When I was little (10 or so), we had an art book in the house and I used to like looking through it. One picture in particular fascinated me. Little wonder something like this subject would interest a little boy : an anatomy lesson, a dead body with the top of the skull removed and the glistening pink brain on display! The artist: Rembrandt. This was my introduction to this great artist.
I met this painting in real life recently, unexpectedly on display at the National Gallery's Rembrandt: The Late Works.
Jeremy Paxman puts it well in his short video introduction to the exhibition: there is a humanity to Rembrandt's works, a way he manages to capture the real expression and inner life of his subjects, often beautifully.
I didn't always like his work, finding them a bit dark and sombre but the more I've seen, the more I now appreciate and love the work.
These pictures might sometimes show scenes from the ancient past but they're more than models dressed up. The people are gritty and real, like all of us. A great artist.
Art forger Tom Keating has a program on Rembrandt on Youtube, doing a painting in the style-of. Worth watching. It is quite amazing how much art technique a painter like Rembrandt had and how involved the production.