REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
(b. 1606, Leiden, d. 1669, Amsterdam)

Stormy Landscape

c. 1638
Oil on wood, 52 x 72 cm
Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig

Catalogue number: Bredius 441.

Rembrandt began painting landscapes after the middle of the 1630s. His work in this important branch of Dutch painting is a very small part of his oeuvre. Today less than ten are attributable to him. But we know he must have painted at least a few more. His 1656 inventory lists eleven, some of which are not identical with those that have survived. His other existing painted landscapes belong to a different category. They are imaginary panoramic views of broad valleys and mountain ranges, gigantic trees, fantastic buildings and ruins in which the influence of Hercules Seger is obvious. Characteristic of them is this Stormy Landscape.

In this dramatic view with deep emotional overtones, threatening storm clouds, pierced by bursts of warm sunlight, fill the land with darkness. Here Rembrandt imposes his brilliant Baroque imagination upon nature. The drama of the chiaroscuro does not describe meteorological conditions, but embodies Rembrandt's reaction to the mysterious forces of the sky and the earth. Something of Rubens's exuberant response to nature can be felt, but Rembrandt's landscapes are always more mysterious and less colourful than those of the Flemish master. The colour remains fairly subdued, with a few brilliant contrasts of golden yellow and browns against greens, pinks, and greys.

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