Titus wrote Vosmaer (Rembrandt’s best biographer) of the art of which the great Dutchman is the chief glory. Hamerton, an accomplished etcher and an admirable writer on art, says, “Every art has its great representative master, and the representative etcher is Rembrandt. He was so constituted, and he so trained himself, as to become, in his maturity, the most consummate aquafortist who has hitherto appeared.” A far greater etcher but less trustworthy authority than Hamerton, Seymour Haden, asserts that “the history of Rembrandt is the history of the whole art of etching.”
Koehler remarks that ” Rembrandt was indeed the first artist who may truly be called modern. For not only is he a realist of the realists, but what makes him still more modern is his intense subjectivity.
What attracts us in Rembrandt is his intense humanity and the power he has of expressing it.” Charles Blanc asserts that etching “attained its full expression, its value, its color, in the seventeenth century. Rembrandt was its inventor, its poet, its Shakespeare. It was he who made of a simple method an art.” And Henri Delaborde says of Rembrandt, “he composes an eloquent and magical style with the most diverse elements, the familiar and the pompous, the vulgar and the heroic, and from this mixture results the admirable harmony of the whole.”
It was to the Salon of 1861 that Gerome contributed his picture of ” Rembrandt,” which Theophile Gautier has thus described :
“The light, falling from a high window and filtering through one of those frames covered with white paper, which engravers use to soften the glare of the copper, creeps over the table, touches the bottles filled with water or acid, diffuses itself through the chamber, and dies away in obscure corners in warm, mysterious half shadows. Rembrandt, clad in black and bending over the table, reflects the light on a plate in order to ascertain the depth of the incision. Nothing more. But here is genuine matter for a painter’s brush : light concentrated on one point and diminishing by imperceptible degrees, starting with white and ending with bitumen. This is equal in value to any literary or spirituelle fancy, and Rembrandt himself has scarcely portrayed any other, in his pictures or his etchings. The plate which he is in process of biting probably depicts a scene of this genre. The Rembrandt is a marvel of delicacy, transparency, and effect. Never has M. Gerome shown himself more of a colorist. This Pompeian, this painter a l’ encaustique, this illuminator of Greek vases, has achieved at the first essay the absolute perfection of the Dutch masters.”
Gerome (born in 1824, and the best pupil of Paul Delaroche) is widely known in America, both because of the number of his pictures owned in the United States and from the fact that he has been the honored teacher of so many of our best painters such as George de Forest Brush, Kenyon Cox, Edwin H. Blashfield, Frederick A. Bridgman, Wyatt Eaton, Abbott Thayer, and J. Alden Weir.
Few of our art-collectors lacked a Gerome among their treasures. The late A. T. Stewart had three, ” The Chariot Race,” the ” Gladiators,” and “A Collaboration W. T. Walters owned another trio, ” Diogenes,” ” Christian Martyrs,” and that little tragedy called “The Duel after the Masked Ball ; ” Mrs. Morgan possessed the “Tulip Folly ; Miss Catharine Wolfe, the “Prayer in a Mosque Old Cairo ; ” John Taylor Johnston, the “Death of Caesar;” William H. Vanderbilt, the “Sword Dance” and the “Reception of the Great Conde by Louis XIV.;” J. H. Stebbins, “Louis XIV. and Moliere ; ” John Hoey, “The Dance of the Almeh ; ” D. O. Mills, “Cleopatra before Caesar ; ” Morris K. Jesup, “Dante;” and R. L. Kennedy, ” Bonaparte in Egypt.”
The other important works of Gerome may bein part enumerated thus : “The Age of Augustus,” “King Candaules,” “Gladiators Saluting Caesar,” “Napoleon before the Sphinx,” “The Prisoner,” “Death of Marshal Ney,” and ” Golgotha.”
Many well deserved honors have been bestowed on this distinguished artist, who has also gained high renown as a sculptor.
He has lately modelled a series of equestrian figures of singular merit among them . Julius Caesar, Frederick the Great, Washing-ton, and Bonaparte.