Blog #2 Rembrant


Rembrandt van Rijn
Elephant drawings
Netherlands 1637

The two drawings shown are two of several drawings by Rembrandt of a female elephant thought to have been an Asian elephant named Hanske who was known to have been in Holland at this time.

Rembrandt, one of the most important painters in Dutch history also completed hundreds of drawings and etchings during his lifetime. As an artist in Holland, an independent Protestant Republic, Rembrandt was not commissioned by the church or royalty and relied on the new merchant class to buy his work. Amsterdam was the commercial capital of Europe and was intensely prosperous. Rembrandt’s work was produced for the new wealthy merchants who bought a lot of art to display in their homes, and reflected the environment of the protestant merchant class. Most of Rembrandt’s drawings were unsigned as they were often for his private use and acted as a record of his thoughts on paper, providing a snapshot of contemporary life in Amsterdam.

The reason I chose these drawings and not a painting or one of his many self-portraits was to show another facet of his work and the care and thought he put into his drawings. These black chalk drawings of what was an exotic animal at the time, were treated with the same care Rembrandt would have used for a commissioned portrait for members of the new merchant class. I love how through careful use of the strokes of chalk he evokes the rough and wrinkled texture of the animals skin. It is so lifelike and evokes emotion as was common with Baroque era paintings. His drawings capture his observations of the world and are reminders that this was the period in which traders and explorers were discovering the world overseas. Everyone became fascinated by “the exotic” and Rembrandt was no exception.

Although Rembrandt was not thought of as a painter of animals he actually included them throughout his works and they can often be seen on the sidelines of his paintings.

http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/

http://www.britishmuseum.org/

http://eev.liu.edu/

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3 Comments »

  1. Brandon Knelsen Said:

    I think you did a great job analyzing Rembrandt’s work here. You stated all the facts, discussed what you liked about the drawings, and connected it to the Merchant Class. I had never seen these drawings before, but I too appreciate how Rembrandt used strokes of chalk to evoke the rough and wrinkled texture of the Elephant’s skin. There is lots of emotion in this drawing which I love and I do think that Rembrandt was very talented.
    I did not know that he relied on the Merchant Class to buy his work and that his drawings were for private use, just records of his thoughts on paper. I find that pretty fascinating. Overall, I liked your post and found it very interesting, especially since I had never seen these drawings before. I liked your insight and I thought you were very detailed in your explanations. Good Job!

    Brandon Knelsen

  2. Amy Wright Said:

    What a surprise this blog was to me! I have never seen any of Rembrandt’s sketches of animals before, they are wonderful!
    You did a marvelous job of identifying all the factual information.
    You told us your opinion and made a nice link between the artists, his art and the Merchant Class. You stated “Most of Rembrandt’s drawings were unsigned as they were often for his private use and acted as a record of his thoughts on paper, providing a snapshot of contemporary life in Amsterdam.” I find that interesting and out of the ordinary for an artist. Artists usually want their names on their creations.
    Great Job!

  3. dnpseattle Said:

    I think you misspelled his name in the title of the post.


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