REMBRANDT VAN RIJN,Vintage Art Masterpieces,Vintage Prints for Sale The Syndics of the Drapers Guild – REMBRANDT YAN RUN {Dutch School}

The Syndics of the Drapers Guild – REMBRANDT YAN RUN {Dutch School}




AT THE age of twenty-six, Rembrandt seemed to possess all the qualities
requisite to popular success. He competed with the tribe of portrait servants
of Amsterdam and swept them from the field; at a time when canvases went
for next to nothing, he commanded high prices for his work, receiving com­
missions from shooting fraternities, syndics, or officers of_ the guilds, and
private traders of means.



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Three times in his life he painted group portraits of
men; first, in The Anatomy Lesson, a memorial for the surgeons’ guild and an
error of genius-superlative in its craftsmanship, but conforming, in its glassy
tightness, to the pleasure of his clients. After The Anatomy Lesson, he enjoyed
a decade of prosperity, turning out popular pictures to indulge his wife’s love
of finery and his own paSSIOn for collecting, and reserving his best energies
for religious pieces.


In 1642, he painted his second portrait group, The Nigh: Watch, an experi­
ment that pleased nobody, least of all the civic guards who ordered and re­
jected it on the ground that it did not do justice to their military visages. It is
not his mightiest work, but it is fabulously dramatic in its organized confusion
and its red and gold forms blazing out of a subterranean murk. After The Night
Watch, the tide of popular favor turned against him, but he pondered his vicis­
situdes with curious equanimity. His wife died; his housekeeper was publicly
reprimanded for “living in concubinage with Rembrandt, the painter”; he was
sold out, and became wholly dependent on his son in the most disreputable
quarter of Amsterdam.

While involved in these calamities, Rembrandt was pouring the light of his
genius into the cavernous spaces of the soul; and through the influence of a
wealthy dyer, an old pupil, he was commissioned to paint the group portrait
of The Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild, his last work of this kind, and the great­
est work of the kind in existence. It netted him nothing-the money was seized
by creditors in satisfaction of old claims. He painted the Syndics with the same
soul-examining fervor and psychological insight that went into his conception
of Christ. The men are portraits, solid bourgeois governors in big hats-the
most massive heads ever painted-no misshapen jaws, no loosely hinged
parts, no weaknesses anywhere. But he painted into them the full force of his
humanity; and the depth and strength and wonder of the group come from
the new and personal valuations he put on the old human stuff.

From the RIJks Museum, Amsterdam

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