Introduction and Welcome

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rembrandt van Rijn - The Mennonite Minister Cornelis Claesz and his Wife; Edvard Grieg - Piano Concerto in A minor; Alfred Lord Tennyson - The Eagle

Notice in this double portrait of the Mennonite Minister Cornelis Claesz and his wife how Rembrandt van Rijn captures the personality of each subject so well - the animated minister and his listening wife. Neither is looking directly at us, He looks active and outgoing and she looks more passive and relaxed, pondering the holy books he is referring to.  He is pointing to them and she is looking at them giving them importance in the painting.  Even though the books are lighted up and painted in careful detail it is the faces that draw our eye.  Notice again in this painting the qualities of light and dark. Rembrandt masterfully used the technique called "chiaroscuro" an Italian term for the use of light and dark contrast to build up volume showing things to have depth by their shading.   I also noticed that the minister and his books are in a golden light but his wife is in a more white light.  I'm not sure why this would be and yet their clothing is colored and shaded in very similar tones unifying the two.  

Portrait of Jan Rijcksen and his wife, Griet Jans ('The shipbuilder and his wife')It is a complicated assignment to paint more than one person into a portrait.  It is a challenge to connect the two and make each look convincing.  Rembrandt was remarkably good at this.  Here is a second of Rembrandt's double portraits.  This time of Jan Rijcksen and his wife, Griet Jans.  This painting is called The Shipbuilder and His Wife.

Notice how he manages to portray both personality as well as action.  The "movement in the portrait is diagonal from the shipbuilders paper and hand up across to her hand on the door handle.  Diagonal lines in paintings carry the most energy.  Yet neither person looks agitated and there is a calm demeanor to both of them.  They are very connected in this picture, both physically as they overlap and also the connection of him reaching for her note as she hands it to him.

Edvard Grieg is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor.  You can listen to it on either of the following links:
Edvard Grieg - Piano Concerto in A minor 1
Edvard Grieg - Piano Concerto in A minor 2

Introducing a new poet today, Alfred Lord Tennyson, I'd like to give several possibilities for researching about this poet.  The first is a link to a copy of an article in the Parents' Review that I found on Ambleside Online's site.  Parents' Review Article on Tennyson
Or this link has a brief biographical sketch:
Ambleside Online's page for Alfred Lord Tennyson including poems:  Ambleside Online - Tennyson
Or of course Wikipedia:  Wikipedia - Lord Alfred Tennyson

We'll start with one of my favorite poems by him, The Eagle which is a wonderful poem to memorize - full of imagery and rich words yet so concise.

The Eagle

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

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