Rembrandt, Portrait of the Artist, 1665, oil on canvas, 45 x47 inches (courtesy English Heritage, The Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood, via Met Museum)
Thomas Micchelli writes about Rembrandt's Self-Portrait from Kenwood House, London, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York through May 20, 2012.
Micchelli notes: "This painting is one of the artist's richest and most profound self-portraits, rendered in earth tones softly illuminated by raking, flaxen light. Rembrandt, who would live for only three or four more years, may be staring mortality in the face, but his expression bespeaks stillness and calm, even as his posture – chest forward and arms akimbo — betrays a subtle, ineradicable haughtiness."
Naves writes "As a study in contrasts, the Met exhibition has its uses. Degas' exercises in self-portraiture are heady and pitiless, their rigor is risky, pointed and sure. Psychological insight wasn’t alien to Degas' vision, but neither was it a driving force. Rembrandt, on the other hand, couldn’t make a mark without embodying a distinctive and inquisitive generosity of spirit."
The exhibition centers around Rembrandt's refusal to paint Jesus according to convention. Kirsch writes: "around 1648... [Rembrandt] broke with the convention, well-established in Western Europe... of portraying Christ as fair haired with aquiline features - more or less a visual descendent of a Greek god. Rembrandt looked to his Jewish neighbors in Amsterdam for a more likely model."
The show includes paintings, drawings and prints as well as works by Rembrandt's pupils.
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.