Rembrandt

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Rembrandt moved from Leiden to Amsterdam during a time of vast economical growth in the capital due to the expansion of the United East Indiies Company. This growth increased Amsterdam's population to over 90,000 which became one reason for the project to reclaim land that had been eroded into the sea. Rembrandt could not have chosen a better time to move to the capital. Amsterdam had become one[...]
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Rembrandt moved from Leiden to Amsterdam during a time of vast economical growth in the capital due to the expansion of the United East Indiies Company. This growth increased Amsterdam's population to over 90,000 which became one reason for the project to reclaim land that had been eroded into the sea. Rembrandt could not have chosen a better time to move to the capital. Amsterdam had become one of Northern Europe's leading Art communities. Within one year Rembrandt had already acquired a reputation as a well known portraitist. Rembrandt's first portraits struck a balance between liveliness and elegance, in addition to fanatical detail, and this novel combination brought him instant business.

It was during his first decade in Amsterdam when Rembrandt was commissioned most often by businessmen as well as significant figures from various religious groups and organizations. As Rembrandt's career flourished he attracted many assistants and pupils as he did with Dou and Jouderville in Leiden. By 1636 Rembrandt had captured a huge share of Amsterdam's market for portraiture, received commissions from the court in the Hague, set up an active workshop, married a burgomaster's daughter and moved to a prestigious address.

An example of one of Rembrandt's commissioned portraits during this early period is Old Man in a Gorget and Black Cap, 1631, located at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The subject is sitting slightly turned to the right. He is clad in a lavish black garment and hat with a black feather. Around his neck he wears a metal collar that sits to the middle of his chest. In addition he sports a gold, jewel encrusted necklace worn just below the metal shield-like object as well as a gold earring with a precious stone. The sitter's facial features are illustrated with extreme precision and detail on every wrinkle, fold, and hair - creating a naturalistic expression. It was this style that aided in Rembrandt's fame in such a short time frame.

Although Rembrandt had gained entry into Amsterdam through portraiture, he did not sacrifice his intention of becoming a history painter. He initially continued to paint the small biblical panels that had brought him distinction in Leiden, but by 1635 he had developed new specialties in mythological subjects and large, dramatic biblical scenes. Rembrandt's new approach in history painting must have contributed greatly to his financial and social success.
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