Updated: Nov 23, 2020
If I was to ever choose a favorite artist in history or even currently I think my answer would always be Rembrandt. His use of lighting, textures and skill is a level of mastery I would love to achieve. I've always had a fascination with him even when I was young. I am not sure when it began, but for as long as I can remember I've always looked up to him. It doesn't take long to fall in love with his work either and to see why many others like me maybe obsessed with him too.
I finally made my way down to Oxford to see the Young Rembrandt exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum. I was excited! I refused to view the collection online although the whole exhibition is on their website. I wanted to be surprised and not ruin it for myself. I learnt that the work in the exhibition was from his early years hence the title...however it was from the age of 16 that he started studying to become an artist and he studied for 3 and a half years. The pieces on display in the exhibition was from his early career, we are told the pieces on display span about a 10 year period and you can REALLY see his exciting progression. It seemed effortless for min, his creativity and play of light. His accuracy and skill. He was gifted to say the least.
We also see work by some of his students as well as his own friend and competitor that lived in his town. We are told that Jan Lievens worked with Rembrandt on a few pieces and was an even better painter than Rembrandt himself. He sometimes would finish Rembrandt's paintings and they would paint each other. This really encouraged and pushed him to drastically improve.
Let me not gush anymore and share with you some of my favorite pieces from the exhibition and possibly try to show you though my eyes what I admire and studied during my visit.
I will say I hated the lighting in the gallery and it was absolutely frustrating to take images of the waintings.
The woman in black was said to be a portrait of a woman but modelled after his mother. This has to be one of my favorites from the exhibition. I love the fabric and her thin fragile skin. The details in the fabric and the choice of his lighting on her as well as the expression.
The detail in the fabrics and jewellery are breathtaking. The way he uses thick paint to almost emboss the fabric than use a sharp end of a brush the etch out details.
The opening image of the exhibition is this one. It's deeply inspiring to me as a small painting and really commanded its own respect. I love how hardly 20% of this portrait is in light yet it's still captivating to me. It has inspired me to paint my own self portrait in a similar lighting style. A little smaller than his, about 3.5x3.5. I am excited and inspired to continue this project!
This is the painting above that is inspiring my Rembrandt style self portrait. On the left is my sketch on grey paper and then I drew the image again on linen. Some drawing adjustments need to be made to the final drawing on linen however I will film the process and hopefully commence with the underpainting soon!