The 'learned eye' or oculus eruditus was a concept used by seventeenth-century writers on painting. It illustrated their view that the ideal artist was not only skilled in painting techniques, but also had knowledge of the history of art and an interest in poetry and literature. In this book, dedicated to Rembrandt scholar Ernst van de Wetering, the 'learned eye' refers to the experienced eye of the art historian, the curator, or the restorer. More specifically, the concept explains an issue central to understanding seventeenth-century art and its context: the artist's concern with the intellectual and social status of his profession. The book contains contributions on Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Frans Hals, Poussin and others, all linked by the theme of the 'learned eye', focusing on studio practice, theory of art, or the development of the artist's self-image. These themes reflect the scope of research and teaching of Ernst van de Wetering who first trained as an artist before becoming an art historian. Since 1987 he has been professor of art history at the University of Amsterdam, and, for more than ten years, the inspiring leader of the Rembrandt Research Project. The importance of starting with the art object itself is a familiar concept to anyone who has attended the lectures of Ernst van de Wetering, whose own familiarity with the painter's craft, with Rembrandt's studio practice, and the history of art has 'opened the eyes' of many. This book brings together essays by some of Van de Wetering's students, colleagues and friends, who were influenced in different ways by his approach to the art of painting. The contributors touch on four main issues. The first concerns material aspects of the work of art. Second, these findings are confronted with the rules of art that were recorded by contemporaries. Third, the 'learned eye' figures as part of the artists' desire to enhance the status of their profession. The fourth issue situates painting in its context of patrons and art lovers, who wanted to learn the basic principles of painting and obtain 'eruditos oculos' themselves.
Subjects: Art & Art History
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