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The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt

The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt: Reinventing an Old Master in 19th-century France

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 388
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  • Book Info
    The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt
    Book Description:

    Rembrandt's life and art had a mythical resonance among ninetheenth-century French artists, writers and collectors. Artists and critics used Rembrandt's artistic persona as a benchmark and justification for their own goals and some reconstructed and falsified history while making making Rembrandt and ancestral figure whom they heralded as their talisman. This study, the first in-depth examination of the reception of Rembrandt in nineteenth-century France, analyzes the preoccupation with his perceived authenticity, originality and republicanism. This innovative book considers the written texts, prints, sculpture, painting, posters, and theatrical performances that demonstrate the growing power of the myth of Rembrandt.|The first in-depth overview of the perception of Rembrandt among the French 19th-century intelligentsia|A fascinating investigation of the circumstances in France that fostered present-day debates over Rembrandt's art

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0523-4
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
    (pp. 7-10)
    (pp. 11-14)
  5. INTRODUCTION Reassessing Rembrandt
    (pp. 15-28)

    This book offers the first comprehensive study of Rembrandt in nineteenth-century France, the country and century that held an incomparable position historically as the nexus of European art education, art criticism and its related construction of the canon of Old Master artists, and was also the center of an increasingly powerful commercial art market. Rembrandt’s life and art, particularly his paintings and prints, had mythic resonance among nineteenth-century French artists, writers, and collectors. Although the academic establishment favored Old Masters such as Raphael throughout the period, Rembrandt had particular appeal for artists seeking to explore new subject matter and techniques....

  6. CHAPTER 1 REINVENTING THE BIOGRAPHY, CREATING THE MYTH The Formation of Rembrandt’s Artistic Persona in Nineteenth-Century France
    (pp. 29-64)

    Dutch and flemish art of the seventeenth century has always been a subject of interest and attention for French artists, critics, and collectors and was a favored part of the royal collections of Louis XIV, XV, and XVI even though, during these reigns, the northern schools were not as sought after as the French and Italian schools. A marked increase in attention was paid to Dutch and Flemish art after the Revolution of 1789 when the prices of northern art rose at French auctions. French artists, such as Guérard, Boilly, Drolling and David, also increasingly followed the meticulously detailed painting...

    (pp. 65-80)
  8. CHAPTER 2 POLITICIZING REMBRANDT An Exemplar for New Aesthetic Values, Realism, and Republicanism
    (pp. 81-122)

    The multifaceted identity french critics and artists refashioned for Rembrandt created an artistic persona that fulfilled their own needs. He became a figure they could call upon to validate and promote both the aesthetic and political principles they advocated for contemporary French art and society. The growing acceptance and appreciation of Rembrandt’s art was related, in part, to a questioning and reevaluation of prescriptive aesthetic values in the visual arts. The political dimension to the recreation of Rembrandt came about when several writers used him in an attempt to bolster their call for art to take a radical socio-political role...

  9. CHAPTER 3 PICTURING THE MYTH Rembrandt’s Body and Images of the Old Master Artist
    (pp. 123-156)

    After eighteen months of detective work and pleading letters, one sunny spring day I walked past uniformed armed guards, through magnificent stone gates and into the Assemblée Nationale, a majestic building facing across the Seine River to Place de la Concorde. I would finally see here Pierre Nolasque Bergeret’sRembrandt in his Studio[fig. 9], one of the surviving images of Rembrandt’s life from the nineteenth century. Sequestered in a bureaucrat’s office and enjoyed by only a small number of politicians and government employees, this precisely painted work is a feast for the eyes. Its warm colors evoke the atmosphere...

  10. CHAPTER 4 REMBRANDT THE “MASTER” PRINTMAKER Choosing an Ancestral Figure for French Painter-Printmakers
    (pp. 157-214)

    Scholars usually refer to rembrandt’s “influence” on French printmakers as if it were a natural phenomenon. Because of the perception of Rembrandt’s stature today, many assume he was always regarded asthemaster printmaker. Rembrandt’s prints have certainly been popular since his lifetime. But the position he was assigned in nineteenth-century France astheleading past master of etching was more a constructed phenomenon than one that evolved naturally. Rembrandt’s status as the emblem of the etching revival in France was carefully negotiated for him through the self-conscious efforts of French critics and artists through their print treatises, publications, associations,...

  11. CHAPTER 5 THE REMBRANDT STRATEGY Etchers and Engravers Fashion their Professional Identities
    (pp. 215-282)

    From the 1860s through the 1880s, french print treatises, critics, and members of print societies provided the final impetus in the formation of the cult of Rembrandt, positioning him as an iconic figure and a talisman for printmakers. Rembrandt was regarded as the archetypal painter-printmaker because of both his artistic achievements and his technical proficiency. He was known as an individualist and an original, self-taught etcher who used exotic papers, printed his own plates, and treated a copper plate with the freedom of a canvas. Thus the challenges he had faced and the goals he had sought to achieve were...

  12. CONCLUSION Repercussions of the Cult of Rembrandt
    (pp. 283-296)

    Rembrandt’s popularity in France grew until it reached a cult-like level during the second half of the nineteenth century. His artistic persona was reinvented as French critics and artists realized they could use aspects of his life and art to promote their own goals. This concentrated interest in Rembrandt, particularly between the 1850s and the 1890s, was hardly disinterested. Rembrandt’s name and the images he produced were empowered and endowed with meaning that encompassed anti-authoritarian conduct, personal and political liberalism, republicanism, originality, and innovative creative powers. This identity was forged not because of an impartial desire to laud an underrecognized...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 299-346)
  14. APPENDIX Interpretive Prints after Rembrandt
    (pp. 347-354)
    (pp. 355-374)
    (pp. 375-378)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 379-388)