How to Spot a Rembrandt

How to Spot a Rembrandt
I’ve mentioned before (also here) that the attribution of works to artists from the past is often an inexact science, perhaps more of an art in itself.

Attributions change, and works once identified with one artist are subsequently assigned to another, or often, to pupils of the artist. Sometimes the reverse happens, and works once assigned to another hand are recognized as coming from that of the master.

The Getty Museum is currently exploring this concept with an exhibit titled Drawings by Rembrandt & His Pupils: Telling the Difference.

In the web site material for the exhibit is an interactive that compares drawings by Rembrandt side by side with similar drawings by his students and contemporaries; many of the latter drawings having once been attributed to Rembrandt.

The Wall Street Journal has an article about the exhibit that also has an interactive. In this case they present the compared sets of drawings without initially identifying the artist, letting you play detective in determining which is by Rembrandt. (It’s hard to predict if this article may disappear behind a pay-wall at some point.)

The interactive on the Getty’s site allows you to zoom in on the images, affording a detailed view of the drawings.

Drawings by Rembrandt & His Pupils: Telling the Difference runs to February 28th at the Getty Center. There is a concurrent exhibit, Drawing Life: The Dutch Visual Tradition, that should provide a rich context for the Rembrandt show.

There is also a virtual exhibit called Rembrandt in Southern California, that features images of 14 Rembrandts on view in five Southern California Museums.

For more background, and lots more Rembrandt drawings, see Rembrandt’s Drawings on Jonathan Janson’s Rembrandt van Rijn: Life and Work, and my posts on that site (formerly called Rembrandt: life, paintings, etchings, drawings and self portraits), and Jonathan Janson.

There is a book published to accompany the exhibit: Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils: Telling the Difference; and there is also a nice book of Rembrandt drawings that came out in 2007: Rembrandt Drawings: 116 Masterpieces in Original Color.

5 Replies to “How to Spot a Rembrandt”

  1. I just stumbled across this article , sure wish I could have seen this exhibit at the Getty . The interactive tool on the linked article are cool.

    Thanks for sharing

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