Rumour has it that during the 1999 NATO bombings of Belgrade, the presidential palace was not targeted because the first floor contained a Rembrandt. If you want to be able to talk art with American soldiers, read on.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn lived from 1606-1669, and is seen as one of the great painters in European art history. Some of his most famous paintings are ‘The Night Watch’ and ‘The Jewish Bride’. He also made a great number of etchings and self-portraits, showing himself looking increasingly grim. Unlike some other artists, Rembrandt had great commercial success during his life. But his fortune could not ward off tragedy; he survived his first wife and their four children, and got into a messy situation with two besotted housekeepers which ended in a court case. On top of that, he always had money problems because of his taste for art and antiquities: the Flemish Renaissance’s ultimate rock’n’roll lifestyle.
When chatting about Rembrandt, be sure to mention his variety in subjects, and his insight in the world around him. Gush that you find it amazing how he could capture the spirit of man. But in case the soldiers want something more scandalous, whisper that he had a penchant for role-play: he liked to dress himself and his wife up as biblical or historical figures for paintings.
D. J Pardijs