Satire on Art Criticism
Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) Dutch
Not on view
An atypical subject and approach to composition, Rembrandt's "Satire on Art Criticism" buffoons the rhetoric of his contemporary art critics. The posturing "connoisseur" at left comments on painted portraits brought before him. Rembrandt has drawn his composition from a classical subject, "The Calumny of Apelles", which he knew from a drawing by the Renaissance master Andrea Mantegna (1430/31-1506). In Mantegna's drawing the beautiful Calumny, urged on by Treachery and Deceit, drags an innocent youth who is the victim of slander before a judge bearing the ears of an ass; the judge is flanked by Ignorance and Suspicion, and Repentance and Truth linger in the background. Here Rembrandt has reduced the number of personifications and transformed them into onlookers in contemporary dress. He has substituted two painted portraits for the victim receiving judgment. The drawing remains somewhat enigmatic, since the inscriptions on the critic's platform and on the framed painting cannot be read easily, nor are they surely in Rembrandt's hand.
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.