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<p>Rembrandt van Rijn, Man Drawing from a Cast, c. 1641

Rembrandt van Rijn, Man Drawing from a Cast, c. 1641, etching, Rosenwald Collection, 1943.3.7184

Rembrandt’s Art History: Rivaling Rubens

Center Research Talks

  • Thursday, September 29, 2022
  • 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • West Building Lecture Hall and Virtual

Registration is required.

Join us for a public lecture presented by H. Perry Chapman, Kress-Beinecke Professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts and Professor Emerita in Northern Baroque Art at the University of Delaware.

Rembrandt lived in an age of art history. In the wake of antiquity’s rebirth and the biographical art histories by Giorgio Vasari (1550) and Karel van Mander (1604), ambitious artists operated with acute art historical self-awareness, as they emulated past artists, vied with their contemporaries, and shaped their places in art’s history. In Italy, this art historical imperative is manifest in Michelangelo’s and Raphael’s competitive striving to surpass antiquity, as well as in Bernini’s imitation of Michelangelo. There, too, prioritizing precedence came under siege from Caravaggio’s irreverence toward classicism and reliance on nature. 

Among Dutch 17th-century painters, Rembrandt stands out for his voracious appetite for the art of the past, for his chafing against the rules of art, and for his career-long series of self-imposed rivalries—with his fellow townsmen Lucas van Leyden and Jan Lievens, and with the Italians Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Titian—that spurred his creativity and inventiveness.

Peter Paul Rubens also looms large in this story. An international court painter famed for his lively assimilation of classical antiquity, Rubens was favored in the young Rembrandt’s immediate milieu. This paper explores how Rembrandt, through his oppositional rivaling of Rubens, achieved epochal transformation, and staked his place, in the history of art.