Page 8, 29th May 1992

29th May 1992
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Page 8, 29th May 1992 — The great Master with a biblical obsession
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Locations: Amsterdam, Wellington, London

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The great Master with a biblical obsession

GALLERIES by Leigh Hatts A LTHOUGH the National Gallery's great Rembrandt Paintings exhibition closed Iasi weekend, many Rembrandt works are not only remaining in London but can be viewed free of charge.

Rembrandt's self-portrait, loaned to the travelling Rembrandt show when it paused in Amsterdam last year, did not travel on to our National Gallery. Instead it went straight back home to Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath where the painting can be seen in the dining room (daily; free).

The other half of the Rembrandt show was Drawings by Rembrandt and His Circle which is continuing at the British Museum (daily until August 4; free). The BM, with more than 60 drawings of its own, has the most representative single collection.

Also displayed are drawings by Rembrandt's pupils and followers whose close imitation of the master's work resulted in them being accepted as authentic Rembrandt sketches.

In 1935 there were said to be 630 real Rembrandt works of art in existence but by 1968 the number had tumbled to 420. The recognised tally of Rembrandt drawings has also fallen as a result of this c x1nhition although some scholars (including former

BM curators) believe that the number could rise again in the next century.

Rembrandt had an obsession for biblical subjects and a rare preparatory drawing (for the painting The angel preventing Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac at the National Gallery) is included here showing how he found the exact position for the falling knife.

But often Rembrandt did not bother with preparatory sketches and therefore most of the drawings show the artist at his most spontaneous. The numerous figure sketches include a woman teaching her child to walk and a playful baby proving a handful for the minder.

Back at the National Gallery there is still much to see whilst the Rembrandt paintings show is being dismantled. It is not just the upstairs Sainsbury Wing which offers so many new delights.

The early 19th-century pictures have been returned to the main floor of the old building to complete the scheme to have the 19th and 20th-century paintings in an uninterrupted sequence along the east wing.

A I960s false ceiling has been removed and carpets lifted to allow the now restored oak floor to be seen. A red wall fabric in two rooms is part of an attempt to provide a salon in which Delaroche's huge Execution of Lady Jane Grey and Goya's Duke of Wellington would have been first shown.




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