Up close to Rembrandt

(Quite a long post)

2019 marked the 350th anniversary of the death of Rembrandt. Both the Rijksmuseum and at the Mauritshuis (Den Haag) were showing all their Rembrandt’s in special exhibitions. So we couldn’t miss this opportunity.

The one painting that I couldn’t get up close and personal with at the Rijksmuseum was The Night Watch, which was being digitally scanned when we were there. By complete coincidence the Rijksmuseum has just released that very digitised image this week. You can super zoom in on the image and watch as it gets more and more detailed as you look.

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The Night Watch (more correctly,  if long-windedly, called Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642

Most of these photos are from the Rijksmuseum and you will have to bear with the fact that some of them were taken from rakish angles as I attempted to get shots without the milling museum hordes.

Here we go! Rembrandt’s only full length portraits of a couple, Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, were painted in 1634. The subject of the portraits is as much about the wealth of the couple, as it is the sitters. The refined painted surface shows all the details of the elaborate lace, silver filigree and silk that the couple are wearing. Marten was an up-and-comer, whose father had moved to Amsterdam from Antwerp and made his fortune running a sugar refinery, and Oopjen was the daughter of an established Amsterdam family, 

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Portrait of Marten Soolmans, 1634

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Detail from the Portrait of Marten Soolmans, 1634. Just look at the detail in the wrinkle of the silk stocking, not to mention the woven pattern visible in the stocking of Marten’s left calf. The filigree work and punched holes in the shoes are astounding.

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Portrait of Oopjen Coppit, 1664, who married Marten Soolmans in 1633. She was pregnant with her first child when the painting was carried out.

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Detail of the portrait of Oopjen Coppit, showing not only her pearls, but also the exquisite lace of her cuff and the fine silk of her dress.

Far and away my favourite ‘couple’ portrait by Rembrandt is this un-named man and woman, who chose to have themselves painted as the Biblical couple Isaac and Rebecca. This painting is often referred to as ‘The Jewish Bride’. The tenderness and warmth of their relationship is on show for all to see.

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Issac and Rebecca or The Jewish Bride, 1665-69

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Detail from Isaac and Rebecca or The Jewish Bride, 1665-69

In comparison to the previous two portraits Rembrandt used thick impasto paint and a palette knife on this work to give a more textured feel to the finished painting, though the details of the dress are in reality no less sumptuous than those of the previous works.

The Mauritshuis, situated in the Hague (Den Haag), was relatively quiet compared to the Rijksmuseum and it was definitely worth visiting. When I checked I realised that I took very few photos in the gallery.  I think that was because I was looking and sketching the Rembrandt portraits instead.

I am so pleased that I did take a photo of this poignant painting of King Saul, listening to the young David playing his harp.

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King Saul , a detail from Saul and David, 1651-54 and 1655-58

You can see my sketch of this on the lower right corner of the page below, along with the other self-portraits of Rembrandt, both as a young man and an old one.Rempage

Even now I get a thrill just remembering the chance we had to see all these amazing works.

And just because we are there already I will share with you a bonus shot of that other famous inhabitant of the Mauritshuis, Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring.

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The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Jan Vermeer, 1665, and a few admirers.

Van Gogh’s box of wool

A red painted box with balls of wool inside. I wondered what the box was used for. Vincent Van Gogh used the balls of wool to consider possible colour combinations.

Van Gogh’s box of wool, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Synthetic dyes were discovered in the 1860’s, influencing both fashion and the colours on the palettes of artists.

Up close to Van Gogh

While in the Netherlands in 2018 we had the opportunity to binge, in person, on the works of Vincent Van Gogh at both the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo.  The latter is the largest private collection of Van Gogh’s work in the world and the second largest collection after the Van Gogh Museum. Unlike the Van Gogh Museum, the Kröller-Müller does allow photography so I was able to take photos and details of some of the works I saw during my visit.

The reason I am posting these photos now is that a fellow blogger, Rose Davies, has been spending some of her recent time attempting to copy Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. As she commented in her recent post, “it’s so interesting to analyse a famous artwork and see what has gone into it”. So I thought I’d share a few of my detail shots and two drawings I made in the Kröller-Müller Museum.

Please note that these photos were taken standing back and using a close up lens, rather than with my face on the painting. Although I did see a man literally lean over a barricade, place his hand on the wall next to a Van Gogh self portrait in the Rijks Museum and literally stick his face only a few centimetres off the glass!

Enclosed Wheat Field with Rising Sun, late May 1889,

Detail from the left side of the painting (as we are looking at it).

My notes on the painting, Enclosed Wheatfield with Rising Sun.

Wheatfields in a Mountain Landscape, early December, 1889,

Details of the tree from the left side of the painting (as we are looking at it).

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Detail of the tree in the centre right of the painting, (as we are looking at it).

My notes on the colours of the tree on the centre right of the painting

Terrace of a Café at Night (Place Du Forum), circa September 1888

Detail of the street and figures to the far right of the painting, (as we are looking at it).

You can see those black arcs of ‘dry brush’ skipping over the other layers of paint.

Portrait of a Young Woman, late June-early July 1890

Detail of the left shoulder, (as we are seeing the painting).

I love how we are so simply led over the contour of her torso by those blue brush strokes, something that I noticed Van Gogh often does in his self-portraits as well.

Let’s hope that in the near future we will be able to see such art in person again.

 

 

Angel of the North [Tuggeranong]

Our omaaarrrgggge (homage) to the Angel of the North by Sir Anthony Gormley

Well what can I say, I love the idea of the art challenge sweeping the world’s museums and galleries where people try and recreate famous artworks at home. #museumfromhome, #betweenartandquarantine.

This is our contribution, as we have a maquette of the Angel of the North, in the National Gallery of Australia collection. 

Photographer Stephen Lee

Materials provided by Book Depository and Wine Selectors. Tape by Flying Tiger.

The artist wore her own clothes (allbeit in unusual ways, she does know how to wear them normally).

Make it pink

Oh the joy of wandering around a good art gallery, in this case the Art Gallery of South Australia during my Christmas holidays. I seemed to be focusing on the pink things this time.

Baratjala, 2019, Nongirrna Marawili, earth pigments, recycled toner pigment on stringybark.

Drover, 2015, Nyaparu (William) Gardner, pencil, synthetic polymer paint on paper.

Tony Tuckson, White lines (horizontal) on black and pink, 1973

Fragment, c.1971, Ian Fairweather, oil on pulp board.

Pied Beauty, 1989, John Olsen, oil on composition board

High Country, 1999, Rosalie Gascoigne, painted corrugated iron on wood.

Margaret Dodd, Holden with haircurlers, c. 1977

Look Rich, 1975, Ann Newmarch, colour screen print on paper.

Matisse-Picasso mini zine

(Warning, long post with lots of photos)

In the ‘excitement’ of the terrible hail storm yesterday while we were at the National Gallery of Australia I forgot completely about my mini Matisse-Picasso zine.

For non-locals, our weeks of smoke filled skies were cleared by a tremendously damaging hail storm yesterday. Here is a video of what the rain sounded like as we walked around inside the National Gallery of Australia. I was too stunned to get my video happening to record the sound of the hail striking the roof, suffice to say it sounded like the sky was throwing boulders.

The paintings are by Hugh Ramsay an extremely talented, Scottish born Australian artist who died in 1906 from tuberculosis at age 28.

The road and forecourt of the National Gallery of Australia covered in hail the size of golf balls.

Anyway, we originally went to the gallery to make our second visit to the Matisse-Picasso exhibition. While waiting to go in I sat down at the art workshop space just outside the entrance to the exhibition and started making a little collage with the idea of using it to draw on. It then occurred to me that I could make a book out of it. I did this with the help of a short video on how to fold a piece of paper into a book (ah the benefits of the gallery free wi-fi).

This is the closest photo I have of the way the paper looked before turning it into the mini book. This is the reverse side where the painting names and dates are listed.

One of the advantages of making such a small book (5 cm x 7.5 cm or 2 x 3inches), is that all the sketches had to be small and fairly simple. This is the little book as it was at the gallery, (we are pencil only in the gallery).

Picasso, Head of a Boy, 1906: Matisse, Meditation (Portrait of Laurette), c.1916

Picasso, Woman with Tambourine, 1936.

Picasso, Still Life with Pitcher and Apples, 1919: Matisse, The Plaster Torso, 1919.

The front and back of my little zine. Matisse, The Abduction of Europa, 1929: Matisse, Nono Lebasque, 1909.

For better or worse I added colour to the zine when I got home.

I had a great time making this little zine, indeed it’s small size encouraged me to just have fun with the process. I did do some slightly larger sketches in another book, but I think this might become quite addictive.

PS the video that I used to make the book can be found here.

One more parting photo. This is the road outside the gallery strewn with shredded foliage. It looks sort of sylvan, but for knowing how damaged the trees were.

Blown away

It was very sneaky of the organisers of the Dobell drawing prize to tell me that I got a mention in this review, but not let on what that mention was.

All good!

The full review of the show by Tracy Clement can be read in the May/June print edition of Art Guide Australia or it can be read online here. The installation photo was taken by Peter Morgan, the in-house photographer at the National Art School in Sydney.