely as possible. If The Uncharitable Servant, was put through autoradiographic tests this would show us the way the painting had been built up right from the original drawing on canvas, thus establishing a clear attribution. The result of this could be to re-inflate Rembrandt's oeuvres and reputation back to where they both stood 50 years ago. If the London painting turns out not to be a Rembrandt the case for widening the spectrum towards a loose impressionistic style remains imperative.

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