Monthly Archives: December 2014

Rembrandt makes you feel holy

Standing Ovation, Seated

Christmas in art is usually represented via the Adoration of the Magi. There are dozens of paintings with three wise men of the East kneeling in front of the cradle, with the Virgin presenting her Son, and Joseph standing back, respectfully. Artists played with light coming from the star right onto Christ, with angels cheering up or even dancing (Botticelli), with various saints and benefactors attending the scene, but few dared to capture the Christmas spirit beyond a trite illustration of the Bible. Most artists didn’t have the creative liberty to experiment. Clients wanted the Magi, and a client’s wish was just as sacrosanct as the story itself, if not more so.

My favourite representation of Christmas is the Holy Family with Angels by Rembrandt (St.Petersburg, the Hermitage), painted three years after Rembrandt’s wife died leaving him a widowed father.


Rembrandt makes the observer actively present, and not a passive voyeur, by using…

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Corporate Utopia

So, you think Rembrandt has nothing to do with your life? Read this!

Standing Ovation, Seated

Rembrandt is more often compared to writers than painters. He has been likened to Shakespeare in England and Dostoyevsky in Russia for his explores of human character under extreme strain and stress, be it a brush with death or burial under cornucopia’s gifts. That might be true, but for me he is more of a philosopher with prophetic insights into the social order that would flourish many centuries later.

He craved for recognition when he was young, and for money, when he got recognised and bankrupt. At the time, group portraits were as good a commission in the protestant Amsterdam as an altarpiece in Rome, so the order from the Textile Guild was a godsend.


This is a group portrait of the so-called syndics of the cloth merchants’ guild, or people who ruled the textile trade in the Netherlands, using the subtle tools of quality control. They were a powerful group intricately linked…

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