Half Figure of an Angel, after Rembrandt – 1889



Half Figure of an Angel, after Rembrandt (September, 1889 in Saint-Remy)
Painted at the age of 36
Method: Oil on Canvas
Size: 54cm x 64cm (21.3in x 25.2in)
Location: Unknown
“This is how Rembrandt painted angel (or God – differs in definition per translated work). He does a self-portrait, old, toothless, wrinkled, wearing a cotton cap, a picture from life, in a mirror. He is dreaming, dreaming, and his brush takes up his self-portrait again, but this time from memory, and the expression on the face becomes sadder and more saddening, He dreams, dreams on, and why or how I cannot tell, but – as Socrates and Mohammed had their guardian spirits, so Rembrandt paints a supernatural angel with a da Vinci smile behind that old man who resembles himself.
I am showing you a painter who dreams and paints from the imagination, and I started by contending that it is characteristic of the Dutch that they do not invent anything, that they have neither imagination nor fantasy.
Am I being illogical? No.
Rembrandt did not invent anything, and that angel and that strange Christ came about because he knew them, felt that they were there.” (From #vvg to Emile Bernard, 23rd July, 1888, Arles)
“One may laugh [saying]: “painting angels! Who has ever seen angels?” But to that I should like to add, “Justice in the harem, who has ever seen justice in the harem?” And Benjamin Constant’s painting, “Bullfights, who has ever seen those?” And so many other Moorish and Spanish things, cardinals, and then all those historical paintings they keep on doing yards high and yards wide! What is the use of it all and what are they doing it for? Within a few years most of it looks dull and dreary and more and more boring. But still, perhaps they are well painted, they could be that.” (From #vvg to #tvg, July 1885, Nuenen)

I remember reading in one of the letter by Vincent van Gogh saying something similar to this: “If one should like to know the existence of God and how he looks like, he should study Rembrandt. Then he would understand that there is indeed God within us.”


Updates are rarely the luxury I can offer at this moment; since, the book is planned to be published at the end of this month… living with Vincent van Gogh in my head, in my dreams, in my book is a madness….. one which I do not recommend to anyone but recommend reading it (?) 😉



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