The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt: Reinventing an Old Master in 19th-century France

The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt: Reinventing an Old Master in 19th-century France

Alison McQueen

Language: English

Pages: 389

ISBN: 2:00281481

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Rembrandt's life and art had a mythical resonance among nineteenth-century French artists, writers and collectors. Artists and critics used Rembrandt's artistic persona as a benchmark and justification for their own goals and some reconstructed and falsified history while making making Rembrandt and ancestral figure whom they heralded as their talisman.

This study, the first in-depth examination of the reception of Rembrandt in nineteenth-century France, analyzes the preoccupation with his perceived authenticity, originality and republicanism. This innovative book considers the written texts, prints, sculpture, painting, posters, and theatrical performances that demonstrate the growing power of the myth of Rembrandt. The first in-depth overview of the perception of Rembrandt among the French 19th-century intelligentsia. A fascinating investigation of the circumstances in France that fostered present-day debates over Rembrandt's art.

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grande Juive” also received particular attention. Brothers Edmond and Jules de Goncourt noted the “Juiverie” of Rembrandt’s work in their journal; they remarked on his mysterious synagogues and identified the principal diminutive enigmatic female figure in The Night Watch as a Jewish woman, as did Fromentin.173 Another critic identified Portrait of a Woman [plate 4] in the Louvre as a “Jewish bride.” 174 One critic even thought Rembrandt had chosen numerous Old Testament subjects simply as an

it gives is one.... Beauty is made of an eternal, invariable element, whose quantity is excessively difficult to determine, and of a relative, circumstancial element, which will be, if you like, each in turn or all together, the era, the fashion, the morals, the passion. 217 Baudelaire’s promotion of a more diverse definition of beauty and the importance of using contemporary life and society as a subject relates to the tactics many of his contemporaries used to defend Rembrandt. There are also

ideal realms in Rembrandt’s art.226 Blanc ultimately tried to escape from the complexities of this debate by saying that Rembrandt’s art represented a new ideal.227 Thus, he said Rembrandt assumed an exceptional status as the only Dutch artist capable of producing ideal art in a country that did not have this tradition. The majority of French critics believed Rembrandt’s art was self-consciously opposed to Italian traditions and ideal art. Jules Renouvier, author of an important print treatise

Veronese and Lebrun, he grouped Rembrandt with Tintoretto, El Greco, and Delacroix as tormented artists. He stated that calm artists painted simply for the sake of painting and were famous decorators but they did not bleed when they produced art, which for Champfleury meant their art was not as good. Champfleury also thought fast producers like Rubens only used their muscles when painting, whereas he believed tormented artists expended 108 the rise of the cult of rembrandt blood and bone with

historical works. These works often emulated the choice of subject matter and the application of paint practiced by fifteenthand seventeenth-century northern European artists.286 Ingres’ Raphael and the Fornarina is among the most discussed paintings in this genre, as are works by François Marius Granet, Joseph-Nicolas Robertpicturing the myth 127 Fleury, and Léon Cogniet.287 Scenes of artists’ lives were exhibited at the Salons in increasing quantity from 1804 to the 1860s; their numbers then

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