Just a fortnight before Christmas, 1871, a young man, twenty-four years of age, returned home to his dinner about eight o'clock in the evening. He was married, and with him and his wife lived his wife's sister. At that somewhat late hour he walked in among the two young women, and another much older woman who was preparing the table for dinner. The wife and the wife's sister each had a child in her lap, the elder having seen some fifteen months of its existence, and the younger three months. "He has been out since seven, and I don't think he's had a mouthful," the wife had just said. "Oh, Harry, you must be half starved," she exclaimed, jumping up to greet him, and throwing her arm round his bare neck.
In Volume IV the focus lies on Rembrandt's self-portraits. During this research it became obvious that matters of authenticity cannot be viewed separately from questions relating to the original function and meaning of these works. Rembrandt's intriguing life-long practice of portraying himself in front of a mirror is examined in depth in this volume. As a result, not only has the group of approximately forty painted self-portraits gained transparency, but also new insights have been developed regarding Rembrandt's drawn and etched self-portraits. The problems of authenticity relating to a substantial number of self-portraits which in the past were attributed to Rembrandt, in this volume receive an unexpected nuance: through a combination of technical and stylistic research it is demonstrated that some of Rembrandt's self-portraits were in fact painted by others in his workshop.In clear and accessible explanatory texts the different paintings are discussed. Among the many illustrations are life-size colour reproductions of the faces of the self-portraits under discussion. Details are shown where possible, as well as the results of modern day technical imaging like X-radiography. The volume contains an -- in several respects eye-opening -- essay by the head of the Rembrandt Research Project, Ernst van de Wetering, on the problems of authenticity and function of Rembrandt's self-portraits. In addition, the book includes groundbreaking contributions by Marieke den Winkel on the meaning of dress and costume in Rembrandt's self-portraits, by Karin Groen on the use of grounds in Rembrandt's workshop and in paintings by his contemporaries, and a study by Jaap van der Veen concerning 17th-century ideas about authenticity in art.This reference work should be part of every serious art historical institute, university or museum. The enigma of Rembrandt's self-portraits, one of the most compelling phenomena in art history has been unravelled by Ernst van de Wetering with unprecedented thoroughness.
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