Rembrandt and the Female Nude

Eric van Sluijter

Eric van Sluijter

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

448 pages | 100 color plates, 250 halftones | 6-1/8 x 9-1/4
Paper $30.50 ISBN: 9789053568378 Published March 2007 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada

Rembrandt’s extraordinary paintings of female nudes—Andromeda, Susanna, Diana and her Nymphs, Danaë, Bathsheba—as well as his etchings of nude women, have fascinated many generations of art lovers and art historians. But they also elicited vehement criticism when first shown, described as against-the-grain, anticlassical—even ugly and unpleasant. However, Rembrandt chose conventional subjects, kept close to time-honored pictorial schemes, and was well aware of the high prestige accorded to the depiction of the naked female body. Why, then, do these works deviate so radically from the depictions of nude women by other artists? To answer this question Eric Jan Sluijter, in Rembrandt and the Female Nude, examines Rembrandt’s paintings and etchings against the background of established pictorial traditions in the Netherlands and Italy. Exploring Rembrandt’s intense dialogue with the works of predecessors and peers, Sluijter demonstrates that, more than any other artist, Rembrandt set out to incite the greatest possible empathy in the viewer, an approach that had far-reaching consequences for the moral and erotic implications of the subjects Rembrandt chose to depict.

            In this richly illustrated study, Sluijter presents an innovative approach to Rembrandt’s views on the art of painting, his attitude towards antiquity and Italian art of the Renaissance, his sustained rivalry with the works of other artists, his handling of the moral and erotic issues inherent in subjects with female nudes, and the nature of his artistic choices.  

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"A comprehensive, sensitive examination of a compelling topic in Rembrandt studies. Essential."
Shirley Perlove | Historians of Netherlandish Art
"Rembrandt is revealed as an artist who drew heavily upon the visual tradition and its iconography, but also consulted text and used his own imagination to evolve a distinctive approach to the female nude. Sluijter's excellent book will be a classic on this subject for many decades to come. . . . It offers new ways of defining what is meant by 'realism' in Rembrandt's art."
Contents
Preface and Acknowledgments
 
I.  Introduction
Plates
 
II.  Andromeda Chained to the Rock
 
Andromeda by Hendrick Goltzius and his circle
The image of Andromeda's plight as metaphor
Rembrandt and Andromeda
 
III.  Intermezzo:  Rembrandt and the Depiction of the Passions in the 1620s and 1630s.
 
Rembrandt, Huygens, rhetoric, and antiquity
Samuel van Hoogstraten and Rembrandt's lijdingen des gemoeds
A theatrical analogy
Rembrandt, Rubens, antiquity, and the passions: a case study
 
IV.  Susanna and the Elders
 
Susanna in prints of the sixteenth century
Susanna in the early seventeenth century
Rembrandt's Susanna of 1636
Rembrandt's Susanna of 1647
Some other Amsterdam Susannas of c. 1640-1660
 
V.  Intermezzo:  Images of the Nude:  Moral Disapproval and Erotic Impact
 
Religious outrage
Moralizing disapproval
Erotic amusement
A 'virtual reality'
Playful erotic wit in images and texts
Paintings with nudes in private homes
 
VI.  Diana and Her Nymphs Surprised by Actaeon and the Discovery of Callisto's Pregnancy
 
Diana Surprised by Actaeon in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries
The Discovery of Callisto's Pregnancy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries
Rembrandt's painting of Diana and Her Nymphs
Seventeenth-century interpretations of the two fables and Rembrandt's invention
 
VII.  Intermezzo:  Rembrandt and Notions about Art: 'Coloring' and the "From Life' Ideology
 
Arnold Houbraken, Andries Pels, and Jan Emmens
Jan de Bisschop and Joost van den Vondel
Giorgio Vasari and Karel van Mander
Karel van Mander continued
From Rome to Holland:  debates in the first half of the seventeenth century
Joachim von Sandrart
 
VIII.  Danaë
 
Legendary paintings of Danaë
Titian's Danaë 1545
Goltzius's Danaë of 1603
Ketel, Wtewael, and Bloemaert
Back to Rembrandt's Danaë
Rembrandt's contemporaries
 
IX. Intermezzo: Imitation, Artistic Competition, and 'Rapen'
 
Van Mander, Angel, Van Hoogstraten, and Houbraken on the subject of rapen
Imitation as part of the learning process and beyond
Artistic competition
 
X.  Prints and Related Drawings:  Modeling and the Nude
 
The Diana and the Nude Woman Seated on the Mound
Sleeping Woman Approached by a Satyr
The Artist Drawing from the Nude Model ('Pygmalion'): Apelles Drawing Victory?
Cleopatra and Adam and Eve
Studies from the nude model, 1646-1661
Jupiter and Antiope
 
XI.  Intermezzo:  The Nude, the Artist, and the Female Model
 
The nude and the naked: 'ideal' versus 'real' from Kenneth Clark to the seventeenth century
Fictions about the artist and the nude female model
Drawing after the nude female model
Rembrandt's models: Hendrickje?
 
XII.  Bathsheba Contemplating King David's Letter
 
The pictorial tradition
Rembrandt's images of Bathsheba before 1654
Some paintings of Bathsheba of the 1640s and 1650s by Rembrandt's colleagues
Rembrandt's Bathsheba of 1654
Bathsheba, the sense of sight, and the depiction of beauty
The biblical Bathsheba
Rembrandt's Bathshebas
 
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Illustration Credits
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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