REMBRANDT, IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC

The Story surrounding ‘Rembrandt in a Time of Pandemic’  

Self portrait of Matthew Moss_watercolour_detail
MATTHEW MOSS, self-portrait. Watercolour, sepia, ink, graphite, brush, reed pen. Image flipped right.

The legendary Ariadne, an ancient Athenian heroine fascinated me as a child: her adventure, helping the Greek hero Theseus to escape from labyrinth in Crete using a length of thread she had previously fixed to theentrance as a means of escape, having killed the fearsome monster, the Minotaur. It formed part of an ancient illustrated book that a cultured German neighbour, holed up In wartime Dublin cjty, gave me. The book contained multiple fine line drawings that illustrated the text of popular Greek legends As a seven year old child the images were the first time I was conscious of the emotional power significant beautiful artistic creations could create.

Titian Bacchanal 1523-1524
TITIAN: Bacchanal of the Andrii, 1523-1526, oil on canvas 175 x 193 cm. Madrid, Prado Museum

The Bacchanal of the Andrians, oil on canvas by Titian signed and dated to 1523–1526, Feast of the Gods by Bellini, 1524–1525 and, later, Rembrandt’s Danaë,  Hermitage museum, sleeping figure 1640 refer to the Sleeping Ariadne housed in the Vatican Museum, a Roman copy of a Greek sculpture, from the period of Alexander the Great. The Wilton House Ariadne, now in the San Antonio Museum of Art is considered the version of the Pergamum original, least modified. The final years of Islam in Portugal left some cultural Islamic art presence visible in Romanesque sculpture where statues of Christian female saints often have veil covering part of the face. In the lower left section of the watercolour Moss introduced a similar Sleeping Danaë,using the rare and costly Lapis Lazuli; Its characteristic deep blue  gives importance to the masked figure. Her face likewise covered. But, in this case, the mask is probably a necessary protection against the devastating Corona virus. The Sleeping Danaë has her left foot is linked to the right foot of the central figure, Rembrandt. In other figures present in the painting, the artist adopted cobalt blue to render figures and their garments.

T

Rembrandt’s Belshezzar ‘writing on the wall’

Rembrandt prevailing over the bottom center of the action, is taken by surprise by the invasion. He holds a palette in his up-raised right hand while engaged in painting Matthew’s portrait. which he may be unable to complete. He is working in the.Baroque style of the period laying out fairly complete preliminary compositions, executed in burnt siena or a similar red earth pigments. He would have completed the work of art using a full gamut of colours similar to those visible in the palette Rembrandt is.holding aloft. The ground layer beneath the underdrawings appears to show that he is working on paper with white margins rather than a timber panel with gesso priming.

Works of art, in this unfinished state of completion are still extant. Similar artist’s panel supports originate in the workshops of Rembrandt, van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens and, particularly, Peter-Paul Rubens. A classic example of the latter is a large 103×71 cms oak-panel oil sketch, Triumphant Chariot in Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts. In this latter case the ground would have a rough textured chalk gesso priming.

Rembrandt’s may be unable to complete Matthew’s portrait. Baroque painters of this period laid out fairly complete preliminary compositions, executed in burnt Siena or similar red earth pigments which would be completed with a full gamut of pigments (visible in Rembrandts palette). Works in this stage of completion are still extand, Rembrandt, van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens and, particularly, Peter-Paul Rubens. A classical example is the latters large 1o3 x 71 cms oak-panel oil sketch, Triumpant Chariot in Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts. The ground layer beneath the underdrawing appears to show that he is working on paper rather than a gesso priming. In this latter case the ground would be of a rough texture. A close examination of a similar an off-white ground layer panel, by an unknown Dutch painter, the author uncovered in the cave of the National Gallery of Ireland in the late 1960s would appear to confirm that Rembrandt is working on paper with the margins rather than a timber panel

HowTiitus and Hendrickje protected Rembrandt from his creditors.

Hendrickje Stoffels is Rembrandt van Rijhn’s longtime companion. In the top left part of the Adventure. She is drawing his attention to the invaders emerging from the shadows. Leading the way are three stalking hounds, camp-followers of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. They slide through the entrance, importing a misfortunes to Rembrandt’s atelier Their objective is his fragile and ailing son, Tiitus whose head is being gently supported by his stepmother.

The Star-crossed van Gogh, is adopting a protective attitude towards Hendrickje and Rembrandt’s son. His trade-mark straw hat emerges from beneath a palm tree in the top left of the watercolour. The artist executed it in a calligraphic style that mirrors the image of the bat emerging from the edges of the archway entrance to the studio. Popular legends attributed the diffusion, in southwestern China’s Yunnan province bat caves, that were identified there as a source for the diffusion of coronaviruses.

In May 1663, a disastrous bubonic plague epidemic rampaged through the Amsterdam exchange centre and 10% of the cities inhabitants perished. Amongst its victims was Hendrickje followed by his son’s in 1668. In the top right of the artwork four hostile horsemen of the apocallypse erupt through the gate that defends Rembrandt’s studio, bringing with them disasters, starvation and a deadly the plague, a general Armageddon..

Rembrandt’s may be unable to complete Matthew’s portrait. Baroque painters of this period laid out fairly complete preliminary compositions, executed in burnt Siena or similar red earth pigments which would be completed with a full gamut of pigments (visible in Rembrandts palette). Works in this stage of completion are still extand, Rembrandt, van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens and, particularly, Peter-Paul Rubens. A classical example is the latters large 1o3 x 71 cms oak-panel oil sketch, Triumpant Chariot in Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts. The ground layer beneath the underdrawing appears to show that he is working on paper rather than a gesso priming. In this latter case the ground would be of a rough texture. A close examination of a similar an off-white ground layer panel, by an unknown Dutch painter, uncovered by the author, in the cave of the National Gallery of Ireland in the late 1960s would appear to confirm that Rembrandt is working on paper with the margins rather than a timber panel

The final years of Islam in Portugal left some cultural Islamic art presence visible in romanesque sculpture where statues of Christian female saints often have veil covering part of the face. In the lower left section of the watercolour Moss introduced a similar Sleeping Danaë,using the rare and costly Lapis Lazuli; Its characteristic deep blue  gives importance to the masked figure. Her face likewise covered. But, in this case, the mask is probably a necessary protection against the devastating Corona virus. The Sleeping Danaë has her left foot is linked to the right foot of the central figure, Rembrandt. In other figures present in the painting, the artist adopted cobalt blue to render figures and their garments.

The Story surrounding ‘Rembrandt in a Time of Pandemic’

The Amsterdam painters’ guild, in 1660, permitted Tiitus and Hendrickje to administer the sale of Rembrandt’s paintings, etchings and other valuable assets following his 1656 bankruptcy thereupon enabling them to blocade the actions of his many creditors. By May 1663, a disasterious epidemic was raging and 10% of the cities inhabitants perished. Amongst its victims was Hendrickje followed by his son’s in 1668. In the top right of the artwork four hostile horsemen of the apocallypse erupt through the gate that defends Rembrandt’s studio, bringing with them disasters, starvation and a deadly the plague.

The fashion of adopting one or more dogs was created by the increasing spread of Corona virus. During the lockdown many people were obliged to work from home in isolation. The necessary daily walk for the hounds was an excuse to get some exercise and fresh air . Here, facing the threatening invaders they are on the alert to protect their master and the studio’s occupants. Their collars are decorated with 23 carat gold shell. It is one of the few occasions where, in Matthew’s the Adventures of Rembrandt, series he makes use of pure gold watercolours. The previous occasion was, Rembrandt Nature Lover, https://en.rembrandt.ie/easycoder/300/33-RembtandtNatureLover.jpg.

MATTHEW MOSS, Rembrandt, in a time of pandemic. 80 x 60 cms. Watercolour, pastel and graphite pencil on 300 gms Fabriano off-white mould-made watercolour paper. The flowers partly concealing the lRembrandt, in ower section of Rembrandt’s portrait of Matthew that he is creating are ‘Garofanini’ of the botanic genre Dianthus,”flowers of Zeus. 

 

Six studies for, Rembrandt in a Time of Pandemic

EN VERSION REMBRANDT, IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC, in its final phase, before framing. The artist has adopted Fine Chinese weasel calligraphic brushes and, to a lesser extent handmade round Squirrel’s mop headed Hair manufactured, mostly in France, Italy and China. They are bunched in larger masses and tied to the handle with wire ties via duck or goose quil ferrules. They make use of small timber or bamboo handles, whereas long handless are preferred by artists working in Italy.

Squirrel’s mops allow the artist to absorb a large quantity of colour, useful when it has to be distributed over a large area of paper as in the centre space of Rembrandt, in a Time of Pandemic. The artist also used pens he cut from reeds in the rivers of Costrainera and the nearby, San Lorenzo al Mare. Their effect and the style they create is more visible in the black and white The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse above, where the effect created by a steel pen resembles the works of Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze, aka, Wols. The artist died 1951 as the result of ill health induced by his internment as a German subject, in a concentration camp near Aix-en-Provence He was active mostly in France, his ‘Tachisme’ style influencing American Abreact Expressionists such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. He had an important influence on Moss’s paintings during the late 1950s-1960s, while the latter was working in his Via del Babuino studio in Rome. The Four Horsemen  figures have been transcribed to the top, right-hand quarter of the final oeuvre. They are entering Rembrandt’s studio through an arch, while displaying a hostile attitude towards the occupants. The sepia drawing has been modified to render the style more calligraphic and figurative.

Rembrandts sketch of Raphael’s Baldassare Castiglione painting was auctioned in the Van Uffelen sale, in 9 April 1639 for the equivalent of € 750 and It is uncertain if Rembrandt was not the actual buyer. As frequently occurs during preliminary watercolour, details of the painting, the sketches are works frequently achieved using the back of an envelope or a paper napkin. Although done on good quality paper Rembrandt’s pen and ink sketch is a good example of the artist’s modus operandi; he referred to the drawing’s composition in successive self-portraits.

In the details of the preliminary pencil layout, individual sections are relatively sharp and precise gradually, as the oeuvre is converted in to a more complex sepia water colour painting, it becomes more diffused. The important modification that occurs between these drawings is not the obivious one of the introduction of a full gamut of fine watercolours. It is the manner in which the style of the different format Matthew embraced in using Fabriano 300 gram paper to create the final version of Rembrandt in a Time of Pandemic.

 

Matthew roughly sketched the two figures on French-made Ingres paper he bought from a large art supply store in Chinatown, New York, decades ago. The color is provided by Caran d’Ache Swiss pastel pencils, marketed in France at the end of the 1990s. They allow artists to create a watercolor effect while having the advantage of being heavily pigmented. Working on color-based !!! artists’ drawing paper, the artist obtains pastel-like effects. , with the addition of water, they are modified to achieve a fine watercolor result on a dark raw umber paper background .

The artist obtains a similar dramatic effect by painting the final work on Fabriano 300 gram cream drawing paper, replacing pastel with pure lapis lazuli watercolor pigments and adopting a fine Chinese pen and brush. Using a different technique in the final painting allows for a more detailed rendering of the Mother and Child.In the final arttwork we see the shocked Rembrandt, his desolate studio, and its unfortunate occupants about to be overwhelmed by the impending disaster.

Rembrandt two dogs demonstrate an even greater contrast that is perceptible between the two that are created using broad touches of pastel in the final work of art. We clearly distinguish one from the other in the modified technique. The final painting, created more carefully in watercolour, and rendered using fine Chinese calligraphic-type brushes. Back in the day, of my father, also a painter, the terms “pencil” or “flat” were semantically related to the name “brush”, allowing artists to define the tool more precisely.In Matthew’s latest painting, the green foliage and flowers hide the dogs, restless and prepared to do batttle with the invaders. They both wear pure gold watercolor necklaces. This unusual pure gold pigment discreetly draws the viewer’s eye to the movement that is taking place at the gates of Rembrandt’s workplace.

 

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