Fashion and Fancy: Dress and Meaning in Rembrandt's Paintings

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Amsterdam University Press, 2006 - Art - 398 pages
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Until now dress has played only a subordinate role in the research of Rembrandt’s paintings, despite the fact that few artists are as intensively studied as this Dutch master. The lacuna is all the more surprising since Rembrandt obviously delighted in rendering clothes, which, for him, not only communicated the character and social status of his sitters but also clarified his narratives and heightened the drama in his historical pieces. Here, Marieke de Winkel offers a fascinating and much-needed study of dress and costume in the works of Rembrandt.

De Winkel shows us how focusing on apparel opens a new line of inquiry into Rembrandt’s paintings, one which is symbolically and iconographically richer than previously imagined. This approach, which has not been fully acknowledged by art historians nor developed by dress historians, deepens our understanding of Rembrandt’s expression as well as the cultural and historical context of the Dutch seventeenth century. De Winkel proves the merits of the approach here with her close readings of Rembrandt’s paintings and the contemporaneous connotations of the clothes he depicted. She demonstrates convincingly that clothes do much more than help date the paintings; they are instead integral to the program of representation.

No longer ancillary to art history, dress and costume here receive their full due in this study, leaving us with not only a better understanding of Rembrandt but of his wider world as well.

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Page 105 - A SWEET disorder in the dresse * Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse : A lawne about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction : An erring lace, which here and there Enthralls the crimson stomacher : A cuffe neglectfull, and thereby Ribbands to flow confusedly : A winning wave (deserving note) In the tempestuous petticote : A carelesse shooe-string, in whose tye I see a wilde civility : Doe more bewitch me, then when art Is too precise in every part.
Page 216 - ... shows the true garbe of the Queen in those days, just as we see Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth painted; but the play is merely a puppet play, acted by living puppets. Neither the design nor language better; and one stands by and tells us the meaning of things: only...
Page 98 - ... them. But it were a more shamefull matter unto us to publishe it, then unto the Frenchmen the ignoraunce in letters. Therfore it is better to passe that over with silence that cannot be rehersed without sorow, and leaving this purpose into the which I am entred against my will, retourne againe unto oure Courtier, whom in letters I will have to bee more then indyfferentlye well scene, at the leaste in those studyes, which they call Humanitie, and to have not only the under- The Courtier standinge...
Page 278 - Though art's hid causes are not found, All is not sweet, all is not sound. Give me a looke, give me a face. That makes simplicitie a grace ; Robes loosely flowing, haire as free : Such sweet neglect more taketh me. Than all th' adulteries of art, That strike mine eyes, but not my heart.
Page 279 - And this was one to get her up to London; nothing else, I assure thee. Busy. Well, the man, in my mind, is a fine man.
Page 339 - Tryumphant Passage (from the Tower) through his Honourable Citie (and Chamber) of London, being the 15 of March, 1603.
Page 304 - ... covering her eyes. Having told you that her name was Justice, I hope you will not put me to describe what properties ' she held in her hands, sithence - every painted cloth 3 can inform you.
Page 301 - Pinas, hangende, neffens meer kunstige stucken van Peter Lastman, ten huise van den hooghgeleerden en ervaren Dokter Robbert Verhoeven ; daer de bloedige rock den Vader vertoont wort: gelijck wy in 't sluiten van dit werck, ten naesten by, met woorden des schilders verwen, teickeningen, en hartstoghten, pooghden na te volgen.
Page 99 - Vawtiug. prayse, which for all it is peynefull and harde, maketh a man more light and quicker then any of the rest : and beside the profite, yf that lightnesse be accompanyed with a good grace, it maketh (in my judgemente) a better showe then anye of the reste.
Page 305 - God knows when they will begin to act again ; but my business here was to see the inside of the stage and all the tiring-rooms and machines ; and, indeed, it was a sight worthy seeing. But to see their clothes, and the various sorts, and what a mixture of things there was ; here a...

About the author (2006)

Marieke de Winkel is affiliated with the Rembrandt Research Project in Amsterdam.

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