Monday, July 17, 2006
I JUST COULDN'T HELP IT
I usually try to limit myself to updating this blog once a week. However, I could not let the 400th birthday of Rembrandt-- one of my favorite illustrators of all time-- go by without a gesture of respect.
Rembrandt illustrated stories from the Bible, Faust and other sources. Just like today's illustrators, he designed pictures for reproduction and popular consumption (using etchings, the most advanced technology of the day). Like today's illustrators, he was often frustrated by his tasteless and unreasonable clients. (At the height of the "tulip craze" in Amsterdam, a single tulip bulb sold for three times as much as Rembrandt's masterpiece, The Nightwatch.) And just like today's illustrators, he died broke.
But 400 years later, all the money squabbles and heartbreak and exasperation have faded into background noise, along with the names of all the investment bankers and merchants who were once such big shots in Amsterdam. All that's left is the sublime poetry of Rembrandt's pictures.