It’s debatable for sure, but there are a number of people who think he did. This piece (from a few years ago) titled The Mirrors Behind Rembrandt’s Self-Portraits in The New York Times looks into one paper that argues so
In a paper published Wednesday in the Journal of Optics, Mr. O’Neill lays out a theory that Rembrandt set up flat and concave mirrors to project his subjects — including himself — onto surfaces before painting or etching them.
By tracing these projections, the 17th-century painter would have been able to achieve a higher degree of precision, Mr. O’Neill said. His research suggests that some of Rembrandt’s most prominent work may not have been done purely freehand, as many art historians believe.
He is not the first to suggest that old master painters used optics for their famous portraits.
In 2001, David Hockney, a renowned British painter, and Charles Falco, an optical sciences professor at the University of Arizona, published a book in which they argued that master painters secretly used mirrors and lenses to create hyperrealistic paintings, starting in the Renaissance.
Their theory, known as the Hockney-Falco thesis, generated controversy among scientists and art historians, some of whom took the findings as an implication that old master painters had “cheated” to produce their works.
I’ve read Hockney on this and he makes a strong case too. Not everyone agrees though. It’s worth reading the article and get a better picture, pardon the pun.
My thought is it’s likely all artists of the time would have used them to some extent. But Rembrandt is such a remarkable painter that it can only account for some of his greatness, if any.
What if your goal was to see all the Vermeer paintings in the world? There are not that many: you just need to travel a lot to do it. One person set out to do that. See Vermeer Goals for details.
Now, you might think: ugh, painting is alot of work. But as this piece shows, there’s some good paint jobs you can do in a weekend that still leaves you time to do other things.
For example, you can paint a door:
Or even just part of a wall, like the moulding:
The piece in Apartment Therapy is worth looking at to get ideas. If you’ve been tired of looking at the same old space and you don’t want to get new furnishings, a splash of paint can do the trick of improving the space.
Another option: do a painting (or buy a painting if shopping vs doing is your thing). This article has lots of examples, such as this:
And if you think: I suck at art, then read this piece in Hypoallergic about how making art, no matter how bad, can reduce stress.
Now head to the paint store and start your next project.
(See the articles for credits for the pictures.)
Easy! Just follow these three simple steps:
- Apply for one of the 250 permits the museum gives out each year.
- Bring your supplies and stand in front of the painting you want to copy. You can do this most days in the months of September through June from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Start painting.
Ok, it’s not quite that easy. Even if you can perfectly reproduce the work you stand before, the staff of the Louvre take steps to insure no one mistakes your work for the original, as this NYTimes article points out. For example, in this article, they made sure that the copyists used
canvases that were one-fifth smaller or larger than the original, and that the original artists’ signatures were not reproduced on the copies. Then (the staff) stamped the backs of the canvases with a Louvre seal, added (the staff’s) own signature and escorted (the copyists) from the museum.
It’s a fine article highlighting a great tradition of the Louvre: well worth reading.
(Photo by IVAN GUILBERT / COSMOS and linked to in the article)
Whatever you think of George W. Bush as a president, most agree he is not bad painter. There are two reasons for the latter: one, he had good teachers, and two, he is a good student. How do I know he had good teachers? According to this, Pocket: Art critics alarmed to discover that George W. Bush is actually a pretty good painter, Bush…
… didn’t have to sign up for classes at a local art school or the museum, of course. Instead, he took private lessons from a prominent Dallas artist named Gail Norfleet. Norfleet wrought a change in Bush’s worldview. He began to see the colors even in shadows, the subtle shifts of palette in a clear blue sky. “I was getting comfortable with the concepts of values and tones,” Bush writes in the introduction to his book. Norfleet also thoughtfully introduced the once monochromatic president to her mentor, another well-known Dallas artist named Roger Winter, and it was he who gave Bush the idea to paint world leaders. Bush also consulted a landscape painter, Jim Woodson, whose visions of the vast, untouched terrain of New Mexico are nothing like the conventional bluebonnet vistas many still associate with Texas art. It was Woodson who introduced Bush to, among other things, larger canvases and thicker paint, and guided him toward a more complex view of the world about him. (Underlying by me for emphasis).
Bush took the lessons from these teachers to heart. But he was fortunate to have access to good teachers. A lesson for us all.