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Rembrandt or not? Figure it out at the Getty

November 28, 2009 |  9:00 am

Rembrandt drawing Which one is the Rembrandt?

That’s the question at “Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils: Telling the Difference.” Opening Dec. 8 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, the exhibition will pair the 17th century Dutch master’s works with drawings of the same or similar subjects by 15 other artists -- and point out ways to tell them apart.

The goal, says Lee Hendrix, the Getty’s senior curator of drawings who organized the show with an international team of colleagues, is to condense 30 years of scholarship into an illuminating exhibition. “We are demystifying the process, saying this is the way it was done and you can do it too,” he said.

Take two pen and brown ink drawings called “Christ as a Gardener Appearing to Mary Magdalene,” one by Rembrandt (right), the other by Ferdinand Bol (below). Both works, based on the story of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the recently risen Christ, were once thought to be by Rembrandt.

Bol drawing “But the treatments are very different,” Hendrix says. “Rembrandt makes Christ look magisterial. He lifts a finger and says, ‘Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my father’ and Mary collapses in emotion. In Bol’s drawing, Christ is very nonchalant and speaks to her rather casually. Another thing to look at is the background. Rembrandt’s pen barely touches the sheet as he creates the architecture of Jerusalem in the distance. Bol uses dark lines, making it come forward instead of receding.”

To read the full story in Sunday’s Arts & Books section, click here.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

Photos: “Christ as a Gardener Appearing to Mary Magdalene” by Rembrandt and Ferdinand Bol. Credit: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam