To promote the exhibition Rembrandt: The Late Works at the National Gallery, BBC2 broadcast the programme Rankin Shoots Rembrandt last Friday in which the photographer recreates the painter’s work.
In the programme, Rankin describes the level of detail in Rembrandt’s work – detail which some artists would airbrush out to flatter the sitter. In fact, the lines and the “imperfections” make a much more interesting portrait.
Photography taking inspiration from great works of art is nothing new for the National Gallery. One of their previous exhibitions and the accompanying catalogue Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present by Hope Kingsley, compares photographs taken by well known photographers to the art that may have influenced them.
What strikes me about the difference between the photographer and the painter is the amount of time each can observe a subject to create a work. It can take hours or days of studying for a painter to go from a blank canvas to the finished piece. As a photographer, it is a luxury that I can only dream about.
Rembrandt: The Late Works is on at the National Gallery until 18 January 2015.