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Gelder, Arent de
The Artist’s Studio
around 1710-1715

An artist sits before his easel, which contains a sizeable canvas, with a palette and brush in hand as he turns to a visitor who sits beside the painting. The latter’s cloak and casual pose suggest that he has arrived only recently and that he is comfortable in the studio. Behind the two men is a wall covered with various instruments, including a T-square, a painting, and several palettes. In the corner, an assistant stands as he grounds pigments for his master. The foreground is devoid of human figures; rather, it is filled with direct and ambient light streaming in from the shaded window and the large paper or fabric hanging in front of it. The relationship between light and shadow in this well-defined space is accentuated through its muted palette.

Arent de Gelder is most known for carrying forward Rembrandt’s late style into the 18th century. Here, he offers an unusual view into the artist’s studio, a valuable glimpse into the professional and social space of the 17th-century atelier. The various implements and props ornamenting the room – glasses of oils to mix with pigments, a mirror to execute self-portraits, carefully hung oiled paper bisecting the ceiling – herald the location as an active studio. This is further celebrated by the presence of the visitor, who has clearly come to experience the artist at work, much like the great ruler Alexander the Great did with the lauded antique painter Apelles. This motif turns this presumably faithful record of the artist’s studio into a celebration of the act of painting itself.

 
Gelder, Arent de
Dordrecht, Netherlands 1645–Dordrecht, Netherlands 1727
The Artist’s Studio
around 1710-1715
Oil on canvas
48.9 x 57.8 cm
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2015
58-010

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