July 19 marked the birthday of one special man we cherish on this website, Edgar Degas. Just 177 years ago, the painter Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas entered this world in Paris, France. Known for his sardonic wit and antisocial tendencies, we’re sure he would have loved to know that his birthday is also the American National Raspberry Cake Day and the American National Caviar Day (industry scions obviously missed the clash). In the history of the world other significant events have also occurred on Mr Degas’s birth: the Rosetta Stone was found in 1799, while allied forces started to bomb Rome in 1943. Leaving behind this historical detour, we’d now like to draw your attention to a special Degas-Rembrandt exhibition starting October 23, 2011.
Anyone lucky to find themselves in Holland at the end of October this year should make their way to Rembrandt van Rijn’s Rijksmuseum. The museum will host the “Two Young Artists” exhibition, featuring more than 20 self-portraits from Degas and Rembrandt in the early part of their careers. Through viewing the portraits side-by-side, exhibition curators hope to illuminate the links between the two artists, which are not immediately obvious. Rembrandt was the 17th-century Dutch painter associated with the Baroque and Dutch Golden Age movements; his works were sombre and dark landscapes and portraits. Degas, on the other hand, was the French Impressionist (though he insisted a realist), internationally renowned for his soft, pastel-hued scenes from dance and ballet. Degas, however, would find inspiration from Rembrandt when painting his self portraits. The artist discovered Rembrandt’s oil paintings and etchings of himself while studying art in Rome. Historians believe Rembrandt’s direct influence can be seen in Degas’ poses and his use of light and shade. Thus the side-by-side comparison of their early works.
Why would you travel to Amsterdam to see a couple of dozen oil paintings that you could find on the internet? That’s a good question, Sherlock. The answer is that the exhibition will feature a couple of oil paintings never shown before (and unlikely to be photographed and put online). One is a Degas self-portrait from a private collection that has never been displayed publicly, while another is a rarely loaned Rembrandt self-portrait from the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. Other Degas works will also be specially flown in from all collections over the world, including the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and The National Gallery in Washington.
You could hold your own comparative exhibition of Degas and Rembrandt oil paintings in your home, at a fraction of the cost of travelling to Amsterdam (assuming you don’t live in Amsterdam, of course). Our collection of Degas paintings feature several self-portraits, as does our collection of Rembrandt oil paintings. You won’t be disappointed!