The Learned Eye: Regarding Art, Theory, and the Artist's Reputation

The Learned Eye: Regarding Art, Theory, and the Artist's Reputation

Language: English

Pages: 229

ISBN: 9053567135

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The ‘learned eye’ or oculus eruditus was a concept used by seventeenth-century writers on painting. It illustrated their view that the ideal artist was not only skilled in painting techniques, but also had knowledge of the history of art and an interest in poetry and literature.

In this book, dedicated to Rembrandt scholar Ernst van de Wetering, the ‘learned eye’ refers to the experienced eye of the art historian, the curator, or the restorer. More specifically, the concept explains an issue central to understanding seventeenth-century art and its context: the artist’s concern with the intellectual and social status of his profession. The book contains contributions on Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Frans Hals, Poussin and others, all linked by the theme of the ‘learned eye’, focusing on studio practice, theory of art, or the development of the artist's self-image.

These themes reflect the scope of research and teaching of Ernst van de Wetering who first trained as an artist before becoming an art historian. Since 1987 he has been professor of art history at the University of Amsterdam, and, for more than ten years, the inspiring leader of the Rembrandt Research Project.

The importance of starting with the art object itself is a familiar concept to anyone who has attended the lectures of Ernst van de Wetering, whose own familiarity with the painter’s craft, with Rembrandt’s studio practice, and the history of art has ‘opened the eyes’ of many.

This book brings together essays by some of Van de Wetering’s students, colleagues and friends, who were influenced in different ways by his approach to the art of painting. The contributors touch on four main issues. The first concerns material aspects of the work of art. Second, these findings are confronted with the rules of art that were recorded by contemporaries. Third, the ‘learned eye’ figures as part of the artists’ desire to enhance the status of their profession. The fourth issue situates painting in its context of patrons and art lovers, who wanted to learn the basic principles of painting and obtain ‘eruditos oculos’ themselves.

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self-portrait private huygens hhk 87 1619 self-portrait lpz 347 1643 christ b 811c 1350 1400 1450 1625 1635 1500 1550 1600 1650 fig. 2 – Dendrochronological datings of some panels used by Rembrandt. The year refers to the date of the last ring of the board. An identical grey-tone inside the bars means that the wood came from the same tree. The black sections refer to the presence of sapwood rings 32 the learned eye 1700 boek The Learned Eye V5 09-02-2005 16:50 Pagina 33

the book on Suyderhoef’s engraving looks very much like the motive on the book on the painting. Under the microscope it appeared that the notoriously badly drying lead-tin-yellow, with which all the decorations on the book had been done, misses quite some paint. How the motive on the book must have looked on the painting could be recognized under enlargement, because remnants of the original paint were still there. The image that could be reconstructed this way was identical to the motive on

citron-yellow lamps with a glow of orange and green. Everywhere there is a clash and contrast of the most disparate reds and greens...’ 2 When he chose colours for The Night Café, Van Gogh was less concerned with the concept of houding that was so important to Rembrandt than with the expressive energy and emotional passions that they would unleash in the viewer. He had, of course, different artistic aims than Rembrandt and his contemporaries. Nevertheless, one wonders whether we have too often

extend love sentiments was colour symbolism. Whether she (and/or Harmen) copied their list of colour symbols directly from a preexisting source, or compiled it from various texts is not known. It is probable that some of their colour symbolism was culled from the Dutch edition of Ripa, where the colours of the robes of allegorical figures representing abstract qualities such as love, hope and purity are indicated.19 For example, as in Gesina and Harmen’s list, Ripa described Hope as being dressed

after he came home, Goltzius made the Meisterstiche, introduced by Van Mander as ‘[...] six pieces, which he did after he returned from Italy: since he remembered what handelingen he had seen everywhere, he demonstrated with one and the same hand the various handelingen following his own invention [...]’ 21 Thus, apart from the two prints in the style of Dürer and Lucas van Leyden, he appropriated in the other four prints the manners of several contemporary Italian eric jan sluijter 161 boek

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