Page 3, 7th March 1958

7th March 1958
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Page 3, 7th March 1958 — -.:
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.1 Te i i 1 rctures n Church: No 388 ; REMBRANDT is not an easy artist to understand. Superficially many of his qualities are discouraging. His form and sense of design, the two things that modern critics look for beyond all else, seem submerged in much of the work under a sbushel of rhetoric and obscurity It is all very well for a nineteenth century critic like Fromentin to say of Rembrandt that "he accosts with his dark lantern the world of the marvellous, of conscience and of the ideal. He has no equal in the power of showing the invisible." If we can't make the detail out then it shows us nothing-not even the invisible. Here it is important to remember, the definition of objects meant very little to Rembrandt. The universe was without lintit and without definition, therefore his fragments of universal truth were seen by him to inhabit a world where light and darkness were undefined, time was not circumscribed, shape and form were fluid. He did not believe in a material kind of pictorial architecture. His form was dictated to him by the idea. His interpretations were seldom of material things but nearly always of man's spirit, and he was very far from being either a naturalist or a realist; when he used realism it was to transform its illusion into symbolism. As he grew older and his hand and eye failed him, Rembrandt's religious paintings took on a deeper and more personal mysticism. There is a special quality, for instance, in the tenderness of the solemn embrace between the father and the son in that late work " The Welcome of the Prodigal Son ". We can find there all the deepest expression of that great man flowing through those heavy, weary hands laid so strongly on the young shoulders, and in the gigantic upright forms that stand behind the father there is something strangely haunting and reminiscent of the vision of the old Michelangelo.

IRIS CONLAY




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