Yes, Rembrandt's work was a huge source of inspiration for Vincent. If you were lucky to visit the exposition 'Vincent meets Rembrandt’ in the Noorderkerk in Amsterdam, or in case you missed the exposition, you may like to read what Van Gogh wrote to his brother about Rembrandt.

When did Van Gogh visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam?

In the beginning of October 1885 Van Gogh was to visit the Rijksmuseum that had opened earlier that year. On 4 October 1885 he wrote from Nuenen to Theo:

"Longing most of all for Rembrandt and Frans Hals, one day this week I’m going to the museum in Amsterdam with a friend of mine in Eindhoven whose studies I once showed you. If I can acquire connections for my own work, I won’t fail to do so — and I firmly believe that with perseverance I’ll win."

Did Van Gogh learn from Rembrandt’s technique?

In his letter from 10 October 1885 Vincent tells his brother he studied Rembrandt’s technique extensively:

"I’ve been to Amsterdam this week — I hardly had time to see anything but the museum. I was there 3 days; went Tuesday, back Thursday. Result is that I’m very glad I went, whatever the cost, and that I don’t propose going for so long again without seeing paintings. I’d already put it off and put it off, that and so much else, because of the cost. But it’s much better that I can no longer imagine that this is the thing to do. I get too much out of it — for my work, and when I look at the old paintings, which I can decipher as regards technique very differently from before — then perhaps I have precious little need for conversation anyway."

And in the same letter:

Rembrandt the magician

"Still — one can speak about the paintings by Frans Hals, he always remains — on earth. Rembrandt goes so deep into the mysterious that he says things for which there are no words in any language. It is with justice that they call Rembrandt — magician— that’s no easy occupation.”

In 1885 Van Gogh painted the now world famous “The Potato Eaters” This painting was still very dark but his style of quickly applied brushstrokes was already evident. Later in his career Van Gogh was able to finish a painting in one day.

Did Rembrandt encourage Van Gogh to work fast?

On 13 October 1885 he wrote:

"What particularly struck me when I saw the old Dutch paintings again is that they were usually painted quickly. That these great masters like Hals, Rembrandt, Ruisdael — so many others — as far as possible just put it straight down — and didn’t come back to it so very much.”

What did Van Gogh think of Rembrandt’s use of color?

Van Gogh was highly impressed by the colors of Rembrandt’s paintings like ‘The Nightwatch’ and 'The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp’. And looking closely at Van Gogh’s paintings, you can often see many shades of blue in his skies. Perhaps he remembered Rembrandt’s work in the Rijksmuseum.

On 20 October 1885:

"The fragment of Rembrandt’s anatomy lesson, yes, I was astounded by it too. Do you remember those flesh colours? It’s — OF THE EARTH, particularly the feet."

and:

"Rembrandt and Hals, didn’t they use black? And Velázquez??? Not just one, but twenty-seven blacks, I assure you.”

Which technique did Rembrandt and Van Gogh have in common?

Have you ever looked at a Van Gogh painting in a museum at short distance? Isn’t it amazing how those blobs of paint create a painting of great detail with light and depth when you take a few steps back? Doesn’t this reveal the talent of the best artists like Rembrandt and van Gogh? How is it possible to see the result while painting at arm length from the canvas? Isn’t that similar to a great composer like Mozart working on a violin solo note for note while hearing the full symphony at the same time?

On 7 November 1885 Vincent wrote:

The best paintings — precisely the most perfect from a technical point of view — seen from close to are touches of colour next to one another, and create their effect at a certain distance. Rembrandt persisted in this despite all the trouble he had to suffer as a result (the worthy citizens thought Van der Helst much better for the reason that one can also see it close to)."
What did Van Gogh think of Rembrandt’s use of color?
Rembrandt's 'The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp' with colors that inspired Van Gogh.

Was Van Gogh inspired by Rembrandt?
Our hand-painted reproduction in oil on canvas of Rembrandt's "Nightwatch".

Has Van Gogh ever copied a painting by Rembrandt?
Van Gogh's "Half Figure of an Angel after Rembrandt"

Has Van Gogh ever copied a painting by Rembrandt?

Van Gogh painted "Van Gogh Half Figure of an Angel after Rembrandt” in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in 1889, four years after he visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Theo van Gogh had sent a copy of an etching based Rembrandt's painting 'The Archangel Raphael’. Its location is unfortunately unknown. Yes, a missing angel indeed.

Buy a hand-painted reproduction of Van Gogh.. or Rembrandt.

We have specialized in replicating Van Gogh’s work, but are not afraid to learn from other masters too. Even Rembrandt’s immense 'Nightwatch’ couldn't keep us from trying. By studying Rembrandt’s technique, just like Van Gogh did, our artists prepare for a career of their own original art. And who knows, your Van Gogh, Rembrandt or any other old master reproduction may be painted by someone who is world famous one day.

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