Rembrandt: The Painter at Work

Rembrandt: The Painter at Work

Rembrandt: The Painter at Work

Rembrandt: The Painter at Work


Rembrandt's paintings have been admired throughout
centuries for their artistic freedom. But Rembrandt was
also a craftsman whose painting technique was rooted in
the tradition. This revised new edition is the fruit of lifelong
study of Rembrandt's working methods, his intellectual
approach to the art of painting and the organization of his
studio. Van de Wetering demonstrates how this knowledge
can be used to answer questions about authenticity and
other art-historical issues. Some 350 illustrations, half
of which are reproduced in colour, make this book into
a monumental tribute to one of the world's most
important painters.


Is every 'Rembrandt' a Rembrandt? That question triggered the founding of the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) in 1968. NWO, the Dutch national research foundation and the University of Amsterdam enabled the scholars and scientists involved to pursue this ambitious project of multidisciplinary research.

Whether a 'Rembrandt' always is a Rembrandt was not a new question. It had already been raised during Rembrandt's lifetime; for instance, when a work that looked like his had to be catalogued for an auction or an inventory. At one auction in The Hague in 1648‐ Rembrandt was 42 at the time - the question was: is this particular painting a 'principael' — an autograph prototype — or a work 'after' Rembrandt?

Situations of this kind have recurred many times over the centuries, right up to the present, by which time there was a further complication. Not only are there works by his contemporaries in Rembrandt's style that can be been mistaken for originals, there are also later imitations to contend with, while on the other hand the originals sometimes have been so badly disfigured by later 'restorations' that they have virtually become unrecognizable as Rembrandts.

Whereas the disputations of the connoisseurs in such instances had usually been based on arguments over quality and style, the RRP from the outset tried to employ technical arguments as well.

However, technical criteria of authenticity could only be developed while closely assessing the paintings themselves, if possible with the help of X-radiographs and other technical information. And there lie the roots of this book.

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