What I Learned On My Trip To L.A.


Fascinating exhibit at the Getty this weekend: Rembrandt & His Pupils.

It was a large collection of small-scale drawings (maybe 4 – 5 inches square.) They were in red chalk, occasionally combined with black; brown ink wash with quill pen drawing (some fine, some looking like brush work line), and plain pen-and-ink.

The idea was to show why Rembrandt was the master. Here’s why:

  • He made strategic use of light and dark…to create focus, to create composition, to create drama. Pupils sometimes “washed” too much of the painting, losing the contrast of light and dark or they failed to plan the pattern of darks to enhance the overall composition.
  • He varied his mark-making. Whether delicate hatching or bold strokes, Rembrandt used them all, with purpose. Pupils sometimes started with one kind of mark and just continued, creating a drawing with little differentiation.
  • He drew the faces of real people. Rembrandt caught distinctive faces with specific expressions. Pupils sometimes created crowds of same-faced people: easier but far less interesting.
  • Here’s an interactive exhibit demonstrating some of these points:
    Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils (Getty Center Exhibitions)

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