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Rembrandt Portrait of the Artist, 1665 on Display at the MFA

Rembrandt Portrait of the Artist, 1665 on Display at the MFA

Rembrandt van Rijn is considered one of the greatest masters in European art history, a genius who's works have sold for a staggering $33.2 million at Christie's (the lucky owner remains anonymous). Ironically, as is the case of many a great artist, the man himself died bankrupt, leaving behind a few painting utensils and ragged clothing. You could say his life was as chaotic as his work is truthful, and both extremes are evident in his self-portraits.

Rembrandt opted for a 'warts and all' realism, and he certainly never tried to conceal his own flaws. It is precisely because of this honesty, that even we who live in a society dominated by the lust for physical perfection find ourselves forgetting about beauty - albeit briefly.

Rembrandt's Portrait of the Artist, 1665 is on a four-stop tour of America - along with 48 other masterpieces in the exhibit Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London - currently on show in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

This collection was a bequest made to Kenwood House by a playboy made good - Lord Iveagh, the heir to the Guinness fortune (Iveagh ran with the likes of the Rothschild's). Yet, contrary to Iveagh's high-octane life style, his collection reveals a penchant for lyrical landscape, portraiture and seventeenth-century Flemish and Dutch works.

This is the first time many of the Iveagh works have left Europe, including Rembrandt's Portrait of the Artist, 1665. Here we see the poverty-ridden, old master in steely defiance of age, and it is truly a sight to behold. Hanging next to the MFA's own Rembrandt, Self-Portrait 1660, it provides the rare opportunity to witness his varying styles side by side - size, composition and expression are all different. Who knows what Rembrandt was communicating to his peers? In his time, self-portraits functioned as messages of status, wealth, education and professional advertisement. Our modern eyes see something else, the emotional and physical journey of a man, captured with brutal honesty.

For more information visit the MFA - http://www.mfah.org/exhibitions/rembrandt-van-dyck-gainsborough-treasures-kenwood-/.

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Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

1001 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX 77005

713-639-7300

www.mfah.org


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