Artibus et Historiae no. 54 (XXVII)2006, ISSN 0391-9064
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Buy article pdf
GIANNI CARLO SCIOLLA - Rembrandt's Visitation, formerly in Turin. A Critical Reading
The article discusses Rembrandt's painting, The Visitation, dated 1640, now preserved in the Detroit Institute of Arts, USA.
Initially The Visitation was a part of Prince Eugene of Savoy's collection which reached the royal court of Turin in 1741. During the French rule in Italy the painting was transferred to France and, even after the Restoration, it was not returned to Piedmont anymore. Later, the Rembrandt's work passed into the art trade and finally reached the Detroit Institute of Arts, at that time led by W. Valentiner, an eminent scholar of Rembrandt.
The painting is analysed in relation to the evangelical text which inspired it; then it is compared with the iconographic models of the tradition in which Rembrandt worked. The iconographic sources of the painter's inspiration were Dürer, Heemskerck, as well as Rubens. The essay focuses on various iconographic and symbolic elements which are present in the sacred scene.
The work was created near the stylistic turning-point in Rembrandt's career which is to be placed in the 1640s. Differing from the magniloquence of the contemporary Baroque paintings (culminating with The Night Watch), the little tablet is part of a series of a few paintings of religious and inspiration and landscape. It is small in size, sending forth an intense evocative sense of moving humanity; but it does not hold back from the constructive formulas deriving from the contemporary theatre. The difference is also attested to by some drawings of Visitation that Rembrandt had conceived in connection with the analysed work.
The final part of the essay deals with the problem of the destination and purchaser of the small and fine painting. As we do not have any documentation, a notion - supported by indirect hints - is proposed, that the painting was commissioned by a Catholic patron (considering the uniqueness of the treated subject), with the purpose of placing it in his small "cabinet d'amateur". This indication is strengthened by the esteem of many Catholic sources of Rembrandt's art.