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Young Rembrandt Reviews

Young Rembrandt by Onno Blom, Beverley Jackson

Young Rembrandt

A Biography

Onno Blom, Beverley Jackson

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Pushkin Press
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publication date: 7 Nov 2019
ISBN: 9781782275596

A fascinating portrait of the artist as a young man, rich in local and biographical detail, and restless in its efforts to seek out the roots of his genius.

3 stars out of 5
25 Jan 2020

"Onno Blom’s portrait is inevitably sketchy, though his background detail is meticulous"

Young Rembrandt seems to have been built upon the theory that if you describe everything around your subject, you will somehow illuminate the mysterious centre. But it doesn’t work: Rembrandt is still the dark star at the hub of the Dutch art world. The book sheds scant light on him, though a great deal on the setting in which he reached maturity. Perhaps there’s simply no accounting for genius, and the enigma that is Rembrandt — note the parallel with Shakespeare, about whom we also know very little — will persist regardless of attempts to explain it.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Michael Prodger
6 Dec 2019

"It is a book that sets itself a conundrum: “How did Rembrandt become Rembrandt?”"

Blom’s method is persuasive: he follows the painter around Leiden’s streets and over its bridges (145 of them, he says) to recreate the world that shaped him. As a result, the book is a biography of the city too. He starts with the house in which Rembrandt was born, but which was demolished in 1927. All that was salvaged was a commemorative plaque that had been put up some 20 years earlier; this though has now been re-erected in the wrong place. It is a metaphor in its way for Blom’s technique: while he can get to within inches of his man he can never be sure to have nailed him down accurately.