Masters of Art

Showing off….

Paint PalletteWhat do you think you would do if you suddenly had loads of money?  Well, if you were living in the 17th century, you might have decided to spend it on art, and on paintings to be more specific.  It’s is exactly what the Dutch did and it’s logical really. Photography had not yet been invented, but these merchants wanted to show off their wealth, their families and well, themselves, of course!  And paintings were the answer, the bigger the better. It was a great time to be a painter, and several Dutch artists became some of the world’s most famous painters ever. Here are the three most famous… 🙂

Did you know that…

Most painters never made any money in their life time.  Today Rembrandt and Vermeer are seen as some of the best painters that ever lived and their paintings are worth millions of pounds.  During his life, though, Rembrandt was declared bankrupt and both he and Vermeer died in total poverty with not a penny to their soul.

Rembrandt van Rijn

Born in 1606 in Leiden, Rembrandt became famous for his portraits and etchings.  One of his best known paintings is called ‘the Nachtwacht’ (the Nightwatch), in which he painted 18 militiamen, who were supposed to defend the city at night.  The painting measures roughly 3.5 meters x 4.5 meters, which is massive – big enough to cover the whole wall in a very large living room.

Nachtwacht.jpgChop Chop

Originally ‘the Nachtwacht’ was even larger – in fact, it was  So what happened?  Well, in 1715 the painting had to be moved to a new home.  The problem was that nobody had bothered to measure up the new wall, and when they got the painting to its new location, it didn’t fit. Bit tricky perhaps, but they didn’t waste much time and just chopped off the sides to make it fit.  It’s hard to believe, I know, especially when you realise that today the Nachtwacht is possibly the most expensive painting in the world.

Love Letter by VermeerJohannes Vermeer

Another fantastic painter at the time was Johannes Vermeer, who was born in Delft in 1632.  His painting technique was very different from that of Rembrandt.  Where Rembrandt is the master of dark and light, Vermeer’s work is very colourful.  When you look at his paintings, everything seems real and alive.  Velvet looks like you can touch it, milk pouring out of a jug looks like you could just drink it.  Vermeer also used a special technique that makes you feel as though you are spying. Look at this picture and you’ll see what I mean. The curtain over the door is drawn to one side so that you can take a peek into the room.

Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh

Poor as a church mouse, Vincent became very depressed and famously cut off the lower part of his left ear. He wrapped it up in a parcel and sent it to a woman he knew well, together with a note asking her to take good care of it. You have to admit, it’s a bit strange. He then had himself admitted to a mental asylum. Sadly, his depression got worse and in 1890 he walked into a field and shot himself in the chest with a revolver. Although he was badly wounded, he managed to stagger home, where he died two days later. And the really sad part is, that he is now one of the world’s best loved painters ever, and each of his paintings is worth a very large fortune….