Dutch artists have, for centuries, been admired for the realistic quality of their work. Seventeenth-century landscapes and scenes of ordinary life are all here. One might suppose that the paintings were done directly from life; but it seems that most of them were produced with the aid of previously-executed sketches.
Drawings for Paintings: in the Age of Rembrandt by Ger Luijten and Peter Schatborn is a unique insight into the process of construction of these life-like paintings. These drawings were not rough cartoons but masterpieces in their own right. They were made and compiled into sketchbooks which could be referred to later when an appropriate project was commissioned. It appears that the ordinary townsfolk who acted as models could be transformed into saints or nobility.
In the artist’s sketchbook
Using modern infrared reflectography we can now see the underdrawing. This might more closely resemble the work found in the artist’s sketchbook than it does the finished oil painting. Artists included in this sumptuous and fascinating book are Hendrick Avercamp, Gerrit Berckheyde, Aelbert Cuyp, Jan van Goyen, Adriaen van Ostade, Jacob van Ruisdael, Pieter Saenredam, and Rembrandt van Rijn, among others. Each painter has his own fully illustrated chapter giving plenty of information on both sketches and final paintings. To use a culinary analogy – it’s very much like reading a recipe and then seeing the resulting dish with all its associated colour and texture.
Drawings for Paintings: in the Age of Rembrandt unveils the process of creating a realistic painting, whether still-life, landscape or portrait. It will be a book sought after by contemporary artists as well as those who have already fallen in love with this romantic age of fashion, power and beauty. This is gift quality and most impressive.
Drawings for Paintings: in the Age of Rembrandt
Written by: Ger Luijten, Peter Schatborn
Published by: Skira Editore
Art book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018