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Rembrandt's Eyes

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,574 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
The great 17th-century Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn left us so many arresting self-portraits, painted at every stage in his eventful life, that his distinctive face and bearing are a familiar part of the 20th-century cultural landscape, a recognizable presence in galleries across Europe and North America. Nonetheless, the artist himself remains an enigma. Rembrandt was ...more
Hardcover, 768 pages
Published November 16th 1999 by Knopf (first published January 1st 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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M. D.  Hudson

I hate Simon Schama’s prose. Hate it. He is a shameless, heedless over-writer of the self-regarding not-as-funny-as-he-thinks kind. If two adjectives will work, six will work even better. Here is Amsterdam as rendered by Schama:

By the time Pieter Segerszoon had gone to his Maker in 1603, there were twice the number of folk in the city and all manner of voices could be head on the Dam: eastern accents, thick and yawning, from Gelderland and Overijssel; German gutturals; the soft glottals of Wallo
Feb 24, 2016 Merilee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5+ stars. Probably the best book I read all year and the 700 huge pages only took me 8 months…Schama is brilliant on the history as well as the art criticism. Beautiful prints, too.
Nov 14, 2010 Marit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful meticulously written biography on the works and life of Rembrandt. Every chapter branches off into new stories about the historic happenings and beliefs of the 17th century time which give you a very solid understanding of the world and human life at that time. A little long-winded but highly informative. Simon Schama teaches you how to properly look at Rembrandt's paintings.
Aug 30, 2010 Monique rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
During one of my painting classes, I was assigned to do a master copy of one of Rembrandt's many self portraits. He was a 17th century artist who painted more self portraits than any other painter of his time. of course I needed to know as much about the man as well as the artist from whom I was to attempt to copy. I learned a lot about his life as well as the history of his influences and techniques. His life was marred by sorrow, as so many influential figures in history were. It didn't seem t ...more
May 04, 2015 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in conjunction with a Rembrandt exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. Simon Schama is able to provide the context of the times that Rembrandt lived and as a result this life comes alive with the life and art of this artistic genius. The details about the development of Rembrandt as and artist and businessman are illuminating, but there is also the story of the rising middle class, the customers, who filled the walls of their homes with paintings from Rembrandt and his contemporari ...more
Jul 24, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you have not yet discovered Simon Schama, then you are in for a real treat. This book reads as smooth as historical fiction, but has all the footnotes to prove it is so much more than that. Schama is a historian that understands the soul of Rembrandt. If an advid art enthusiast, or new to the subject, you will love this book. Schama examines Rembrandt through the Ruben's perspective and explains how important Rubens was for not only Rembrandt, but every other artist of that time period. There ...more
May 14, 2009 Christan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you can wade through this incredibly detailed and meaty book, you will acquire an indigestion of insight, and will no doubt be the smartest kid at the party of all things Rembrandt.
Jul 30, 2008 Donald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography of Rembrandt and his times with great reproductions.

Well written and entertaining as well as informative.
Stellannette Starcke
Sweeping & engrossing.
Apr 12, 2013 Jemma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite the comprehensive work on Rembrandt, as you would expect from Schama. To tell the story of Rembrandt and his paintings, you get their story but intermingled with discources on painterly techniques. More than this though, you get the context with enough on Rubens to provide a separate biography of him. Schama understands, as he always has, that sometimes you need to step back to view the whole picture. Something I suspect Rubens and Rembrandt would agree on. Thus you even learn about Reuben ...more
Jan 12, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to this book (and Simon Schama) via the "Acknowledgements" section of Zadie Smith's "On Beauty". Initially put away in favor of other things, a planned trip to Holland compelled me to break it out for another try.

It's undoubtedly a great book, but a bit of a daunting challenge due to not only the length, but the larger-than-average gravitational burden. The thick, glossy pages of paintings are beautiful and they complement Schama's text well, but damn if this book isn't impossible to tran
Mar 25, 2011 Tarotemp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a longtime fan of author/historian/art critic Simon Schama from his History of Britain and Power of Art series respectively, I had no doubt that Schama would score big with Rembrandt's Eyes. The author captures perfectly the "up-and-coming on the economic world stage, hustle-bustle" feel of early seventeenth century Amsterdam and one of its greatest exports: Rembrandt van Rijn.

If you are familiar with Schama's narrative style, you'll know he is nothing at all like the typical stuffy, tweed c
Peter Sidell
Jan 03, 2016 Peter Sidell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book doesn't follow the usual narrative arc in its presentation of Rembrandt. While it does present his life story from birth to old age the reader isn't left feeling a close acquaintance. The feeling is at once more remote and more intimate. The reader is introduced to Rembrandt's way of seeing and how it developed, and left with the realization that the hope of seeing through Rembrandt s eyes is only an aspiration. Still the richness of detail makes the book a memorable experience.
Warren Hastings
Aug 31, 2010 Warren Hastings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a struggle sometimes when you read a review filled with enthusiasm and excited encouragement to read the book being described. The five stars I've given is a clue that this is one of those danger moments for the more sensitive reader.

Mr.Schama is a favourite human, Rembrandt is a miraculous artist and this book is a physics-busting combination of perfect plus perfect equalling more than perfect. It's a beautiful, inspiring and fascinating masterpiece that transports you into Rembrandt's wo
Jan 02, 2015 F.j.commelin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
Simon Schama is a great writer.
He takes us into Rembrandt's studio in an engaging language.
As an artist who's studying Rembrandt for quiet a time now this one is a great book.
Jun 21, 2011 Gabriela rated it it was amazing
A book superbly written by a specialist, Simon Schama, in both history and art. A book for those who love the 17th century in European history and artistic development. Easy to read, as the author has a most fluent style in narration, full of information on mainly Rubens and Rembrandt, but also on the many others who made that era a garden of blooming Flemish and Dutch art among the many wars, plagues and religious controversies. It is NOT a summer vacation book! It is a book for those intereste ...more
Mar 09, 2016 Mimi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing book, very well written covering paintings by Rembrandt and Rubens and a lot of the political and religious situation at the time in the Netherlands. It is a long book, but because the writing is so good was easy to read. Maybe a 4.6
Nov 18, 2012 Marks54 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a detailed biography of Rembrandt, by one of the top European cultural historians around. The story is rich and I have felt under read on 17th century Holland. What made this book special for me was its high production value and its collection of illustrations of much of Rembrandt's most notable paintings. In my limited experience, art books have been "coffee table" volumes that are most valuable to page through rather than read. This is an exception that combines a high quality biograph ...more
Jan 16, 2016 Marina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's an excellent book for those, who like art and it's history.
Chris Gager
Nov 05, 2011 Chris Gager rated it really liked it
I'll admit to skimming through some of the historical scene-setting details but I loved reading about the greatest painter ever. Seeing a reproduction of "The Oathswearing of Claudius Civilis" for the first time was a real treat too. I he were alive today Rembrandt Harmentzsoon van Rijn might be our greatest graphic artist. I was in DC recently and went to the National Gallery(along with thousands of other people-it was Memorial weekend Saturday). Just blown away by the portraits in the Rembrand ...more
Jul 17, 2009 Elh52 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great book by Mr. Schama; a wonderfully written bio of Rembrandt in what I take to be Mr. Schama's favorite era - Holland in the seventeenth century - complete with no-expense-spared, full-color art reproductions. I read the hardback. If there's a soft cover out, you might want to try that. The hardback is the size of a small coffee table; reading it in bed sprained both my wrists and almost crushed my chest.
Jan 10, 2009 LuAnn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not only about Rembrandt, but others artists (Ruebens is the main subject of the first 200 pages), economy, religion, politics, even gossip...all in the 1600's...the Gold Age of the Netherlands. The book is dense with information, lots of trivia. I found it very interesting.
Nov 09, 2011 Stash rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I did not have the time to read this overly dense, overly obfuscatory text. I needed a more straightforward read that did not require me to sit down with a 20 lbs book that I couldn't even hold up while I read in bed.
Sep 07, 2009 Gabriel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall very good, but I could have done without some of the excessively long anecdotes only tangentially related to Rembrandt and his works. Also, I was pleasently surprised by and enjoyed the Rubens biography.
Apr 13, 2008 Becki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not read this cover to cover, but I own this book so I am sure I will go back again in the future, I love the art of Rembrandt's art and especially his focus an medicine and anatomy.
Sean O'Brien
Jun 01, 2014 Sean O'Brien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Monumental. A vivid history of sixteenth century Netherlands gives the context by which the artist subverted contemporary forms.
Karen Tannenbaum
Mar 20, 2010 Karen Tannenbaum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best book of Rembrandt I have read. Not an easy read at all but profound and his love/hate relationship with Peter Paul Reubens.
Feb 24, 2009 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is taking much longer than I anticipated. Simon's wacky sense of humor doesn't come through in the text.
Juan Ignacio
Dec 16, 2010 Juan Ignacio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best Rembrandt "art/history" boom, I have ever raed. Amazing and delicious.
Nov 11, 2010 Parismaddy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll follow Simon Schama anywhere his writing takes me.
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Imprinted Lives: ...: Rembrandt, Rubens, 17th-c Netherlands painters 1 11 Apr 22, 2013 09:45AM  
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Simon Schama was born in 1945. The son of a textile merchant with Lithuanian and Turkish grandparents, he spent his early years in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. When his parents moved to London he won a scholarship to Haberdashers’ Aske’s School where his two great loves were English and History. Forced to choose between the two he opted to read history at Christ’s College, Cambridge. Here he was taught ...more
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