Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

The History and More...

The Night Watch was painted by Rembrandt in 1642 during the Dutch Golden Age. The original name of the painting is actually called De Nachtwacht. It was painted with oils on a canvas and has been recognized as one of Rembrandt's most famous works of art. On top of that, it is also one of Rembrandt's most controversial paintings. With the dimensions of 142.9 in × 172.0 in, Night Watch just so happens to be the largest painting done by Rembrandt. Not only is the painting recognized for its massive size, it is also known for the contrasts of light and darkness as well being a military portrait.

The painting was originally hung in the Great Hall at the Kloveniersdoelen in Amsterdam which is now the Doelen Hotel. There have been several alterations to the original painting that was done. In 1715, the painting was cut on all four sides to fit the new location that it was to be moved to, the Amsterdam town hall. Then it was moved to the Trippenhuis which became the Rijksmuseum. The painting was moved again when the new Rijksmuseum was finished in 1885. When World War II broke out in 1939, the painting was moved to a castle in Medemblik where it was rolled around a cylinder. After the war had ended, the painting was brought back to the Rijksmuseum. For a painting of that size to have been moved so many times, it is still in amazing condition.

Speaking of amazing condition, the painting survived two major acts of vandalism. In 1975 the painting was vandalized with a butter knife leaving zigzag markings on the painting. In 1990, acid had been sprayed onto the painting by a man attempting to. Although it has been fully restored, the zigzag marks can still be seen to this very day.

Inside of the painting, Rembrandt painted the mayor of Amsterdam, Captain Franz Banning Cocq. He is standing next to his lieutenant, Willem van Ruytenburch. They are placed in the forefront of the painting and they are both placed in the light of the painting. Cocq is dressed in black with a red sash and van Ruytenburch is dressed in yellow with a white sash. The two men are the overall focal point of the painting and they are surrounded by the rest of the men. These men are musketeers. Along with the two men, there is a little girl that is in the light. She is dressed in yellow and she is behind Cocq.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Artist Himself

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a famous Dutch painter and etcher who was born on July 15, 1606 in the Netherlands. By many, he is considered to be one of the most prolific painters and etchers of the Dutch Golden Age. While he experienced much success during his early years as a portrait painter, his later years were blemished by financial adversity and misfortune. However, his etchings and paintings were quite popular throughout his lifetime and he was fortunate enough to have his reputation as an artist remain on high.

Rembrandt was born as the ninth child to Harmen Gerristszoon van Rijn and Neeltgen Willemsdothcher van Zuytbrouck. He came from a humble background being that his father was miller and his mother was a baker’s daughter. During his adolescent years he attended Latin school where he studied the classics like many of his contemporaries. He was then later enrolled at the University of Leiden. He spent three years as an apprentice to Leiden history painter Jacob van Swanenburgh, and then six months with the famous painter Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. In the early 1620s, Rembrandt opened a studio in Leiden that he shared with his good friend, Jan Lievens.

Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam at the end of 1631, for it had been rapidly expanding as the new business capital of the Netherlands. When he made the move, he began to practice as a professional portraitist for the first time. He had achieved a great success. He was initially living with an art dealer named Hendrick van Uylenberg and in 1634 he married Hendrick’s cousin, Saskia van Uylenberg. His newlywed wife came from a good family where her father was a lawyer and mayor of Leeuwarden. In 1639 he and his wife moved to the Jewish Quarters where they had four children. Saskia had then died in 1642 leaving Rembrandt and the children behind. It was not long before Rembrandt found love again. In the later years of the 1640s, Rembrandt began a relationship with Hendrickje Stoffel. He eventually married her after giving birth to a daughter.

During his career as an artist, Rembrandt produced 600 paintings, 300 etchings and 1,400 drawings. In these works, Rembrandt had done several biblical works such as The Raising of the Cross, Joseph Telling His Dreams, and The Stoning of Saint Stephen. In 1642, Rembrandt painted The Night Watch, which became his largest and most notable work. Rembrandt had several self portraits but his most famous self portrait was done in 1658. Rembrandt passed away on October 4, 1669 in Amsterdam. He outlived both of his wives and his eldest son. He left behind his daughters and all of his pieces of artwork.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Deeper Look Inside The Painting

The night watcher is considered to be one of the most important paintings in the whole history of Art. Initially the painting had been titled “Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch”, but it was later changed to “Night Watch” due to the suspension critics had about the portrait. The name was given by other critics because of the dirt and layers of stain; it was difficult for them to tell whether the lighting Rembrandt had provided came from the sun or the moon. It wasn’t until later the portrait was lighted and a different meaning was brought about.

Significantly the pictures importance is different from what it appears because they aren’t agents, but allegories figures, and symbols that represent the art of musketeer. The main characters are Captain Banning Cocq and his Lieutenant, but there are also 17 other members in the background who are ready to take action. The Captain steps confidently forward with hand out to give the order to his Lieutenant and the barrel angled up from the captain’s shoulder with powdery smoke as the musketeers that appeared to be in a scuffle in the background. The powerful contrast of the light and shade add to the sense of movement. The sense of lighting in this painting represents Rembrandts logical view point, and from an esthetic view as well, lighting appeared to be very important to him, critics often referred to him as his own sun-god. The shadow cast by the captain’s hand on the lieutenant’s coat may suggest the sun angle of the sun is 45 degrees left and the shadow of the captains extended leg show a different angle. Although it seems as if the photo was painted outdoors, he synchronized the light-opening and closing the shutters in his studio-for his own purpose, which was to create an atmosphere that was combined with dreamlike and dramatic.

Also there was a woman who was dressed gorgeously sparkling in the front. It is said that this golden girl resembled Rembrandt’s wife, Saskia. But it is a possibility that she wasn’t able to pose because she died in June of 1642, the year the “Night Watch” was completed. The mood in the painting is a triumphant one, instead of making the characters altogether Rembrandt left each man standing on its own as if they were absorbing their own thoughts.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Rembrandt is known as one of the greatest artist to live. He constantly had fresh and creative interpretations on landscape, daily life, nude photos, and many other themes that brought his fame and success. Many critics have said that his inspiration for his drawings came from the everyday world around us. He looks beyond physical beauty and substitutes it with moral expression. It has been said that many of his paintings were self portraits and many of the women that were drawn resembled his wife.

During the early 1600’s, Rembrandt developed an interest in landscape, with the success of these portraits it lasted him through two decades. His drawings and etchings showed a keen observation of nature, and originality. Many of his other paintings such as Winter Landscape were inspired from life on spot, which is rare during the Dutch century of the 1700’s. Throughout time he eventually earned the title of a mastermind story teller, who literary thoughts equaled out to a unique visual. Critics say he also used the mirror to study his face and many different emotions and facial expressions to give him ideas for the next photo.

Through his portraits, he strived to show the inner emotion behind the surface, In order for him to have a better perception about mankind he looked into himself and found his creativity and inspiration for his self portraits. Among the 2,300 works there are at least 90 self-portraits, 600 paintings and the rest etchings and drawings. In addition, Rembrandts face is now remembered as a legend who told stories behind his many different portraits.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Samuel Daniel

Samuel Daniel was born in 1562 near Taunton in Somerset. He was the son of a music master, had a brother named John Daniel and a sister named Rosa who married John Florio. Rosa was Edmund Spenser’s model for Rosalind in The Shepherd's Calendar. In 1579, he was admitted to what is now known as Hertford Collage at Oxford College, but was then known as Magdalen Hall. After remaining there for about three years, he then devoted himself to the study of poetry and philosophy.

1592, Daniel’s first known volume of verse that contained the cycle of sonnets to Delia and the romance called The Complaint of Rosamond. Without his consent, twenty seven of his sonnets where printed at the end of Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella. Later on in 1599, Daniel published a volume that was entitled “Poetical Essays” which contained “Musophilus”, “Civil Wars”, and “A Letter from Octavia to Marcus Antonius.” In 1601 the PanegyrickeCongratulatorie, the first folio volume of collected works by a living English poet, was published in a presentation folio. When Daniels was appointed master of the Queens revels he brought out a series of masques and pastoral tragic-comedies. Some of these works that were printed were the vision the Twelve Goddesses, The Queens Arcading an Adaptation of Guarani’s, Hymens Triumph, and some others.

Daniel’s poetic works are numerous and it is surprising to some because during the 18th century, so little Elizabethan Literature was read. However, despite this fact, he was able to retain his prestige and was very popular poet at the time. Nowadays his sonnets are the most read of his literary works. His sonnets were different from regular Italian Sonnets because his sonnets departed from ending in a capping couplet. In one of his higher order works, “The Complaint of Rosemond,” was the story where a murdered woman’s ghost appears and tells her fate in stanzas of exquisite pathos. Another work that Daniel was well known and acknowledged for was “Epistles to Distinguished Persons.” This piece was especially remarkable because it was composed in genuine terza rima.

Daniel died on October 14, 1619 and was acknowledged as a leading writer of his time. He was considered by many to be a great innovator in verse with a style that is full, easy and stately, without being very animated. It has been rumored that Daniel is a possible author of the anonymous play The Maid’s Metamorphosis but no concurrence has been reached on this matter.

by Samuel Daniel


CARE-CHARMER Sleep, son of the sable Night,
Brother to Death, in silent darkness born,
Relieve my languish, and restore the light ;
With dark forgetting of my care return.
And let the day be time enough to mourn
The shipwreck of my ill adventured youth :
Let waking eyes suffice to wail their scorn,
Without the torment of the night's untruth.
Cease, dreams, the images of day-desires,
To model forth the passions of the morrow ;
Never let rising Sun approve you liars
To add more grief to aggravate my sorrow :
Still let me sleep, embracing clouds in vain,
And never wake to feel the day's disdain.

An Explication of the Sonnet

This sonnet is a part of the Delia sonnet sequence. The Delia sonnet sequence is a series of sonnets that have been written to a woman. The majority of the sonnets in the sequence all have a depressing and gloomy tone over them as the speaker expresses their hurt that she has caused him. This sonnet is organized into three quatrains and a couplet structure and is a Shakespearean, or English, style sonnet. It follows the rhyme scheme abab, cdcd, efef, gg.

Let’s take the first quatrain and look more closely at it. In the first line, sleep is being personified and given the characteristic as a care-charmer. Sleep is the son of Night and a brother to Death. These words are capitalized because they give reference to the classical mythology of Hypnos, who is the god of sleep. That part alone tells the reader that there is a lager connection between sleep, death, and night for they all have a dark connotation to them. In fact in the second line, the speaker goes on to mention that Sleep is born “in silent darkness.” The speaker then asks to “relieve [his] languish and restore the light.” The speaker is directly talking to Sleep, which in this case refers to a woman. With her being compared to sleep, she has taken way the light in his life and he wants it back for he is wilting away. The fourth line of the quatrain tells that the speaker has forgotten his dark cares in his life but when Sleep comes, the pain of the past returns to him. The imagery in this quatrain quite dark with shades of blacks and grey. This puts the reader into a depressing state and can understand what the speaker is feeling.

The second stanza makes a continuation of the first stanza. The first line of this stanza begins with “and” which gives the signal of a list and a continuation. The speaker wants day to be enough time to cry and enough time to mourn all of the things that has happened in his “shipwrecked” and “ill-adventured youth.” In other words, the speaker wants the time when he is awake to be about coping with the past because it was a mess and compares it to a shipwreck. On top of that, it was unadventurous. Lines seven through eight say that eyes that are waken will be enough to “wail their scorn without the torment of the night’s untruth.” From this, the reader can see that the speaker cries at night but the night tells lies and it is tormenting.

The third stanza is the turning point of the entire poem. It starts off with the word cease, which really almost stops the entire sonnet because it is such a bold word. The dreams are the things that are ceasing in the poem because they are the images of the desires of the day and things that cannot be attained in the night. They are also the model for the passions of tomorrow and the substance of the things hoped for. The next line is a point of conviction where the speaker is firm in telling the reader to not let the sun prove them to be liars. The sun gives light and light is a revealer of truths. For the speaker, if truths are revealed, then it will add more weight and strain on the speaker and will “aggravate [his] sorrow.” The revealing will simply add more pain and make the pain worse.

The couplet wraps the entire sonnet up by telling Sleep, or the woman, to let him sleep and to embrace the clouds in vain so that he will never have to wake and feel the scorn of the day. It is like the speaker desires death rather than to face the light of day where the truths are revealed. It is almost as if the speaker wants to protect the woman from being exposed as a liar and someone who inflicts pain on others, so instead of telling on her, he would rather let death come for him.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Art and Literature: Truly Hand in Hand

Who would have thought that a painting and a sonnet could actually have something in common? They are both forms art, for they are both forms of creative expression; however they are under two completely different umbrellas. Rembrandt's The Night Watch, as mentioned before, is one of his most famous works that has been done. The size of the painting is massive and there are amazing variations between the dark and light contrasts of the painting. Rembrandt has mastered some great techniques when creating this piece. Samuel Daniel's sonnet 45 from the famous Delia sonnet sequence is a well known Shakespearean or English sonnet, of the sequence. Now how in the world do these two pieces of art relate to one another? It is quite interesting just how these two intersect with each other. The subject matter of both pieces are completely different; Rembrandt’s painting is based on Captain Cocq and his company of musketeers while Daniel’s sonnet is about a painful account given by a man.

First, both pieces are male dominated. In the painting, only men are seen in the scene. The men appear as if they are about to prepare for combat of some sort with their guns, spears, and harpoons. In the sonnet, the speaker is a male speaker. On top of that, there are male personified references to Sleep, Night, and Death. It seems that in both pieces, males are central figures.

In this time period, women are always placed somewhere in the background. In the painting there is a little girl dressed in gold, the color of victory. She is carrying around masculine items such as a chicken, a pistol, and a goblet. All of these items are associated with men and the fact there is a little girl holding them makes her seem submissive and subjected to men. In the text, Daniel’s speaker is in pain but the woman has a connection to all of the male personas of death, sleep, and death. The woman is not just one of these but she is all of these things to him which makes her inferior to men.

Although the painting is projecting new victories and the sonnet projects a melancholic tone, there are still connections that tie the two. Both pieces have a strong presence of dark and light. What makes the painting famous is how Rembrandt used variations with the darkness and light colors on the canvas. The musketeers are moving in from the darkness into the lighter areas as if it were morning. They are leaving the past and darkness behind them. When that happens, nothing else really matter after that. The painting shows time, transition, motion and change even though it is still. The sonnet also moves in this same way. In the first quatrain, speaker is trapped in darkness and as the sonnet moves, he acknowledges the light of morning and the light of a new day: the sun. The sun sheds light and truth because truth cannot live in darkness. Victory cannot live in darkness. The speaker in the poem wishes to remain in darkness in fear of the truth being revealed because it will cause more pain and grief on his sorrow. The speaker is also running his dreams and his visions as the musketeers step into clarity of a new vision. The speaker holds pain in his heart form his past, all the way from childhood until adulthood. The childhood aspect of the sonnet contrasts with the child in the painting who is covered in light and appears to be happy.

Regardless of how different a painting or poem maybe, there is something that always connects the two. In the case of Rembrandt and Daniel, there are similar symbols and similar imagery in darkness and in light.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Other Critics Are Saying: An Annotated Bibliography

Rembrandt as an artist is famous for his paintings and his etchings. He has done several works throughout his lifetime. His style consisted of portraits and landscapes with several religious themes. Rembrandt has been noted for being able to take biblical stories, interpret them, and turn them into visual works of art to tell a complete story.

It is always to important to find out what other scholars are saying about pieces of art, whether it be visual art, literary art, or performing art. With a piece such as The Night Watch which is so popular, it is imperative that we find out what is being said about the piece. Below are some basic summaries of the featured articles that were found that created a conversation about the piece.

"The Legend and the Man," in The World of Rembrandt: 1606-1669 (Time-Life Library of Art), Walter Wallace, New York, 1968, pp. 17-25

The article “The Legend and the Man” discusses the early life of Rembrandt and his journey to success. Rembradnt started his interest in painting when he was in his early childhood years. His inspiration came from his teacher Van Swanenburgh who taught him how to do his writings from real life experiences. It also mentions the relationship he had with his wife and the inspiration that she had given him on most of his self portraits. This article was essential to the blog because it gives feedback on many of his famous portraits and the reason behind his many themes within these paintings and drawings. The background information on his early life was helpful as well. The key element to this article is how it mentions the history behind The Night Watch. The painting had not been originally named The Night Watch; it was called Company of Captian Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenhurch. Also the article gives insight to the techniques that were used by Rembrandt to complete the picture. The painting had been “slathered” with varnish and “bold stokes” of impasto were also used.

"Rembrandt's Journey." The Art Institute of Chicago. Mar. 2004. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. .

The “Exhibition Themes” article gives an insight on Rembrandts stages of life and his phases with painting different types of portraits such as landscape, self portraits, and nudity. It explores the evolution of his life. His love for landscape and nature was explained in detail. The older he became the better he became an artist. It was not until his wife died that the most famous portrait the “night watch” was finished but went unknown for years. This article was significant because it explains the different phases Rembrandt went through until his death.

Berger, Harry. Manhood, Marriage and Mischief: Rembrandt’s “Night Watch and Other Dutch Group Portraits. Renaissance Quarterly. New York: Fordham University Press (2007): 972-973

The article “Manhood, Marriage and Mischief”, goes in great detail about the painting and the significance behind this portrait. From the beginning the portrait was analyzed wrong because when it was discovered old with dust and other vanish on it so it was hard to recognize the color. It wasn’t until later other critics saw a new meaning to the portrait. It also goes into detail about the angle of the soldiers. This was not intended to be a group photo; he specifically wanted each character to do something different to represent them. This article was very significant to the blog because it gives a good analysis on the portrait and each part of the portrait in explained in detail. Not only that, but Berger uses his skills as an analytic critic to give a critique on the painting in comparison to other works. Berger looks deeply into the themes and symbols of the painting and relates it to the time period in which it was painted. For instance the domestication of women and how there is a little girl who is actually featured in the painting.

"VQR » Supposing Rembrandt’s The Night Watch." VQR » Virginia Quarterly Review. Winter 2007. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. .

In “Supposing Rembrandt’s the Night Watch”, Berger discusses in depth details about the portrait. He specifies on the underlying message that is within the poem. The article gives you a different aspect of the painting. Berger believes that the picture tells a story about musketeers all excited and in preparation for war. Also noted in the article, the captain appears to be struggling with keeping his soldiers prepared for the next move. Although it is a group photo each character is doing its own thing which allows them to stand on their own but still has an impact on the overall painting. The little girl in the photo is said to have been Rembrandt’s wife for she resembles her. Much of the evidence from this article was used in the blog to find the theme and other unique things about the picture. The article also raises awareness that there are arguments among scholars about military pictures and how pictures display the chain of command.

“The Night Watch’ Restored”. The Burlington Magazine 118.884. The Burlington Magazine Publications (Nov. 1976): 731-781

This editorial was about the restoration of Rembrandts The Night Watch painting. The painting has been compared to other great paintings such as the Mona Lisa. It has also been compared to the Sistine Chapel for it brings thousand of admirers and that leave them both quiet and appreciative while looking upon it. However, with all of the praise that it has received, there have also been some very unfortunate things that have happened to the painting. For one, the painting is of large size and it has been quite difficult to transport. The main incident that was mentioned in the article was about a mentally disturbed man attacking the painting with a knife. The man had slashed it twelve times and left marks in the canvas. Although it has been fully restored in color to see the beauty that Rembrandt had intended, when looked upon closely the flaws can still be seen. On the bonus side, the new restoration has caused the difficulty to on lookers to take pictures. It would be quite hard to make a photographic copy of this painting.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Quick Quiz

1. What is Rembrandt's most famous painting?

2. Where are the majority of Rembrandt's works located?

3. When and where was Rembrandt born?

4. During what period was this painting created?

5. Who is featured in the painting?

6. Who is Samuel Daniel?

7. What type of poem by Daniel was chosen?

8. When and where was Daniel born?

9. Name one of Daniel's contemporaries.

10. How do the text and visual works of art tie together?