'Late Rembrandt' - the reviews

October 15 2014

Image of 'Late Rembrandt' - the reviews

Picture: National Gallery

The National Gallery's new show gets five starts from everyone so far, as well as dollops of over-exuberance. Jonathan Jones in The Guardian, here, says:

Rembrandt is so high in the ranking of great artists that our amassed reverence has sunk like syrup into the brown and gold surfaces of his paintings.

There he is in the first room of this startling exhibition, gazing back from his self-portraits, a sage and infinitely gentle soul: Rembrandt the master. Then the curators pull a hidden lever and the floor disappears.

This brilliant, brave blockbuster reveals the true Rembrandt – a man at the end of his tether. It is a shocking and cathartic journey through the tragedy of his fall. By exposing that, it reveals his ultimate triumph. It is like seeing a great actor play King Lear and Prospero as a double bill.

Ben Luke in The Evening Standard (does this mean no Brian Sewell? We hope not) says:

It opens with the artistic equivalent of a punch to the solar plexus. Spotlit in the gloom are a cluster of Rembrandt's self portraits, among the greatest portraits ever made — there's no pussyfooting around with context, just a room of Rembrandt's eyes meeting yours, in masterpieces of such moving humanity that it's enough to make you sink to your knees.

Mark Hudson in The Telegraph says:

This is an exhibition that makes you realise there is still validity in the old idea of the universal masterpiece. I counted 10, maybe 11, along with perhaps 20 paintings that are merely superb and a few more that look like generic Rembrandt. As to which paintings fall into which category, you can make your own mind up, because if you have any feeling for Rembrandt, for painting or for art of any sort, you must see this show. When it comes to the great themes of human existence, there is still no one above Rembrandt. 

Karen Wright in The Independent gives it also gives the show 5 stars, though it's not clear if she's actually seen it. 

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