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Inspiration and Emulation

Selected Studies on Rubens and Rembrandt

Toshiharu Nakamura

Edited By Kayo Hirakawa

This book discusses an important theme in art history - artistic emulation that emphasizes the exchange between Flemish and Dutch art in the seventeenth century. Since the Middle Ages, copying has been perceived as an important step in artistic training. Originality, on the other hand, has been considered an indispensable hallmark of great works of art since the Renaissance. Therefore, in the seventeenth century, ambitious painters frequently drew inspiration from other artists’ works, attempting to surpass them in various aspects of aesthetic appeal. Drawing on this perspective, this book considers the problems of imitation, emulation, and artistic rivalry in seventeenth-century Netherlandish art. It primarily focuses on Rubens and Rembrandt, but also discusses other masters like van Dyck and Hals. It particularly results in expanding the extant body of knowledge in relation to Rubens’s influence on Rembrandt and Hals. Moreover, it reveals certain new aspects of Rubens and Rembrandt as work-shop masters - collaboration with specialists, use of oil sketches, and teaching methods to pupils for example.

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Rembrandt’s Andromeda

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1. Introduction

Due to the vanity of Cassiopeia, queen of Ethiopia, who had boasted that her daughter Andromeda surpassed the Nereids in beauty, the land was chastised by a sea monster sent by Poseidon. The monster would not go away until King Cepheus sacrificed his beautiful daughter. Perseus caught sight of the threatened beauty on his way back from his victory over Medusa and fell in love with her. He did not hesitate to battle the sea monster, successfully slaying it and freeing Andromeda.1

The story of Perseus and Andromeda was one of the most frequently represented mythological subjects in Dutch art in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It enjoyed particularly great popularity in the print productions by the renowned Hendrick Goltzius and his circle (figs. 65–68).2 A drawing by Anthonie Blocklandt van Montfoort and two paintings by Joachim Wtewael are also known to us (figs. 69, 70).3 Thus, Rembrandt would have certainly been familiar with some of his Dutch ← 123 | 124 → ← 124 | 125 → ← 125 | 126 → ← 126 | 127 → predecessors’ works when he painted the Andromeda (fig. 64, pl. 4) around 1630.4 In addition, the composition of Titian’s famous painting (fig. 86) had been disseminated through engravings by Ferrando Bertelli (fig. 71) and Giovanni Battista Fontana,5 which Rembrandt could have seen. It is noteworthy that even though this modest-sized painting (34 × 24.5 cm) represents the young Rembrandt’s first attempt at a mythological theme, it already shows his distinctive ability...

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