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Q: Dutch art History Commentary (sec 2) ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Dutch art History Commentary (sec 2)
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Visual Arts
Asked by: starmorwen-ga
List Price: $120.00
Posted: 09 Jan 2003 19:00 PST
Expires: 08 Feb 2003 19:00 PST
Question ID: 141016
I need to know the important facts about the following Art works for a
final exam, i was ill most of the semester so i do not have the class
notes. I already have the images for each but I need commentary on
each artwork's significance in the history of Dutch Painting..if
needed I will post an example of a sample commentary

Rembrandt-"Descent from the Cross" 1634 
Rembrandt-"Self Portrait w/ Saskia" 1634 
Rembrandt-"The Mill (cleaned)"1650 
Rembrandt-"Last Self portrait"1669 
Rembrandt-"Aristotle contemplating the Bust of Homer" 1653 
Esaias van de Velde-"Cattle Ferry" 1662 
Rembrandt-"lady +Gentlemen in Black" 1633 
Rembrandt-"Judas Returning the 30 pieces of Silver" 1629 
Hendrick Avercamp-"Winter scene on a Frozen Canal" 
Aert van der neer-"Moonlit landscape with Bridge" 1648-1650 
Saloman van Ruysdael-"River Landscape with a Ferry" 1650

Request for Question Clarification by easterangel-ga on 09 Jan 2003 20:03 PST
Hi! I think I might be able to find something but I really would need
an example of the info you require. Just let me know. :)
Subject: Re: Dutch art History Commentary (sec 2)
Answered By: ragingacademic-ga on 10 Jan 2003 04:30 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear starmorwen,

Thanks for your question.  First, let me request that if any of the
following is unclear or if you require any further research – please
don’t hesitate to ask me for a clarification.

I will address your request painting by painting –

Rembrandt-"Descent from the Cross" 1634

Digital image of the painting –


Descent from the Cross
Oil on canvas
62 x 46 in. (158 x 117 cm)
Hermitage, St. Petersburg

“This enlarged and enhanced version of the Descent seems to have
remained in Rembrandt’s possession until the sale of his good in 1656.
 It served as a model for copies in the intervening years and also no
doubt as an advertisement, like the etching of the same subject.”

“The pose of the virgin, fainting on her feet, is midway between the
dignified sorrow of Rubens’s Madonna and the prostration of
Rembrandt’s in his Descent for the stadholder.”

Excerpted from “Rembrandt – his life, his paintings,” by Gary Schwartz
(Viking, 1985).

“In the painting, Descent from the Cross (Deposition), in which Christ
is taken down from the Cross, for burial. It is a general scene of
mourning. Traditionally present are Joseph of Arimathea, the rich
Sanhedrin member who gave up his tomb for Christ, Nicodemus (with
myrrh and pincers to pull out the nails), the Virgin, usually overcome
with emotion, Mary Magdalene (recognizable with her long hair,
sometimes kissing Christ's feet) and St John. The scene has been
gradually extended by artists, but it is always recognizable.”

Rembrandt-"Self Portrait w/ Saskia" 1634  

I found a reference to this painting with a date of 1634 – but no
image.  On the other hand, I have found a significant deal of
information about this painting, but with alternate sources quoting it
as being from 1635 and/or 1636.

“The Self-Portrait with Saskia (his wife, Saskia van Uylenburgh) (c.
1634 Gemldegalerie, Dresden) displays prosperity in warm tones and
rich, glittering textiles.”

“In his famous ‘Self Portrait with Saskia on his lap’ painted a year
or two later (…than 1634), husband and wife are turned towards the
spectator with an animated expression of gaiety, and the pattern made
by the couple has the freshness and irregular lines of a wild flower. 
The over rich attire of the figures speaks of an extravagance of taste
and a parvenu reveling in luxuriant dress.  The colors, however, are
delicate and restrained.  The red, which is a kind of copper color, is
still somewhat pale; a refined blue and yellow occurs too.”

“In Rembrandt’s painting there is no question that the scene takes
place in a tavern, not in a home.  Proof is offered by the conspicuous
tally board hanging in the left corner…  The tally board can be read
as an allusion to the Prodigal’s wasted patrimony.”

“The peacock pie in the print can also be seen in the double portrait;
since peacocks are traditional symbols of superbia, the peacock pies
in these works probably allude to pride, one of the seven deadly

“…one still wonders why Rembrandt chose to depict himself as the
prodigal and Saskia as a courtesan in his lap.  Was it confession that
he and Saskia are prodigals…was he implying that we, too, are
prodigals in need of grace and forgiveness?”

Excerpted from –

“Dutch Painting 1600-1800” by Seymour Slive (Yale University Press,

There is also an etching from 1636, but this is less likely to be the
work you are required to become familiar with –

Rembrandt-"The Mill (cleaned)"1650  

Digital image (click to enlarge):


The Mill
c. 1650
Oil on canvas
34 1/2 x 41 1/2 in. (87.5 x 105.5 cm)
National Gallery of Art, Washington

“Essentially a romantic rather than a realistic interpretation of
nature, the principal subject of the picture is the spirit of peace
and calm that envelops the earth at dusk. The subordination of details
in large masses of shadow heightens this mood. The Mill which for more
than a century was in an English private collection, had considerable
influence on English landscape painters. John Constable described it
as one of the four memorable paintings in the history of landscape and
in itself sufficient to form an epoch of landscape painting. “

Here’s one strange commentary –

“This by far is probably the most twisted and sick drawing I've seen
in my entire life. See, the thing about evil and darkness, is when
it's implied it's not as bad. Like, you draw something about death, oh
wow, that's a scary pic; But that's all you think of it as. Just
another dark drawing. The thing with this drawing, and why I like it,
is because it portrays happiness and new beginnings. At first glance,
all you see is a family and there going on a boat ride. Run of the
Mill kinda of stuff. But then you look up and you look at this hideous
storm is making it's way to there city. And you can tell the people
are in a rush cause there not taking much luggage. So this poor
family, with CHILDREN and elderly are going to try to outrun this
horrible storm.
Again, very very horrid. And there's little children, and they are all
surely marching into there death!”

But maybe there’s something to learn from that…

And a very interesting correlation to anime –

“Manga and anime usually decide on a very bright light, and that
accentuates dramatics through strong contrasts of light and shadow.
This is also the main characteristic of Western painting in the
Baroque period (about 17th Century): it also strives for dramatics and
involvement of the spectator in order to make him "participate" in the
portrayed scene, as in this picture by Rembrandt, The mill (c.1650). “

Rembrandt-"Last Self portrait"1669  

Digital image (click to enlarge) –


Self Portrait
oil on canvas, 63.5x57.8cm
The Hague

“The details in this painting suggest that this is Rembrandt's last
self portrait. The painter looks somewhat older, his double chin has
sagged even more, the cheeks are more sunken, and the gray hair
longer. The face is older but it does not show signs of mental decline
as some earlier authors have suggested. Although parts of this
painting have been left at an early stage of completion, the painting
as a whole is very impressive. The hat is more like a lopsided turban
than anything else. X-radiographs shows he initially planned to give
himself a white cap. In several other self portraits, he also painted
over this white cap. One gets the impression that Rembrandt painted
what he saw in the mirror and then after he decided how to portray
himself the cap would be replaced.”

”It is difficult to say why we are so deeply moved by Rembrandt’s last
self-portrait, painted at a time when all those he loved were gone.”

“It is a portrait of a lonely man who examines himself, his inner
life, so to speak, and the marks which suffering have inflicted upon
his features.  And yet, although the colors are subdued…it is a
painting that hauntingly expresses genuine humanity.”

“This aged man with white hair does not give up the struggle.  The
splendor of life on this earth is still amazingly felt in these
features.  The background is painted in subdued colors reminiscent of
those in Rembrandt’s youthful works.  The figure is nevertheless
clearly set off against it.  But while in the early works life is
rendered by the brightness of the colors, and while the works dating
from the early sixties are distinguished by their full, sumptuous
tones, here the subdued tonality of the whole expresses fulfillment
and serenity.  This is an autumnal mood – the end of the road: the
colors sparkle and glimmer in the cap, as a counterpoint to the white
locks and the dark eyes.”

Excerpted from –

“Rembrandt” by Ludwig Munz (Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 1954)

Rembrandt-"Aristotle contemplating the Bust of Homer" 1653  

Digital image is at –

“Rembrandt's late paintings, such as Aristotle Contemplating the Bust
of Homer (1653) and The Conspiracy of Julius Civilis (1661), are
meditations on the vanity of human endeavour, while his last
self-portraits defiantly assert the nobility of art.”,11109,740335,00.html

“Rembrandt's "Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer" was painted
in 1653. There is no reason to think Aristotle looked anything like
this. He almost certainly didn't dress like this. But it's still a
great painting.”

“The viewer looks at this painting as if perhaps he/she has intruded
on a personal moment of the philosopher Aristotle who seems to appear
in a deep, pensive state as his hand rests on the bust of the famous
poet, Homer. This painting uses an example of rhetoric which has an
inner meaning than what is being displayed on the surface. The image
is designed for one to recognize a familiar image as to mean something
else. Therefore, when one views this painting, one actually turns and
looks into ourselves the same way that Aristotle seems to be in
meditation. Perhaps, it is a mirror reflecting its creator. The device
of rhetoric is actually an ancient art of persuasion. Meaning that
this painting is convincing enough to suggest an individual to do the
same contemplation. Some scholars have suggested that Rembrandt's
attitude towards antiquity is hostile. However, his works are
considered realist incorporated with some classical style by looking
towards masters of the Renaissance she used classical elements which
appeared to have the appropriateness of anatomy and proportions of the
human body. Rembrandt dismissed to what he believed as silly and
painted people as how they looked in reality and not necessarily
dramatized them. It was known that Rembrandt used the busts and
statues of classical figures for inspiration himself. He incorporated
the qualities of antiquity such as the calmness, balance, simplicity
and solemnity. The one thing that cannot be identified as being a
piece that is realistic is that Aristotle is appearing to be wearing
an outfit of the 17th century. It is not a garment found during the
Greek age.”

Another area that helps determine if it is authentic or not, is how
well the light contrasts to the dark. This technique Rembrandt
borrowed from Caravaggio. Take for example The Anatomy of Dr. Tulp
(1632). The men all are dressed in black, the back and fore grounds
are also very dark. The expressive powers Rembrandt gave them is a key
factor in determining authentication. Their heads are strikingly
against the dark background, and their facial features seem to be
accented by their ruffles. The body, lying there in its pale, morbid
yellow skin, sits within a sea of darkness accentuating death. Later
in his life his backgrounds often took on a profound richness in
color, as in Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer (1653).
Whatever secret he used, his apprentices rarely duplicated

Esaias van de Velde-"Cattle Ferry" 1662

Esaias passed away in 1630 –

Therefore, a date of 1662 is not possible.

It seems that the work “The Cattle Ferry” dates back to 1622 –

A large digital image is available here –

Students of Van de Velde –

“Van de Velde painted genre and battle pictures, but is best known for
his realistic landscapes, by which he helped establish the Dutch
school of realistic landscape painting. His use of composition and
color in works such as Dune Landscape (1629) were especially
influential. He worked in Haarlem 1610-18 and then in The Hague where
he was Court Painter to the Prince Maurits and Frederick Hendrick,
until his death.”

“…his mature style is characterized by a striking naturalism created
by free brushwork and a deliberately restricted palette.”

Rembrandt-"lady +Gentlemen in Black" 1633

Digital image –

This work was stolen in 1990…

“Archival documents indicate that Rembrandt also painted a double
portrait of the Mennonite couple Jan Pietersz. Bruyningh and his wife
Hillegont Pietersdr.  Moutmaker…”

“The dress of the woman does not have the Mennonite simplicity of say
Marten Looten, but the man’s does.  Perhaps she was less committed to
her church than to her husband.”

“This is the only known painting that corresponds to an entry in the
death inventory of Jan Pietersz.  The Bruyninghs lived in a small,
bare dwelling behind their cloth shop in the Nieuwe Nieuwstraat, but
they had quite a nice collection of paintings.”

“Originally, there was a young boy playing in the foreground, but he
was covered over before the paint was dry.”

(perhaps he passed away?)

Excerpted from:

“Rembrandt – his life, his paintings,” by Gary Schwartz (Viking, 1985)

“Many of Rembrandt's portrait sitters (e.g., Marten Looten, 1632)
appear to have been Mennonites, religious conservatives, whom he met
through Uylenburgh and who were well connected with the Amsterdam

Rembrandt-"Judas Returning the 30 pieces of Silver" 1629  

Digital image –


Judas Returning the Thirty Silver-Pieces, 79 x 102.3 cm, dated 1629,
England, private collection

“The unusual, tall hat resembles the one in Judas Returning the 30
Pieces of Silver (1629) which leads to the assumption that the artist
wanted to portray a specifically Jewish feature. In stylistic terms
the old man with the hat resembles the Jeremiah with its luminous and
smooth colors.”

“Rembrandt (1606-1669) lived in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam.
During his lifetime, he saw how the Jews were forced to leave Portugal
and Spain to escape persecution. They fled to Holland. In 1657,
Holland declared the Jews "subjects and residents of the United
Netherlands" (17). However, Landsberger states that they were still
segregated. Rembrandt painted "Judas Returning the 30 Pieces of
Silver" in 1629. Here, Judas shows remorse for betraying Christ. He
throws himself on the ground, shaking his hands in despair. Judas is
viewed as the victim instead of the usual perpetrator. This is an odd
painting in that Judas is seen not as an evil being, but as a man who
has realized his mistakes. In most depictions of Judas, he is seen as
a menacing, faithless character. Rembrandt has presented a different
character of Judas because of his own friendly interaction with the
Jews he lived with.”

Also image of this etching.

“The repentant Judas returns the money to the high priests to whom he
betrayed Christ. This is derived from a work by the Dutch painter
Rembrandt, although it is a different composition than the best-known
painting he did of that subject in 1629.”

More at –

‘The turning point in Rembrandt’s further career was the visit to
Leiden of Constantijn Huygens, the widely educated secretary of the
governor Prince Frederick Hendrick, who developed great interest in
Rembrandt and his art. Huygens’ patronage led to commissions and
initial success: two works by Rembrandt were purchased by the English
Crown and many copies of his painting Judas Returning the Thirty
Pieces of Silver and the Raising of Lazarus were soon published.”

Hendrick Avercamp-"Winter scene on a Frozen Canal"

Digital image –


Oil on wood
Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio

“Active in Kampen, he was the most famous exponent of the winter
landscape. He was deaf and dumb and known as “the mute of Kampen”. His
paintings are colorful and lively, with carefully observed skaters,
tobogganers, golfers, and pedestrians Avercamp's work enjoyed great
popularity and he sold his drawings, many of which are tinted with
watercolor, as finished pictures to be pasted into the albums of

“Avercamp's pictures peopled with motley crowds of all ages and
classes skating, sledging, golfing, and fishing on the frozen canals
of Holland fascinate social historians as well as art historians. The
latter sometimes find him a troublesome painter, because it is
difficult to trace his development. The plain fact seems to be that he
did not have a marked one. From the very beginning he could paint a
landscape with a high horizon, a great accumulation of detail, and a
number of light colours, or one with a low horizon, few details, and
vivid colours in the foreground which lighten as they recede to the
distance. The two possibilities existed simultaneously and could be
used at will until the end of his career, depending on either the
artist's, or his patron's predilections.”

See more at –

Biography of Avercamp –

Aert van der neer-"Moonlit landscape with Bridge" 1648-1650  

Digital image –

Details –

Aert van der Neer
Moonlit Landscape with Bridge, probably 1648/1650
Patrons' Permanent Fund

“Here, luminous clouds float before a full moon. Reflecting the
moonlight, a stream runs through the center of the scene and directs
attention toward a church. A village and a walled estate close the
symmetrically composed space at either side. Beams from the moon glint
off window panes, glow upon a fashionable couple conversing by the
estate's ornate gateway, and silhouette a poor family crossing a

More at –

“The light is concentrated a little off center in the painting.  It
directs our eye to the church behind the bridge.   Space is composed
symmetrically.  A village on the left and a walled estate on the right
seem to frame the painting.   The handling of the cumulous and cirrus
clouds also aids in spatial recession.  His paintings are poetic in
the sensitivity he pays to the spatial effects of color.”

See more at –

“There are three major schools when talking about Baroque landscapes:
Flemish, Dutch, and Classical.  As an example of Flemish Landscape, I
have chosen to show you Peter Paul Rubens' Landscape With A Rainbow
and The Village Fete.  For Dutch landscapes I will show you a few
examples.  These include Jacob Ruisdael's, Wheat Fields, Meindart
Hobbema's A View On the High Road, and Aert van der Neer's Moonlit
Landscape with Bridge.  The last type of landscape painting is
represented best by French artists.  For this example, I will be
discussing Nicolas Poussin's Burial of Phocion.
Flemish painting is full of dynamic diagonals that move you around the
painting. “

More at –

Saloman van Ruysdael-"River Landscape with a Ferry" 1650

Digital image –


Artist:  	Salomon Van Ruysdael  
Title:  	River Landscape with a Ferry  
Date:  	1656  
Medium:  	oil on canvas  
Dimensions:  	H.41-1/2 x W.53 in.  
Credit Line:  	The William Hood Dunwoody Fund

“Salomon van Ruysdael (Dutch, 1600-1670), River Landscape with Ferry
Boat, 1650, oil on canvas, width 151 cm, Guildhall Library and
Guildhall Art Gallery, London. In the foreground a ferry boat crosses
the river carrying six people and five cows. Further along are two
fishing vessels pulled in near to the bank. In the distance a
structure resembling a water wheel can be seen. This device was used
to transport small vessels between waterways as an economical
alternative to the lock system.”

“The theme of ferryboat on a river popularized from the 1630s by
Salomon van Ruysdael and Jan van Goyen. Like the dunescapes of the
1620s, these images of ferryboats on a river were also created in
Haarlem in large numbers, one of them is van Ruysdael's River
landscape with Ferry (1649). Inland water transport was another of
17th century Holland's great achievements. The creation of land
brought with it the creation of canals; between 1632 and 1665 the
Dutch established a remarkable system of inland travel on these
canals. Jan van Goyen's View of the Hague (1651) showed how the canals
integrated in the scene and the lives of the Dutch.”

“Salomon, the uncle of the more dramatic Jacob van Ruisdael, is
unmistakable among the Dutch painters. River landscapes like this were
always his great theme. He constantly varied the simple compositional
scheme (or inverted it): A still expanse of water fills the foreground
of the picture and on one side extends to the far horizon; on the
other side there is wedged in a stretch of bank with vegetation,
farmsteads, haystacks and churches; a few tall trees soar up into a
friendly sky and spread out in delicate silhouettes; rowingboats,
sailboats or ferries animate the river, accompanied by their delicate
reflections. Salomon’s colours are also unmistakable: summery light,
not very vivid; also unmistakably his is the respectable painterly
technique, which has ensured the good state of preservation of most of
his paintings.”

“The elements of earth, air and water fuse almost imperceptibly. The
brush is flexible, fluent and precise. The painting exhales refreshing
coolness, spaciousness and rural seclusion. The painter has conjured a
sober poetry out of a corner of nature.”

(relates to another, similar picture – but very relevant)

I hope this response adequately addresses your request.  Please let me
know if you are in need of additional information concerning this


Search Strategy:

Rembrandt "self portrait with saskia" 1634
Rembrandt "self portrait" saskia 1634
Rembrandt "Descent from the Cross" 1634
Rembrandt "the mill" 1650
Rembrandt "last self portrait" 1669
Rembrandt "Aristotle contemplating the Bust of Homer" 1653  
Velde "Cattle Ferry" 1622
van de Velde "Cattle Ferry" 1622
Esaias van de Velde "Cattle Ferry" 1662
Rembrandt "lady and gentleman in black" 1633
Rembrandt bruyningh 1633
Rembrandt "Judas Returning" thirty pieces of Silver 1629  
hendrick avercamp "winter scene" canal
Aert van der neer "Moonlit landscape with Bridge"
Salomon van Ruysdael "River Landscape with a Ferry" 1650
starmorwen-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $15.00
again i am sorry for the late respnse..This answer was excellent! One
of the best I have recieved yet! Thank you so much!

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