Books: Rembrandt's Eyes

By Simon Schama

With the richness of brocade and the smoothness of shot silk, Schama's prose unfurls the life of Rembrandt in all its pathos. From prodigy to pauper, the troubled genius of 17th century Dutch painting is intricately conceived as he rises and falls in a world of war, plague and stolid bourgeois comfort. A galvanic force--ambitious, hugely inventive, avaricious--he is the portraitist of the poshest plutocrats, nobly aglitter, and the allegorist of human wreckage. Schama's book is a marvel of storytelling: sometimes heart pounding, always sympathetic and coolly reasoned. Seamlessly joining social history and art, what a triumph of scholarship and imagination!...

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