I finished this book in two days. A short book, very focused, not just on noses, but on the spirit that stirred in the painter and those he painted. He was a genius whose work will doubtless remain on a pinnacle of human achievement as long as we appreciate painting as an art. A genius not only because of his prodigious talent, but because of his willingness to depict the fallibility, vast range, and transience of human existence.
His was not an easy life. The deaths of his first wife and two of his daughters; the rejections of others combined with his poor judgment that led to his insolvency. The rough competition from former students, the way he was betrayed and was seen as the betrayer by his first mistress and some of his most important clients.
He was able to depict whatever rose up within and without him. Lust, fear, madness, sadness, tenderness, pride, vanity, serenity, murderousness, resignation, smugness.... all those ways of showing our humanness and many more.
He was Whitmanesque in his putting on the mantle of humanity. But Whitman bragged about it: "I am this and I am that". While Rembrandt felt and saw all the nuances of what it is to be a human being, laid it out in paint and etchings, and left it for us to see for ourselves.
My thanks to Michael Taylor for his having shared his scholarship and intense interest and appreciation for Rembrandt with us.