There is a plethora of paintings by Flemish baroque artists in art museums all over the world. Besides feverishly exploring far and exotic lands and the wealth accumulated by Dutch seamen of the 17th century, it seems Flanders did nothing but paint portraits and still lives against dark backgrounds.
There are hundreds of such works by minor painters, proving the importance of art in that era. Among them, in their firmament, some are like planets which occupy a special place (think of Vermeer), with one who undoubtedly shines like the sun: Rembrandt Van Rijn.
With his two splendid works, “The Night Watch” (on permanent display in Amsterdam) and “The Anatomy Lesson” (in The Hague), Rembrandt became a gigantic figure in the art world.
Rembrandt’s self-portraits render him familiar to us, and the weaknesses and sorrows in his private life make him seem more humane. Yet he remains a venerated name for art-lovers.
Proof of his virtuosity and his talent can be found in various characteristics of his work. In the expressions on the faces he painted. The details of his etchings with biblical subjects. In the imposing chiaroscuro, evoking the work of Caravaggio. The atmosphere of his time as depicted in the clothes and the hairdos of his models.
Despite the large number of works he created, in his hands quality never suffered for quantity.
A little observation makes “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp,” with its shocking subject matter, even more unique: None of the people present are actually looking at the dissected corpse.
In 2019, the Netherlands honors its national treasure Rembrandt, 350 years after his death, with many exhibitions and events.
Such anniversaries offer us the opportunity to ponder why some artists still remain so much alive, even many centuries after their deaths.