Back to basics: Rembrandt and the emergence of modern painting

Mariët Westermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last quarter of the twentieth century, scholars expanded the canon of Dutch seventeenth-century art to include artists who were significant in their time but had little resonance beyond it. Together with historians of the market, they diversified our view of the ground in which Rembrandt and Vermeer were able to flourish. Over the past decade, scholars have returned to the most significant painters of the period, especially Rembrandt. As the Rembrandt Research Project wound down in the first decade of the twenty-first century, remaining incomplete but leaving a large legacy of knowledge and documentation about Rembrandt's working processes, other scholars asked fundamental questions about the artist's community and vision. New research on Rembrandt's approach to the female nude and on his pupil Samuel van Hoogstraten, who also wrote about painting, shows that his stubborn commitment to painting whose visual and emotional lifelikeness rendered it persuasive emerged in dialogue with European thought about art and rhetoric. The field of Netherlandish art history is a vibrant, international network of scholars and institutions, and this scholarly infrastructure appears well suited to the study of the emergence of features of painting in the Netherlands that set the medium on a path to modernity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-747
Number of pages25
JournalPerspective (France)
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010


  • Art market
  • Genre painting
  • Golden age
  • Iconography
  • Painting and society
  • Rembrandt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History


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