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Rembrandt and the Italian Renaissance [PDF]

by Kenneth Clark
Prof. Kenneth Clark, perhaps best known as the narrator of the BBC Civilisation TV series, first lectured on Rembrandt at Oxford in 1947. He wrote this book in 1966 after he'd had a chance to think on it awhile. He freely admits in his Foreword that his academic specialty is not art history, per se. Ah well, we should all be such talented dilettantes (and in my humble opinion, some art historians should damn well lighten up).
Clark's central thesis is that Rembrandt borrowed heavily from Renaissance masters and their predecessors, the painters of the Quattrocento (15th century), which would include Leonardo da Vinci.
This is as much a book about the creative process as it is about styles of painting. It's also about the evolution of Humanism as a motivating force in artistic themes.
I learned two startling things. First, Rembrandt's experience of other paintings was to buy them at auction and take them home to his private collection. Is it any wonder he was so often broke? And apparently he paid top dollar, presumably not only to make sure he won the prize but also to honor the artists. He was not alone in this habit of collecting fine art and sumptuous found objects such as silk clothes and furs to put on his models. Other artists did the same because many did not travel and there were no public museums at the time. Fortunately for the sake of their exposure to antiquities from all over the world, Amsterdam was an active trading port, and the auction houses there were continuously replenished with new consignments.
Second stunner - Clark argues persuasively that Rembrandt borrowed certain themes, subject matter, styles, and techniques from *paintings he could never have seen.* That's plausible because we not only have the inventory of his collection (reproduced in the book), but also some of his presumedsources were never on exhibit anywhere near Amsterdam.
Clark's conclusion is something like "great minds think alike" - or, touching on common themes, different artists can find similar solutions independently. The great Theosophist Roger Weir, who recommends this book, offers a more esoteric explanation - namely that the cognoscenti learn to "see through" a story or a text or a work of art to discern its genesis in something like the collective unconscious.
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Book info

eBook formatHardcover, (torrent)En
PublisherNew York University Press
File size5.2 Mb
Release date 01.01.1966
Pages count225
Book rating4.39 (13 votes)
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1 comment

1. Persia Emily | 04.01.2018 17:33

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Thank you! Great book!

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