The Art of Human Comedy. Charles Blanc, Populariser of Rembrandt in Nineteenth–Century France

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Abstract

Charles Blanc (1813–82) was a lifelong admirer and scholar of the prints of Rembrandt, despite the classical artistic doctrines he promoted in what is regarded as his best-known book, the grammaire des arts du dessin (1867). This article investigates the undervalued contribution of Blanc to the popularization of and scholarship on Rembrandt in France in the nineteenth century. It will do so on the basis of the main publications he devoted to the artist: the monograph in the 'Histoire des peintres de toutes les écoles' (1861–76, 1883–84) and the 'Œuvre de Rembrandt' (1853–58, 1859–61, 1873, 1880), which, as the dates suggest, both went through extensive publication histories. Three main points of view are discussed: 1) the impact of new archival research by the Dutch archivist Pieter Scheltema and others on Rembrandt’s image, 2) the development of and rivalry over social-political ideas between Blanc and Théophile Thoré-Bürger, and 3) the use of various traditional and innovative image technologies which were adopted to illustrate Rembrandt’s work in Blanc’s publications, namely woodcut, etching, photography and photogravure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalNouvelles de l'Estampe
Volume2019
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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