REMBRANDT AND HIS WORLD: Immortals of Art by Monroe Stearns


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Pushing close to the bounds of juvenile biography is this portrait of the artist as a painter in his milieu. Drawing on a variety of critical and biographical sources (the bibliography is up-to-date and quite inclusive), the author provides a detailed analysis of Rembrandt's work, painting by painting and year by year, within the framework of the facts of his life -- or is it the other way around? Mr. Stearns is weakest when he attempts to adduce Rembrandt's psychological state from the details or manner of his painting, on stronger ground when he reasons from circumstances and contacts into creation. The circle of influence narrows from the city and its leading citizens to the artist's family without glossing over his occasionally grubby extramarital difficulties, and without mincing any words: Rembrandt ""denied that he had sexual intercourse with (his housekeeper) repeatedly."" This episode, and a brief mention of a pupil and his model who were playing Adam and Eve-- whereupon Rembrandt burst in on ""the lecherous pair"" -- may give pause to children's librarians but the generally dry handling of this very real (for Rembrandt) problem can only be commended. Also aimed at an older audience is the stylistic diagnosis in depth, of special interest to an incipient artist. Most of the paintings and etchings and mentioned will be illustrated by black-and-white plates appropriately located throughout the text. Somewhat surprisingly, there is no life-and-works in print for a general audience, young or otherwise; despite its flaws of occasional overwriting and extra-sensory assumption, this will serve suitably.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1966
Publisher: Watts