Saturday, January 03, 2009

My Old Color Book and Rembrandt

Two Rembrandt Portraits

"An Old Man in Thought" done by a Rembrandt follower

Rembrandt’s Limited Palette

Today while doing some research on the palette referenced in the book The History of Color in Painting by Faber Buren, a colored plate is referenced as being a Rembrandt. It is titled “An Old Man in Thought” in the book. After trying to find a reference to the painting and Rembrandt on the internet, I found that the painting was NOT a Rembrandt, but probably done by one of his followers. The painting is signed and dated as a Rembrandt. The National Gallery in London is the owner of the painting and has some great information regarding it. The painting was acquired by the NG of London in 1957 from the Duke of Devonshire.

Using the "zoom" feature on the NG website, I definitely could see the difference between a "real" Rembrandt and the want-to-be follower. There is a richness and luminosity that just is not there with the follower. Also, the hands do not seem to have the same quality as the Rembrandt. However, the painting is still a nice portrait.

In an earlier post, I had shown a picture of the colors typically used in Rembrandt's palette. Since the painting referenced in the book is not a Rembrandt, but a follower, hopefully the color palette still holds to be true.

It sounds like Rembrandt not only used a full palette, but he also used a limited palette for a great majority of his paintings. Most of these do not have blue and are of a golden quality and a palette limited to a warm white, golden yellow, red, brown, and an olive green. Rembrandt seldom used any pastel tones and no grays. He kept the warm white pure and did not mix it with any of the other colors. However, the other colors were mixed with one another as well as black. The dark areas of the painting remained very rich providing a major area to emphasize against the light, pure and small areas.

Now off to work on the portrait that I need to do for Karin Jurick's blog Different Strokes for Different Folks. We are all working from photos that we took of ourselves and then Karin exchanged our photo with someone else. All together she has 130 participants. The photo that I received is a tough one as the photo was taken from a straight on flash and not natural light. That means there are no shadows, no contrast and a white flash in the eyes. Now my artistic creativity must take over and try to pull something off that does not look like a pose of a deer stuck in headlights for my exchanged to the studio. I definitely am being pushed out of my comfort zone for this one!

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