Rembrandt’s Rivals

History Painting in Amsterdam (1630–1650)

| University of Amsterdam
ISBN 9789027249661 | EUR 140.00 | USD 210.00
During the period of Rembrandt’s career the Amsterdam art market grew with breathtaking speed. Each painter had to secure a place professionally and make a living, which would have been no small matter. In what kind of paintings should he specialize? How could he distinguish his works from those of his colleagues and find buyers for his products? How did he acquire a reputation, and how much were clients willing to pay? Every painter would have continuously asked himself such pressing questions. These are also the leading questions of this study, which examines the depiction of Biblical and other religious themes, classical mythology, and classical and post-classical literature across the entire range of production, from expensive high-quality works to cheap pictures. The book begins at the moment that a considerable number of young artists – among them Rembrandt – settled in Amsterdam. Twenty years later, the quantity, diversity and quality of the production of history paintings, propelled by artistic rivalry, reached its summit.
[OCULI: Studies in the Arts of the Low Countries, 14]  2015.  x, 486 pp., 297 bl/wh ills. + 329 full color ills.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
I. 'Here is the stock exchange and the money, and the love of art.' An introduction to the Golden Age of Amsterdam and its history painting
II. Great ambitions and stunning innovations. Newcomers settling in Amsterdam: Rembrandt, Flinck, Sandrart, Backer and Breenbergh
II A. Rembrandt and Sandrart
II B. Flinck, Backer and Breenbergh
III. A network of moderately successful Amsterdam natives. Claes Moyaert, Adriaen van Nieulandt, Isaac Isaacsz and Salomon Koninck
IV. Of modest masters and cheap production: David Colijns, Rombout van Troyen, Daniël Thivart, Jan Micker and others
V. An occasional history painting by specialists in other fields: Thomas de Keyser, Nicolaes Eliasz Pickenoy, Dirck Dircksz Santvoort, Pieter Codde, and Pieter Potter
VI. Two minor masters looking at Rembrandt: Willem Bartsius and Gerrit Willemsz Horst
VII. A younger generation of talented artists starting out around 1640: The early careers of Ferdinand Bol, Gerbrand van den Eeckhout and Jan Victors, and the beginnings of the Amsterdam careers of Jacob van Loo and Jan Lievens
VIII. Summarizing epilogue
“This richly illustrated study is essential for students of Dutch art and a methodological model for other areas.”
Rembrandt’s Rivals captures the intense artistic competition that spurred innovation and excellence among the history painters of Amsterdam’s Golden Age. The story begins with Rembrandt’s irreverent emulations of past masters, brilliant invention of a new style, and astute manipulation of the market. Sluijter’s masterful account of the flourishing community of history painters around Rembrandt provides a clearer picture than ever before of how ambitious artists, such as Sandrart and Flinck, thrived on rivalry—with antiquity, with Italy, with Rubens and Rembrandt, with teachers and colleagues—as they redirected painting. Unprecedented is Sluijter’s illuminating and deeply researched description of the low end of the market, the little-known painters who barely scraped by, selling cheap pictures within their local neighborhoods. By probing the intersections between artistic rivalry and economic competition, this milestone contribution brings a new critical dimension to our understanding of the creative and professional lives of artists.”
“This book is at once a dense survey of a great moment in the history of art, that of history painting in Rembrandt’s Amsterdam, and a profound study of the type of work that meant the most to him: the interpretation of beliefs and stories inherited from the past, which were often seen as expressions of essential truths and moral values. A great deal is said here about Rembrandt’s artistic virtues, his reception by contemporary critics and patrons, and his relationship to other history painters of the time, many of whom were strongly influenced by him (incisive discussions are devoted to Backer, Flinck, Eeckhout, Bol, Sandrart, and others). Especially revealing are the pages on Rembrandt’s concept of the artist, which descended from that of High Renaissance masters and (as with El Greco and Guido Reni) led to uncompromising positions on price, style, content, and delivery dates. By contrast, many Amsterdam artists carefully responded to their customers’ expectations, as well as to Rembrandt and other real or imagined rivals (such as Lastman, Breenbergh, and Rubens). By placing Rembrandt and his circle within the sphere of all the history painters in Amsterdam and their diverse society Eric Jan Sluijter has painted a rich and complex picture of a visual culture unique to the Dutch Republic.”
“Das ausserordentliche verdienst dieses Buches is fraglos der jeweils pointierte Blick auf alle Protagonisten des Feldes der Amsterdamer Historienmalerei. Gegen den tradierten Blick auf Rembrandt and seine Schüler setzt Eric Jan Sluiter eine Perspective, die den unterschiedlichen Protagonisten und den Interdependenzen ihrer Werke und ihres Wirkens Raum bietet. Dem mit der Materie vertrauten Leser bietet dieses Buch zahlreiche neue An- und Einsichten, dem, der sich erstmals informieren will, umfassende Information in lesbarer Form. Ein lesbarer Text, detaillierte Fussnoten, reichlich gutes Abbildungsmaterial und ausfürliche Indizes zu den Personen, aber auch zu den Kunstwerken und ihren Themen machen aus diesem nützlichen Handbuch ein unverzichtbares Standartwerk.”
“Without unduly privileging Rembrandt, this study adeptly situates and contextualizes him, highlighting his peculiar contributions to the industry while also clearly distinguishing his personal, professional, and stylistic characteristics from those of his rivals. This blend of sociobiographical investigation and stylistic analysis — the two are not separated, but rather seen as interwoven in a complex, emergent, and rapidly expanding market — provides a model approach to the field.”
Rembrandt’s Rivals stands as an essential resource not only for specialists interested in Amsterdam or Dutch history painting but for anyone concerned with the conditions of artistic production in seventeenth-century Europe.”
“This volume, handsomely produced in Amsterdam by Benjamins will long remain a standard reference work, but it is equally valuable for its fresh insights to individual artists against their general civic background.”
BIC Subject: ACQ – History of art & design styles: c 1600 to c 1800
BISAC Subject: ART015090 – ART / History / Baroque & Rococo
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2015000217