Virtual Cinema | The Gripping and Dramatic Documentary “My Rembrandt” January 22, 2021
Director Oeke Hoogendijk’s documentary My Rembrandt presents an insightful journey into the nature of portraiture. The ostensible sitter of the portrait that Hoogendijk paints is the prolific master of 17th-century Dutch painting, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669). Viewers are invited to marvel at his many masterpieces, all of them portraits of wealthy patrons who bent over backward to secure a work from the great artist. Yet, the most vivid portraits that emerge are the living protagonists that own, or desire to own, a portrait executed by the Dutch dynamo.
Wealth and Wonder
Common attributes that unite the film’s cast of protagonists are wealth, connoisseurship, and a fervent devotion to the preeminence of Rembrandt’s talent as a portraitist. The documentary begins in the waking hours before dawn. The Duke of Buccleuch, who is the largest private landowner in Scotland, sits entranced within one of his well-appointed rooms. He gazes upon An Old Woman Reading (1655) with concentration and wonder. Longing, intimacy, and Rembrandt’s ability to still entrance his viewers are themes that run throughout the story.
Intrigue and Scandal
With great art also comes intrigue and scandal as reputations hang in the balance. One of the most complex portraits examined is that of Jan Six, a dashing young art dealer who seeks to establish himself in the Rembrandt art market. Controversy ensues, challenging viewers to discern his true character.
Portraits and Promise
My Rembrandt offers more than a lesson in art appreciation. It opens an entrance into a world where the captivating power of a great master still holds sway across the globe. Searching the faces of Rembrandt’s portraits enables audiences to see themselves more clearly. Gaze intently. Each Rembrandt holds the promise of becoming Your Rembrandt.
About the Author
James Anno is the associate curator of European art at the MFAH.
Underwriting for the Film Department is provided by Tenaris and the Vaughn Foundation. Generous funding is provided by Nina and Michael Zilkha; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Lois Chiles Foundation; ILEX Foundation; L’Alliance Française de Houston; and The Foundation for Independent Media Arts.
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