Monday, July 9, 2007

Rembrandt on The Power of Art

Rembrandt self-portrait
Rembrandt is the subject of the PBS/BBC program The Power of Art being broadcast tonight on most PBS stations here in the US.

I’ve had plenty to say about Rembrandt in the past, so I’ll leave you with those posts and the subject of the first of them, www.rembrandtpainting.net, which is probably the most comprehensive Rembrandt site on the web, and a self-portrait, above, from 1640 (larger version here), which shows Rembrandt as an artist confident of his mastery, and perhaps comparing his ability to that of Hans Holbein the Younger.

We’ll have to see what Simon Schama does in trying to tell his story with off-kilter camerawork and melodramatic, grimacing actors.

3 thoughts on “Rembrandt on The Power of Art

  1. Dan van Benthuysen

    While I suppose there is some similarity to the Holbein image, most art historians so far have focused on Rembrandt’s elbow that projects from the ledge and have linked this self-portrait to Titian’s portrait known as Ariosto (www.all-art.org/baroque/portrait1.html)

    or to Raphael’s portrait of Baldasare Castiglione (http://www.artchive.com/artchive/R/raphael/raphael_castiglione.jpg.html),

    Both are paintings Rembrandt is known to have seen at auction in Amsterdam in the year before he painted the wonderful self-portrait you show here.

    Regarding the Schama series, I have to say that even with the grimacing actors I find myself predisposed to like any tv series about art simply because there is so little about the subject aired. I’ll stay tuned for the rest even if Mark Rothko seems out of place in this company. I also think that what the wacky camera angles and grimacing actors really demonstrate more than anything else is that television is not a medium in which Schama is yet comfortable. (You can’t for example imagine Ken Burns telling these stories this way.) That’s too bad because Schama is a terrific writer and I do think he has done a mostly good job of condensing some of these artist’s lives and art into an hour.

  2. Charley Parker Post author

    I have to say that I liked the Rembrandt eposide best so far, perhaps because it fell back less on actors (and did not presume to present Rembrandt himself) and more on the work and Schama’s spoken essay.

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