Westermann/Blakely Reflection 2

Westermann uses Rembrandt’s self-portraiture as a jumping off point to show how a reflection of the artist is in every work of art they create regardless of subject. This is particularly true of Rembrandt as you see his style shift in his later years as a reflection of age, financial hardship, and steadfast dedication to his idea of painting. The print of “The Hundred Guilder” is interesting because for Westermann it shows Rembrandt’s unidealized figures as a signature of his individuality. His clear linear style combined with his intense use of shadow and light, often found in his works more than other Dutch artists, can help the viewer see that this is a work of Rembrandt. To Westermann the individuality and identity of a painter is just as important and prominent as the painting itself.

Blakely would see this scene differently. Firstly, I had to get the full image because Westermann only uses a detail in order to emphasize her point. Through only showing a portion of this print, we miss key racial identities that Blakely would be sure to analyze. There seems to be a African depiction among the crowd, in the bottom right, who is almost entirely shadow. This depiction of other races piqued my interest in what Blakely’s interpretation would be. Scholar Charles Rosenburg addresses this figure saying “An Ethiopian wearing a dangling earring and what appears to be a bandage over one eye stands in the shadows at the right of the procession of suffering believers, his head tilted up toward Jesus’s face. This striking Moorish figure may serve to represent the universal reach of Christ’s healing message, but he is also an example of Rembrandt’s fascination with the exotic.” Rembrandt is known for his fascination with the East and Africa through his art, so this to Blakely really go either as a negative depiction of black characters in religious scenes, such as that were increasingly common during the 16th and 17th centuries, or positive lie Rosenburg’s interpretation, or just historical accuracy.


ROSENBERG, CHARLES M. “Hundred Guilder Print.” In Rembrandt’s Religious Prints: The Feddersen Collection at the Snite Museum of Art, 282-91. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2017. Accessed July 24, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv3hvc83.38.

Blakely, Blacks in the Dutch World, ch. 3, “Art as History” (78-170).

Westermann, A Worldly Art, ch. 6: “Artistic Authority,” 157-181.


2 thoughts on “Westermann/Blakely Reflection 2

  1. Nice sleuthing to bring in Blakely’s POV to this Rembrandt. In fact, there is an exhibit right now at the Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam on Africans in Rembrandt’s (and others’) art. Maybe bring this up with Jennifer Tosch to see if she’s seen it yet.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s