Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait,Vincent Van Gogh, Self-Portrait


It is generally accepted that Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh are two of the most famous Dutch artists, who, despite living in different periods, have become nearly the most influential, and whose ideas became intensely tipping and outbreaking. Due to this fact, current paper compares and contrasts two world-known self-portraits: the one of Rembrandt van Rijn, 1660 and the one of Vincent van Gogh, 1887 in order to find similarities and differences in the works of art. Therefore, it covers general characteristics of the abovementioned paintings, analyses their composition and color, and compares their main features in terms of influencing art movements. Moreover, the paper seeks either to support or refute the statement that despite some evident differences between these artworks in color and historical past, these works have much in common in terms of influencing art and society.

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General Characteristics of Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait, 1660

Rembrandt van Rijn, one of the most famous Dutch artists of the Baroque style, is now well-known for his paintings of self-portraits. In fact, his self-portraits are now distinguished by their expressive sensitivity and capturing a sense of individual spirit. Through his skillful handling of shadow, light, and texture, he was able to elicit immediacy and the unprecedented emotional depth. The Self-Portrait, 1660 (Figure 1) was painted by Rembrandt in his late years when he was 54 . It has been noted as an artwork, which depicts the worried expression of the artists troubled mind condition. As a matter of fact, the year the artwork was painted was a time of Rembrandts extreme anxiety and depression. At that moment, he was declared bankrupt and most of his friends and pupils deserted him. He lost his studio and he had almost no inspiration to continue painting his works. When looking at this artwork, one sees maturity and sadness in his eyes. The slight lift of his eyebrows and wrinkles on his forehead demonstrate the whimsical impatience, but the sparks in his eyes show that he still has not lost his hope and does not want to be defeated. His mouth is drawn and the large application of paint demonstrates that he is aging. His clothes also do not seem new: the brown jacket seems to be worn-out and old, which highlights his financial difficulties. The work is painted in dark colors and seems to be very truthful but whimsical, which are the general characteristics of Baroque . Other distinguished feature of the man in the portrait is his hat, which he wears jauntily and bravely. This corresponds to the artists eternal courage and resistance to evil. Thus, this work gives one an idea of Rembrandt not only as a painter, but also as a man .

General Characteristics of Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, 1887

Vincent van Gogh considered himself an Impressionist, but most of the western scholars nowadays consider him a representative of the post-impressionism era. In his early works, he was immensely inspired by the Baroque style artists, especially by Rembrandt. As a matter of fact, Vincent van Gogh considered him one of the most talented painters in the European art history, and Dutch history in particular. Therefore, one cannot but notice Rembrandts influence in the works of van Gogh. Not only were van Gogh and Rembrandt of the same national identity, but also of the same art preference producing self-portraits. Van Goghs Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat was created in 1887. The distinctive feature of most of his paintings and this painting in particular is the unique brushstroke pattern and a very textual and thick media of paint . Van Gogh used texture and curling rhythms of brushstroke to give a sense of movement to his pictures, which was also a sense of nervousness and agitation. This sense of depression and nervousness is due to life van Gogh had and the problems he experienced. Thus, his painting style comes from the life he lived, which was agitated and poor. His Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat can also reveal the crumbling health of the artist. The deep shadows, three-quarter profile, and tight mouth can tell that the man is suffering emotional and physical imbalance. A miserable and haunted gaze from his eyes both pushes people away and begs for help. As far as his clothes are concerned, Van Gogh is dressed in a work coat and a yellow straw hat, which gives people the image of a working mans artist . His blue shirt contrasts with his yellow hat, which also proves his delight in color and its combination. The panting demonstrates his truthful appearance without any exaggeration.

Differences and Similarities of the Two Works

At first sight, one can notice that these artworks have many differences. On the one hand, the first difference is in their color: while Rembrandts Self-Portrait is full of dark colors and has gothic composition, van Goghs Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat is full of light and bright colors. Moreover, there is a significant difference in technique of these works. The thick consistent of paint of van Gogh is different from light watery paint of Rembrandt. These differences can be explained by the difference in the time periods when works were produced. The color of background in the Rembrandts painting almost blends with the color of clothing, while van Gogh contrasts the color of hat and shirt with the background. In Rembrandts work, one can see the grey-haired and wrinkled man, while in van Goghs work the man who is on the picture is young. Moreover, the negative mood of both pictures is highlighted differently. In the first work, the background suits the facial expression of man and complements the image of old and tired man. In the second work, the background and clothes contrast with the mans facial expression and his image.

On the other hand, while looking beyond the image, one can see the similar idea of both works. The main similarity is truthfulness in depiction of men. Both of the artists had nothing to hide and the only thing they wanted to share is truth of their artworks. Both of the men are depressed and disappointed, but both of them are still not ready to give up. They both are wearing hats symbols of their courage. It seems that both of them are in despair deep inside and seem extremely unhappy. Moreover, both of the artists pay a lot of attention to color. Rembrandt and van Gogh have also the similar influence on audience, provoking the same feelings. Both of the artists are rebellious, and they seem not to follow the rules of society. Both of these works are the images of the working men artists, who do not have much in their pockets, but have much to say to other people and society. Therefore, one may say that these paintings have much in common in terms of influencing art and society and in terms of the main ideas of their works, despite some crucial and evident differences in color and historical past.

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Having covered general characteristics of the Rembrandt van Rijns Self-Portrait, 1660 and Vincent van Goghs Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, 1887, having analyzed their composition and color, and having compared their main features in terms of influencing art movements, it is possible to make the conclusion that, in spite of some evident differences between these artworks in historical past and color, these works have much in common in terms of influencing art and society and in terms of the main ideas of their works, which are the idea of the working men artists who are not acknowledged and praised, but are persistent in their work and do not lose hope.


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