Sunday, January 04, 2015

The sharp eye and the sure hand

This morning we went to see the Rembrandt: The Late Works exhibition at the National Gallery.  The show is nearing its end, and early in the morning the crush was not unacceptable.  It was difficult but not impossible to get near to the tiny etchings and drawings.  There is an excellent review here of the exhibition with links. 
An all-time favourite painting of mine is in the exhibition: A woman bathing in a stream, and I have added another to my favourites: Old woman reading.  This second is a painting of which I had not previously been aware, and it turns out that it belongs to a Scottish collection.  I was entranced by the use of the book as a light source.
The image used to publicise the exhibition is an appropriate one to illustrate one of the aspects of Rembrandt's skills which struck me: his observation of hands.  The old woman's hands holding the book that she is reading are just as important as the concentrated enlightened expression on her face.
Another old woman portrayed is Margaretha de Geer, Wife of Jacob Trip, and again the hands are beautiful (see detail above).  As are the hands of The Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet - similarly with a handkerchief held in the right hand (see detail below).
I was very taken with the ambiguity of expressions both facial and bodily - illustrated mostly through the hands - in the stunning The Jewish Bride (see detail below).
Even when the paint is loose, I admire the delicacy and strength of the arm and hand of the woman bathing:
Of course there were many other aspects of the exhibition which I enjoyed, but I think that Gerry's blog sums up so much better than I can.


  1. Olga, I love the images you have chosen. We're meant to go and see the exhibition some time this week, and what I have seen in your post makes me even more keen to go.