I’ve long admired Rembrandt’s work, both his drawings and his paintings. A recently acquired museum poster of his ‘The Abduction of Europa’ now hangs in my office inspiring me with its atmosphere, light effects and the characters in the painting. You can see an image of the original, from the J. Paul Getty Museum, here.
I also have an 1991 exhibition catalog ‘Rembrandt: the Master & his Workshop, Drawings and Etchings’ by Bevers, Schatborn and Welzel that I love. It extensively documents his drawings and those made by his pupils (whose work was once mistaken for Rembrandt’s).
Today, browsing the catalog I notice in particular #17, titled, ‘Shah Jahan and one of his sons.’ It says here, on page 124: ‘Some of the most remarkable drawings in Rembrandt’s oeuvre are the copies he made after Indian Mughal miniatures. They are not the only copies by his hand, but they do form the largest group – 23 in all. In the inventory of Rembrandt’s possessions of 1656 an album is mentioned with ‘cuireuse minijateur teeckeningen’ (curious miniature drawings) and these are usually considered to be the Mughal miniatures which Rembrandt used as models.’
How fascinating that a legendary artist whose work I deeply admire, once admired and took the effort to copy the work of unknown artists from the part of the world I come from! This is a phenomenon that I discover unexpectedly in art. A few years ago when I saw museum porcelain pieces found in a ship at the bottom of the sea that were once commissioned in Europe, made in China and lost at sea making their way to Europe, I realized that globalization is certainly not new and an attraction for what the ‘other’ has to offer is perhaps eternal.