Rembrandt and His School: A Critical Study of the Master and His Pupils with a New Assignment of Their Pictures

Rembrandt and His School: A Critical Study of the Master and His Pupils with a New Assignment of Their Pictures

Rembrandt and His School: A Critical Study of the Master and His Pupils with a New Assignment of Their Pictures

Rembrandt and His School: A Critical Study of the Master and His Pupils with a New Assignment of Their Pictures

Excerpt

So far back as 1883 my notes on the pictures in European galleries indicate that I was sceptical of the Rembrandt attributions and the Rembrandt tradition. At that time I was studying art from the painter's point of view, and was directly interested in brushwork and the manipulation of paint. I could not understand the variety of ways in which Rembrandt handled a surface, why he found it necessary to use so many different styles and methods, why he was weak and strong, smooth and rough, cramped and flowing, all in the same year. I wondered if "Rembrandt" were not a cloak covering the work of many pupils.

In 1895, in writing the text for Timothy Cole Engravings of Old Dutch Masters, I ventured to suggest, tentatively, that many of the Rembrandt School pictures were doing service as Rembrandts. It was not, however, until 1911, when preparing myNew Guides to Old Masters, that I was able to say positively that the work of twenty or more pupils was confused with that of Rembrandt, and that the Rembrandt tradition was a strange mixture of fact and fiction. At that time I pointed out by name and number a great many erroneously attributed "Rembrandts," and insisted that the whole Rembrandt 3uvre was a huge snowball that had gathered to itself the work of the school, and that every turn of the ball added new ingredients to the mass. To-day, in putting forth this book, I have endeavored to break up the ball and return the different parts to their original producers. The work (if it has been rightly done) should lead to a reconstruction of the school and a better understanding not only of Rembrandt's pupils but of Rembrandt himself.

In rearranging the pictures I have allowed them to fall where they would. I have had no theory to enforce and have sought merely that pictures of a kind, æsthetically, mentally, and technically, should go together. Names have not prejudiced me and in the distribution Rembrandt has been allowed to fare the same as Bol or Horst or Eeckhout. The result of the rearrangement has been that thirty or more groups of pictures have formed . . .

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