'The year of Rembrandt'

February 5 2019

Image of 'The year of Rembrandt'

Picture: holland.com

It's the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt's death. As a year of shows and events begins in Holland, Simon Schama writes about the artist's impact on him;

Yet another commemoration and yet another mega-show at the Rijksmuseum. Is it possible to have too much Rembrandt? Can you have too much love, wisdom, fine weather? No, you can’t.

His was the first art that properly caught my eye; or rather his eyes caught mine and wouldn’t let go. Those eyes, one lit, the other in shadow, belonged to the late self-portrait at Kenwood House. I was, I think, just nine years old, but even then I registered the transfer of the artist’s intense observation of himself as somehow a scrutiny of my own attentiveness. It was a gaze a small boy dared not break.

For more on the year's Rembrandt-ian events in Holland, see here. I love the way the Dutch make art central stage in their national narrative. In Britain we're too afraid of 'art' to do such a thing. Although in this year of Brexit, perhaps we should adopt that old curmudgeon Hogarth as our national figure.

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