My Xmas present for myself was a handsome volume of all of Rembrandt’s paintings published by Taschen.
My plan was that I would have an hour to myself to savour these wondrous works.
Yet when I did so it was with a slight feeling of disappointment.
The problem with Rembrandt is that he produced so many self-portraits which I had already viewed that much of what I saw lacked immediacy.
Rembrandt produced over 600 works and to put that in context Johannes Vermeer only 39.
There are biblical scenes, portraits commissioned and of him, landscapes and etchings as, like Durer, he was a marvellous draughtsman.
Although his life, particularly the financial side of it was uneven he was always a popular and rated artist, unlike say Caravaggio who was rediscovered in the twentieth century.
Rembrandt’s reputation was constant.
Unable really to manage his financial affairs his son Titus came to his rescue by in effect giving him an allowance. Sadly Titus predeceased him so soon after he was back on the road to penury.
The Golden Age of Dutch Art marked a significant change in the artist. Beforehand he was more reliant on patrons and commissions.
In the Netherlands he worked out of his studio, did more every-day scenes and had to sell his output to the public. That may be why the age produced a significant portraitist like Franz van Hals following on from Anthony van Dyck as this genre is sell-able.
It never had a painter like Rubens who was multi-lingual and had a huge studio, a diplomat and international businessman who produced large canvases to order mainly done by his assistants.
The artist as businessman with large studio still exists with Damien Hirst but not in the Golden Age of Dutch Art.