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2008 | 33 | 231-245

Article title

REMBRANDT'S 'CURSED ART'. THE MYTH OF REBELLIOUS GENIUS IN THE 19TH CENTURY ARTISTIC CRITICISM AND PAINTING POLEMICS WITH ACADEMISM (Rembrandtowska 'sztuka wykleta'. Mit zbuntowanego geniusza w XIX-wiecznej krytyce.. i .. polemika z akademizmem)

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The purpose of this paper is to summarize Rembrandt's fortune critique in the 19th century. The main theoretical premises for the interpretation of his art were borrowed from the earlier historiography, which focused on the following issues: mastery of color, neglect of proper technical procedures, lack of 'fini', low, vulgar subjects - a consequence of the lack of education, good taste, and the rejection of classical norms of beauty, in particular in the depiction of human body. These characteristics already made of Rembrandt's art in the 17th century a paradigm of artistic nonconformism, trespassing and denying academic canons and conventions. They legitimated all the antiacademic attitudes in the 19th century but were also in a way assimilated into the mainstream of academic painting in the second half of that century. Rembrandt has been called already 'the first heretic in art' by the 17th century Dutch poet Andries Pels but still in the 20th century the legend of 'artiste maudit' was revived by André Malreaux. In fact, the greatest critics of Rembrandt in the 19th century - Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, Thoré-Bürger, Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, Hyppolite Taine or Eugene Fromentin praised and admired the Dutch master as an original painter of human emotions, a master of dramatic light and shadow. All the moral and formal values of Rembrandt's art - as an antithesis of official academic doctrine - started to be a notion of modernity for romantics, realists and even expressionists. Imagination and color (considered as a free, spontaneous and expressive way of painting) predestinated Rembrandt for the role of a patron of romanticism but also - in political terms - a figure of freedom and independence. This individuality was to be a heritage of the Dutch history: of a small nation who has not only thrown off the yoke of the Spanish empire in the 17th century but it was also able to create an original, native, national school of art, different of any other Italian or Flemish tradition. Rembrandt with his innate sense of freedom became a pattern of genius, giving an artistic license for 'heresy' in art to many of the 19th century artists, among others Georges Michel, Eugene Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, James Ensor, Lovis Corinth and Max Liebermann. The 'cliché' of an artist who is lonely, incomprehensible by the contemporaries, but faithful to his own rules became a myth, a part of his literary vie romancée. At the same time the mastership of Rembrandt's painting, drawing and graphic art was recognized by history of art; in 1852 there was erected in Amsterdam the first statue of the painter. Scientists as Edouard Koloff or Carel Vosmaer started to publish their research on the old master and in 1898 it took place in Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam the first monographic exhibition of Rembrandt.






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  • Agnieszka Rosales Rodriguez, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, Zbiory Sztuki Nowozytnej Obcej, al. Jerozolimskie 3, 00-495 Warszawa, Poland


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Publication order reference


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