Hello Friends and Family,

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Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art

This week I visited the Phoenix Art Museum for the special exhibit, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art. This exhibit was a real coup for Phoenix — the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam was scheduled to close for several years for renovations. The Phoenix Art Museum was able to coax the Rijksmuseum to loan some of their collection during this down time.

From the Phoenix Art Museum website — “Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art marks the first time an exhibition of this size from its collection will be presented in the United States, with 90 stellar examples of Dutch 17th century paintings, prints and sculptures, and a fine selection of ceramic, glass, and silver showpieces reflective of those shown in the paintings.”

The exhibit provides each visitor an audioguide which describes many of the pieces of artwork and the story behind the story. Many of you may have seen this self-portrait by Rembrandt but the full title is Self-portrait as the Apostle Paul. I found it interesting that the Rembrandt did not just do a simple self-portrait but staged it in a religious setting. Whatever sells.

As a photographer, what intrigued me was the use of light in all of these painting. The artists had trained their eyes to see the subtleties of, for example, a single shaft of light falling on one part of the subject. A camera in the hands of a good photographer can capture such subtleties — but it boggles the mind that these artists were able to capture them in their minds then transcribe them to canvas. This example is by Gerand Dou — Man Smoking a Pipe. Amazing!

The other surprise was the result of being so close to the paintings. Not only could you see the brush strokes (expected) but you could see exquisite detail in the subjects — the dainty lace, the foliage, the lines in a face. Again, these are easily in the realm of photography — but quite impressive in paintings. This example is from Hendrick Martensz Sorgh — The Vegetable Market.

If you live in Phoenix or have an occasion to come here during the exhibition (you have plenty of time, the last day is May 6), please treat yourself to this experience. I highly recommend it.


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com