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Though most drawings are made with lines, it is no good expecting to distinguish the quality of a drawing by looking at line alone. “Line becomes plane” said Kandinsky, put two or three lines together and they become volume. If you wish to get the best out of Rembrandt’s drawings look at the volumes and compare the body-language the volumes create with life as you experience it. This is the old masters’ creative method. My understanding of Rembrandt’s beliefs and practice is the reason why I am able to show you more of the true Rembrandt than the whole of recent scholarship. Rembrandt was drawing inspiration from actual human behaviour rather than rhetorical gesture, and recording it in his miraculous shorthand.

For most people ‘learning to draw’ means learning to draw accurately. While this is a useful skill, accuracy is not the criterion for judging drawing at a higher level. Every good artist has a way of seeing that is individual. We pattern our experience according to personal priorities, tastes and training. As an example Holbein, one of the greatest draughtsmen, patterned his experience of a head with the three dimensional geometry derived from the way Roman portrait sculptors copied their work into stone. His geometry provides a structuring of the physical world so accurate that one can make portraits in sculpture from his two dimensional originals with complete confidence. That confidence comes from his clear sense of form: the symmetrical solids with which the head is underpinned, without detracting from the realistic sense of the individual sitter. It is an abstract underpinning that simplifies and is therefore memorable and transmissible; I would argue that it has been transmitted below the level of consciousness for generations of artists.

Holbein’s method has influenced many artists. Rembrandt is a prime example (he owned 30 Roman portraits and filled two books with drawings of them). Rembrandt, like Lucas van Leyden before him, used Holbein’s solid geometry but expanded it to include space as well as solid. This control over space is the basis of his supreme command of psychological or dramatic situations; what I term his sense of ‘intimate space’. Raphael was extremely competent at creating wide perspective space and placing figures within it. We have seen in the example of his Entombment how inadequate he was when the space between the figures was close and interactive. Rembrandt’s sense of this intimate space is unerring because the interaction was observed. I doubt whether anyone can invent intimate space, it is too complicated to invent it has to be observed: Hence, the importance of recognising that Rembrandt first created the space by re-enacting the Biblical stories and then finding the optimal view point from which to observe the resulting tableau.

It is my constant complaint against the scholar theorists that they have no conception of the importance of observation in art. Their attitude is inherited from the ancient Greek philosophers. Galileo set science on its modern track centuries ago, Rembrandt did the same for art. It is high time someone did the same for art history. It has proved too much for my one life-time in spite of my numerous discoveries in different fields of art history. “Who will correct the great?” asks Villon with good reason.

Rembrandt proclaimed “he was taught by nature, anything else was worthless in his eyes” and his work exemplifies this doctrine to the maximum. Rembrandt was a great receiver of the world as it is, not an inventor or an embroiderer. By insisting on the imagined origin of his Biblical drawings the experts make the fundamental error from which many more errors spring. I list them again here to emphasise what has gone wrong.

  1. Refusing to accept the existence of live model groups in Rembrandt’s studio.
  2. A belief that style is a reliable guide to dating. This belief is so strongly held that the experts will deattribute a great drawing on the ground that the style and the date do not correspond to their theories. The scholars focus on style has been much worse than useless, it has undermined our appreciation of mankind’s most sensitive observer.
  3. Failure to recognise the reason for the obvious difference in style: Rembrandt drawing from life and Rembrandt deprived of visual reference or making do with an inadequate reflection.
  4. Failure to recognise even great Rembrandt's, their criteria are certainly not criteria that Rembrandt himself would recognise.
  5. Consequently we have suffered the re-attribution of many of his best drawings to Ferdinand Bol and other run-of-the-mill students.
  6. The high-minded discussion of the iconography of Rembrandt and his school, where most of the variations can be more simply explained by viewing the same group of models from each students’ viewpoint. By nature art historians of the present generation tend to prefer philosophical explanations; where most artists are fully occupied with more concrete concerns
  7. Rembrandt specialists compartmentalise his paintings, drawings and etchings. Rembrandt is the same bi-polar artist in all his work. To study his behaviour as a whole might have helped to avoid some major pitfalls.
  8. To expect consistency from such a man or to impose it on his work, is absurd.
  9. The art historians refuse to discuss anything which conflicts with their time-honoured but out-dated dogmas. There must be thousands of Rembrandt scholars who are obliged to read the Burlington Magazine to keep their teaching up to date. Is it possible that none of them have seen the obvious? Their behaviour over the past 40 years must call in question the possibility of revision with the present leadership. One should leave room for the enemy to compromise or retreat but the controversy has run so deep and for so long I see no possibility of either. Scientists have found much of my evidence “compels assent”. This evidence has never been satisfactorily answered by the experts in 40 years. This situation requires surrender of the establishment position right now, enough harm has been done!

It would be wise in future to make the study of practical art compulsory for at least one day per week for all art theorists. This should foster greater humility and bring them in touch with what goes on in the artist mind in practice.

When you have seen my evidence please help to bring about change by testifying to its credibility or state your reasons for not believing, on the blog.


Supporting Quotes

Prof. Sir Ernst Gombrich said at the opening of my second exhibition at Imperial College “Konstam has prepared a great feast for art historians at which he invites us to eat our own words”.
Max Wykes Joyce (The International Herald Tribune) wrote of my first exhibition at Imperial College “certainly the exhibition is a seminal one which should not be lightly dismissed”.
Prof. Bryan Cole wrote of the evidence, “some of which compels assent ….it would be a pity for scholarship not to profit from his (Konstam’s) imaginative researches” (the college magazine Icon).
Slade professor Sir Lawrence Gowing wrote of my Rembrandt researches “ Your view of the division between objective and imaginative seems to me, artistically and psychologically, much more comprehensible and satisfactory than anything before.”
The Observer headlined their illustrated article on my discovery “The Rembrandt revelation” (23 Nov.1975)


Challenging Art

We hear a great deal in the media about challenging art. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has come across such a challenge that compares in seriousness with any one of the challenges I have thrown down to art historians but no one has picked up.

This book deals exclusively with challenges to Rembrandt scholarship but there are many other challenges on my web site and in my museum:

  1. Life casting in ancient Greece
  2. Bronze casting in ancient Greece (the archaeologists’ ideas of how the Phidias caste his gigantic bronzes is at least 1000 times too small. I have discovered the remains of two gigantic chimneys in Greece).
  3. Brunelleschi’s use of polished silver on which to plot the key points of the Baptistery in order to arrive at the laws of modern perspective (Martin Kemp in The Science of Art prefers 5 alternative methods but is unable to tell us how they help.
  4. Velasquez’ use of a mirror to create his most complicated masterpiece Las Meninas at the age of 56. – a painting that is entirely untypical in that it is spatially more complex and brilliantly executed. It is thinly and very broadly painted, evidence of a very rapid technique where he is usually deliberate and slow producing thick layers of paint.
  5. Vermeer’s use of two mirrors as the mainstay of his method. He also used the camera obscura to observe light out of focus. But to see the camera obscura as the prime instrument of his painting technique (as many believe) is a mistake; the camera obscura would have been an absurd hindrance to a painter. (see 3 films on YouTube).

My museum also contains a number of lesser challenges none of which have been answered. Are we to deduce that the establishment promote only the most feeble challenges to their authority in order to mask the serious ones? This policy has produced a mythology that is a mill-stone round the neck of those who currently practice art.


Scholarship Offer

I am seriously concerned that my ground-breaking discoveries will be buried with my bones. I am therefore offering three days free tuition, board and lodging to any one or group seriously interested in carrying on this work. The premises of the Arts Centre Verrocchio will be used during the winter months for this purpose.

Apply to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. outlining your training, experience and motives. The inclusion of a drawn copy of a Holbein portrait could make you a front runner.

Next: Appendix One