Artist: Rembrandt van Rijn is such a universal artist that we tend not to place him in a school or fashion, but the movement that makes most sense of his themes and radical innovations is the Baroque - the theatrical, emotive art and architecture that swept Europe in the 17th century. Rembrandt , born in Leiden but from onwards dominating the art world of Amsterdam, rejected the patient naturalism of Dutch art for a dramatic juxtaposition of portraiture and history, reality and myth, that is a one-man Dutch Baroque. His paintings of goddesses such as Flora and Juno are real women dressed up as the classical deities, giving mythology a pathos. Subject: Aristotle, ancient Greek philosopher, contemplates a bust of Homer , archaic poet, notional author of the Iliad and Odyssey. Distinguishing features: Homer is blind, his eyes brown voids that lead the eye into an inner darkness.
Structured data. Did I say anything important? Remmert, Volker R. Den Gulden Winckel der Konstlievende Nederlanders. This is doubly nostalgic: Aristotle, who lived in the fourth century BC, meditates on a portrait bust Contemplatnig Homer, a legendary figure from three centuries earlier. Alexander The Great had been tutored by Aristotle, who had fired him with an admiration for Homer. The timestamp is only as accurate as the clock in the camera, and it may be completely wrong. Only a year prior, Caesar van Everdingen had depicted the popular buts Contemplating the bust of homer Diogenes and Alexander the Great at a market. Liedtke, Dutch Paintings,fig. Enenkel and Paul J.
Als je een voor hyves van. Dutch Republic
Jan Steen, Feast of St. Retrieved May 1, In his Renaissance treatise On PaintingLeon Battista Alberti argued that one of the uses of art is to preserve the images of the dead so that they can be looked at many years later. Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. Besides noting the identities of the persons represented in the Aristotle painting scholars have speculated for some time over its deeper meaning and its relationship to the other two paintings. Rembrandt, The Jewish Bride. This has variously been interpreted as the man of Contemplating the bust of homer methodical science deferring to art, or as the wealthy and famous philosopher, wearing the jeweled belt given to him by Alexander the Great, envying the life of the poor blind bard. Other artists give us the appearance of their subjects; Rembrandt conveys interior life, a consciousness. Physiognomics is the study of the relationship between physical appearance on the one hand, and intelligence and character on the other. Views View Edit History. Rembrandt, Self-Portrait with Saskia. Rembrandt's Roughness. Contemplating the bust of homer presents a substantial argument that it was the famous ancient Greek Demi moore breasts Apelles who is depicted in Rembrandt's painting.
- Artist: Rembrandt van Rijn is such a universal artist that we tend not to place him in a school or fashion, but the movement that makes most sense of his themes and radical innovations is the Baroque - the theatrical, emotive art and architecture that swept Europe in the 17th century.
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This article analyzes the contradictory identifications of the subject of this work, from the very moment it arrived in Messina. With a novel focus on three layers of intrinsic and contextual information that are fundamental to identify the figure, it concludes that Rembrandt did not depict Aristotle or Albertus Magnus or any other historical figure, but instead the universal philosopher.
We have Aristotle as a philosopher with a central, moral problem of human experience. We see Aristotle in his late years and he is thinking, will I be remembered like I remember Homer? Material things, honor, fame, so what? Did I say anything important?
With this poetic statement, made in , Walter Liedtke professed his reverence for the painting by Rembrandt van Rijn — Indeed, the work, made in , is not a customary depiction of a classical philosopher fig. In fact, the portrait is so curious that it casts into doubt the very identification of the subject as Aristotle.
This uncertainty is further exacerbated by the fact that even the commissioner of the portrait was uncertain about who was ultimately represented in the painting. Some of the information in this note triggers specific questions: first, did Ruffo request a half-length figure of any type, or did he expressly ask for a philosopher?
In other words: Ruffo had no clue. So what happened here? We can assume that Ruffo had not asked for a specific philosopher, or he would not have had to guess. Considering other commissions made by the patron, it was more or less his practice to be non-specific. There is only one other philosopher known by Rembrandt, which is mentioned in a collection in The Hague in It makes sense that Ruffo would have commissioned a philosopher by giving hints as to his wishes to the two mediators of this transaction, Giacomo di Battista in Messina and Cornelis Gijsbertz van Goor in Amsterdam.
It is hard to believe that this classical bust originally would have been mistaken as anything but the image of the famous poet. After all, the particularities of a blind man with a headband as identifying Homer could be seen even in seventeenth-century illustrated encyclopedias. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the question as to whether the portrait featured Aristotle or Albertus Magnus seems to have been forgotten.
From on, however, only one of the two original identifications continued to be associated with the picture. To see if this is justified, let us take a closer look at the image of this philosopher. Contrary to what might be expected, Aristotle—despite being one of the most famous philosophers—is quite absent from seventeenth-century painting. This is particularly noteworthy in the Netherlands, where anecdotes about classical thinkers were literally popular. Owing to the rise of easily accessible commonplace and emblem books in the vernacular, nonacademic readers were able to read and view stories of Alexander the Great visiting Diogenes or of Hippocrates diagnosing Democritus.
Plato and Socrates play a small role in his book, but Aristotle never once appears. So how did the seventeenth-century art lover recognize the philosophorum princeps? A strong possibility is through illustrated encyclopedic overviews. In frontispieces we find a fifth variant, with Aristotle as a bald-headed graybeard fig. From natural history to astronomy, from rhetoric to poetics, the reception of Aristotle was shaped by many disciplines, but the tendency to question the authority of the philosopher was made especially urgent by new scientific approaches and experiments.
Vondel, among others, was inspired by strict Aristotelean rules in theater plays. The artist owned a bust of Aristotle and must have known about the philosopher even as a schoolboy in Leiden. As argued above, it is logical to assume that Ruffo specifically requested that Rembrandt paint a philosopher and not just a half-length figure.
Only a year prior, Caesar van Everdingen had depicted the popular story of Diogenes and Alexander the Great at a market.
His own teacher, Pieter Lastman, depicted Hippocrates visiting Democritus in Instead, Rembrandt must have investigated or been in some way aware of the Spanish approach to representing philosophers. One particular artist is noteworthy here: Jusepe de Ribera — Vaillant made, for example, a reversed mezzotint of a philosopher that was once entitled Aristotle—defining the precise subject is difficult in many of these unspecified images of classical thinkers fig.
Instead, he chose to depict the figure in a rich black and white dress, which Ruffo associated with guisa di monaco the dress of a monk , in particular that of the Dominican order, which was the religious background of Albertus Magnus. The facial characteristics are likely taken from a model and not, by contrast, from the bust of the philosopher owned by Rembrandt or other extant visual sources on Aristotle, since they have little in common with those discussed previously.
I argue, however, that Rembrandt gives his figure, with the hand resting on the sculpted head and therefore the mind , a different pose altogether. This gesture can instead be ascribed to the ultimate image of thinking: the central activity of the philosopher. Ruffo continued to collect by commission for this particular series, most probably with the same request: a half-length figure being more or less specified. However, the philosopher needs first and foremost to be understood as an autonomous painting: only eight to ten years later did Rembrandt create the other two.
So in a way, it is justified to retrospectively search for a link among the three. Indeed, Alexander and Homer can be combined with Aristotle, as was done by the shipmaster Nicolaes van Hol in an addition to the receipt for the latter two works in see Table 1.
More important and neglected over time is the evidence that Ruffo continued to question the identity of the philosopher see Table 1 and ignored a unique link with the other two paintings as well. Trying to find evidence for the identification of Aristotle, as scholars have done from the early twentieth century until now, means a focus only on step two and neglects several key aspects.
Without these elements the figure is merely a seventeenth-century scholar or—if one prefers—a Dominican scientist like Albertus Magnus. The result, as depicted by Rembrandt, provides instead the universal image of the philosopher.
I sort of got it in my gut or my heart. Menno Jonker is an independent curator and researcher. The topic of his PhD thesis is the perception of classical philosophers in art and science of the seventeenth-century Netherlands Radboud University.
I am grateful to the editors Stephanie Dickey and Alison M. Kettering, the anonymous reviewer, and the copyeditor Cynthia Newman Edwards for their comments.
Many thanks in particular to my research promoter Volker Manuth, to Pieter Roelofs and Marieke de Winkel, and to Angela Bartholomew for patiently correcting my English.
Writing art history is only satisfying thanks to the help of my friends and colleagues. The information in this table is derived from C. From on the table contains only a selection of scholars. The whereabouts of this painting are unknown. The painting is almost a kniestuk. Suggestions have been made that the painting has been trimmed; see a photographic reconstruction of the painting with missing strips at the bottom and sides in Hubert von Sonnenburg, Walter Liedtke, Carolyn Logan, Nadine M.
Orenstein, and Stephanie S. Dickey, eds. Incidentally, copies of two prints of male figures by Jan van Vliet after Rembrandt made for the French and Italian public bear added descriptions that identify the figure as Aristotle in one case and Democritus in the other.
Due to his close contact with van Vliet, Rembrandt must have been aware of this reidentification. See also Ernst van de Wetering, ed. Nuremberg, — For Homer in seventeenth-century art, see Eric M. Kessels , ed. Lardinois, M. Hunink, — Leiden and Boston: Brill, His Opera omnia dealt with physics, astronomy, and the animal world; see Albertus Magnus, Opera omnia , ed.
Jammy, 21 vols. Lyon, Karl A. Enenkel and Paul J. The two were also painted by Justus of Ghent ca. With thanks to Marieke de Winkel. Gestoffeert met veel treffelijcke historische, Philosophische, Poeetische morale ende schriftuerlijcke leeringen. Geciert met schoone kunstplaten oft Beeldenissen. Vermakelyck en stichtelijck voor alle staten van Menschen Amsterdam: Dirck Pietersz, The only applicable scene featuring Aristotle, in which the seductive Phyllis rides on his back, was a medieval and Renaissance legend.
See Thevet, Les vrais pourtraits. Volker R. Blom, H. Krop, and M. Wielema Hilversum: Verloren, , 43—44, Ackerman et al. Bots , ed. Korsten, P. Rietbergen, and J. Schenkeveld-van der Dussen, Nederlandse literatuur in de tijd van Rembrandt Utrecht: Bijleveld, , 67 and Stephanie S. Opposed by Liedtke, Dutch Paintings , , Several works by Ribera have been found in seventeenth-century collections in the Northern Netherlands including those of Van Goor and Uylenburgh ; see Mariska Dekker, Vergeten Spaanse meesters: Zeventiende-eeuwse Spaanse kunstwerken in de Noordelijke Nederlanden tussen , MA thesis, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, , 15, 17, Verhaak p.
With thanks to Volker Manuth.
Contemplating the bust of homer. Dutch Republic
Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (video) | Khan Academy
Regarded as one of the Greatest Paintings Ever. For the meaning of other pictures, see: Famous Paintings Analyzed. Considered to be one of the greatest portraits in 17th century Dutch painting , this impressive, if unusual, imaginary painting, was painted by Rembrandt for Don Antonio Ruffo of Messina , one of Sicily's great art collectors. On his death he owned paintings by numerous masters, including Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague-stricken of Palermo [c.
It is one of the few pictures commissioned from the Dutchman by a foreign buyer and was sent from Amsterdam to Ruffo's palace in Messina in the summer of The price was guilders.
Ruffo, who never travelled and who formed his collection through dealers and by correspondence, would have heard of Rembrandt through his contacts in Italy, where the artist had a considerable reputation for his skill in etching. Specifying only a half-length portrait of a philosopher, he ordered the work through his agent, Giacomo di Battista, who did business with Cornelis Gijsbrechtsz, a prosperous Amsterdam merchant.
Rembrandt wrote that all 3 should be hung together, with Alexander The Great in the middle. In , Ruffo also bought a large group of Rembrandt's etchings. In the painting, Aristotle BCE , the great Greek philosopher, is depicted standing in his study dressed in the robes of a Renaissance humanist.
His right hand rests on a bust of Homer probably one of several copies of ancient Greek busts owned by Rembrandt , while around his neck hangs a jewelled chain which includes a medallion of Alexander the Great.
For the figure of Aristotle, Rembrandt appears to have used one of the portraits he painted of Jews from the Amsterdam ghetto, some of whom he had employed as sitters for his biblical paintings. A follower of Caravaggism , Rembrandt conveys the solemnity of the painting through the dramatic use of tenebrism , focusing all attention on Aristotle's face, and chiaroscuro to create depth in the face and eyes.
All this creates an unforgettable image of profound contemplation. Besides noting the identities of the persons represented in the Aristotle painting scholars have speculated for some time over its deeper meaning and its relationship to the other two paintings. Nothing quite like this picture had ever been painted before. For a similarly revolutionary painting, see his historical work The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis , Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.
As to the picture's meaning, it may be unwise to seek too far, although some scholars have referred to the treatise Physiognomics , which was associated with Aristotle. Physiognomics is the study of the relationship between physical appearance on the one hand, and intelligence and character on the other.
According to this view, Aristotle is placing his hand on Homer's skull for physiognomic reasons. It is interesting to note that the Italian Baroque artist Guercino , who was sent a drawing of Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer by Ruffo in order for him to paint a companion piece to it, thought that the person depicted in it was a physiognomist.
However, according to the art scholar Julius Held Rembrandt's Aristotle , , most recently reprinted in Rembrandt Studies , , there is a much simpler explanation. Faced with the need to find an appropriate philosopher, Rembrandt found a way to present three of the greatest men of Greek antiquity: the philosopher Aristotle, the legendary epic poet Homer, and the great warrior Alexander the Great.
Alexander The Great had been tutored by Aristotle, who had fired him with an admiration for Homer. In the painting, his philosopher Aristotle compares two sets of values: on the one hand, everything that he admired in Homer - gravitas, humility, intellect and expression - and on the other, sumptuous wealth and material achievement, as embodied by the gold chain and iconic image of Alexander the Great. Ever since the 19th century, when a portrait's emotional content began to carry significant weight, Rembrandt's reputation as one of the best portrait artists has been upgraded to one of the best artists of all time.
Analysis of Other Paintings by Rembrandt. Nicolaes Tulp Mauritshuis, The Hague. All rights reserved. Interpretation of Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer Considered to be one of the greatest portraits in 17th century Dutch painting , this impressive, if unusual, imaginary painting, was painted by Rembrandt for Don Antonio Ruffo of Messina , one of Sicily's great art collectors.
The Commission Ruffo, who never travelled and who formed his collection through dealers and by correspondence, would have heard of Rembrandt through his contacts in Italy, where the artist had a considerable reputation for his skill in etching. Composition In the painting, Aristotle BCE , the great Greek philosopher, is depicted standing in his study dressed in the robes of a Renaissance humanist. Meaning As to the picture's meaning, it may be unwise to seek too far, although some scholars have referred to the treatise Physiognomics , which was associated with Aristotle.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn Ever since the 19th century, when a portrait's emotional content began to carry significant weight, Rembrandt's reputation as one of the best portrait artists has been upgraded to one of the best artists of all time.