Rembrandt Drawing

blade, with its muscular attributes, and the clavicle or collarbone. The whole body is coherent ; consequently our descriptive separation is false. I have already spoken of the common error of beginners in overlooking the ' carrying on ' of the forms over different sections of the body. Bad draughtsmen draw a forearm to the elbow, or an upper arm to the shoulder, and leave it at that ; they overlook the rhythmic insertion of one group of forms into the other. Among other interesting facts, the drawing of a woman's back by Rembrandt (Fig. 62) shows this quality of the insertions of forms one into the other very well indeed ; we may almost say that it is the thesis of the drawing, that it is for the moment the gospel text of his aesthetic sermon. Nearest to us comes the pelvic and buttock mass, of which the truncated cone-like form often seen in women is well shown. Upwards one follows it to coherence with the thorax, whose existence is just indicated in a masterly way by the two little strokes just under the right armpit, and the subsequent insertion of the combined mass into the ' cape ' of the shoulders. Penetrated with this idea, Rembrandt has drawn the shoulder and arm lines in an enclosing parenthetical way, almost eliminating from their eloquence all other fact than that of insertion of mass into mass. Save for the one slight accent marking the limit of the posterior superior iliac spine (No. 2 on my diagrams, Figs. 59 et seqq.), the sacral triangle and the backbone line are unmarked. They are unmarked but not unobserved. The one little accent and the V at the top of the buttocks enable us to understand with certainty (as Rembrandt himself understood it) the inclination, slightly forward, of the triangle ; from it we instinctively feel the graceful curve of the backbone up the back, although the curve itself is only suggested. It is the rhythmic sweep of this curve through space that determines the growth of the neck out of the shoulders, and, in turn, the poise of the head on the neck. The varying rhythm of backbone movement has been perfectly and intensely felt by Rembrandt. Being perfectly and intensely felt, there is no need to transcribe the sensation in any but the most summary way. The gluteal V, the single iliac accent, the one curved line of the neck are enough to suggest all the rest. When any aesthetic rhythm is complete and valid, definite, delicate placing of but one or two of its components is all that is needed to suggest the fullness of its being. Indeed we experience much aesthetic satisfaction from comparing parsimony of means with completeness of result. I know of few instances of such pregnant use of line as this ; even certain Far Eastern masterpieces, more fascinating in various sensitive use of instrument—for the line of Rembrandt is somewhat wanting in variety—generally express less full summation of conjoint solid form. It is interesting to compare this drawing with that by Michael-Angelo reproduced in Fig. 92. The Florentine had a similar end in view, but his mind, developed on more glyptic lines, insists on a more complete implication of composite mass. Rembrandt, the pure painter, was able to deal with his figure as an unbroken area of light which collaborates with other background lights to engender his aesthetic whole. Michael-Angelo has conceived his figure apart, it is complete in itself, it can stand alone as a piece of sculpture in the round. Though it was not absolutely needful so to do, this mind position led him to enrich the movement with diversity of volume invention destined to give, from any point of view, a profile fully decorative in its own unaided arabesque. The art of Rembrandt dispenses with the composite invention of pose. Naturalist painter, he sought the material for his pictures uniquely among the gestures of daily life. His imagination almost restricted itself to strong creation of unusual light and shade. Michael-Angelo as a painter worked inversely ; like Le Poussin he first conceived his arrangement of volumes which stood complete without the

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

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