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Prof. Van de Wetering has been associated with the Rembrandt Research Project ( the body that has cast doubt on half of Rembrandt's paintings) for 30 years.

Although one of Rembrandt's contemporaries, Houbraken, tells us that Rembrandt "would not attempt a single brush stroke without a living model before his eyes" Van de Wetering writes a chapter The Creation of the Pictorial Idea (Ch.4) without mentioning the presence of models. Indeed he is at pains to give us a picture of an artist who works directly from his head.

He goes so far as to compare Rembrandt to three landscape painters, whose work was so 'uniform' and 'routine', the professor's own words, that they were prepared to compete to paint a landscape in the studio from fantasy and routine; precisely the kind of work Rembrandt himself scoffed at saying "one must follow nature" - "anything else was worthless in his eyes"(Houbraken). It is the unanimous opinion of Rembrandt's contemporaries that he was most adamantly an artist of this persuasion, yet Van de Wetering and his colleagues insist on trying to place him in the opposite camp. On the cover of his book is the painting The Artist in his Studio which he perversely interprets as the artist " first painting in his mind before putting the brush into the paint" where the natural assumption must be that he is observing himself in a mirror to refresh his vision. At no point are we given the kind of artist whose self-portrait, though broadly painted, is so precisely observed that Prof Espinel MD can diagnose eight different maladies from it.

In my view the central core of Rembrandt scholarship today is seriously mistaken in the kind of artist they are looking for and therefore very much mistaken in many of the de-attributions and reassessments which have so tarnished Rembrandt's reputation.

In addition to the opinion of his contemporaries I have assembled very strong factual evidence that Rembrandt 'produced' tableaux vivants in his studio as a normal first step in developing his pictorial ideas. The evidence can be found in the following articles - The Burlington Magazine (Feb. '77). Rembrandthuiskroniek 1978 (vol.I ), or Arts Review Yearbook 1989. For a fuller account see the newspapers of The Save Rembrandt Society or visit

In the absence of reasoned criticism of my evidence I am obliged to assume that it is ignored because it cuts the ground from under the experts’ feet. I suggest it is time to begin again with Rembrandt scholarship, enough harm has already been done.

Nigel Konstam

A further article discussing the painting "The Night Watch", expands the theme of the necessity of the human dimension in Rembrandt criticism.