But this is not the place for the sad reflections...

But this is not the place for the sad reflections which are awakened in our minds on examining the records of him whose name the world now glorifies and raises to the skies. Better to honour the great master who, for so many centuries, has held the world in awed admiration. There is no need to-day to drag Rembrandt forth from the obscurity of the past to save him from oblivion; we were not obliged to cleanse his image from the dust of ages before showing to the world this unequalled genius to whom Holland proudly points as one of her own sons.

On the contrary, never was Rembrandt's art valued so highly as it is now. Archives and documents are searched for details about his life and works. We want to know all about his life, and are anxious to share his inmost feelings in prosperity and adversity. The houses where he lived are marked down and bought by art-lovers. At the present time Rembrandt is in the zenith of his glory. Gold loses its value where his pictures are concerned. Fortunes are spent to secure the most insignificant of his works; people travel across continents to see them; and criticism, which for long years did little more than snarl at Rembrandt, has for nearly fifty years been dumb.

It is remarkable that none of the great painters have, in the course of years, been subjected to so much criticism as Rembrandt. And notwithstanding all the things which have been said about the improbability of the scene, and the exaggeration of the dark background, the "Night Patrol" is now, as it ever was and ever will be, the "World's wonder," as our English neighbours say.

During his lifetime there were people who condemned Rembrandt because he refused to follow in the footsteps of the old Italian painters, because he persisted in painting nature as he saw it.

To us such a reproach seems strange, yet it is quite true. Even during the last years of Rembrandt's life a growing dissatisfaction with the existing ideas on art and literature had taken possession of the Dutch mind. People developed a morbid taste for everything classical; and when I read in the prose works and poems of these days the Latinised names and the constant allusions to Greek gods and goddesses and mythological personages, so strangely out of place under our northern sky, I am filled with disgust.

It was fortunate, indeed, that Rembrandt always felt strong in his own conviction and only followed his own views. For many years after his death, even as late as the middle of the nineteenth century, a number of art critics raised objections against the dangerous theories of which his pictures were the expression. Again and again they attacked his technical treatment; none of them ever grasped its deeper, fuller meaning.

Happily those days are far behind us. A great number of books and pamphlets have been published on Rembrandt during the last fifty years, and they are almost unanimous in their praise and admiration of the great master. The more liberal feelings of the modern world have achieved some victories in the realms of art as well as elsewhere. We moderns feel that the apparent shortcomings and exaggerations are nothing but the inevitable peculiarities attendant upon genius. And we even go so far that we would not have him be without a single one of them, for fear of losing the slightest trait in the character of the great man whose every movement roused our intellectual faculties.

So Rembrandt has been raised in our days to the pinnacle of fame which is his by right; the festival of his tercentenary was acknowledged by the whole civilised world as the natural utterance of joy and pride of our small country in being able to count among its children the great Rembrandt.

I finish,—"with the pen, but not with the heart!" For if I should go on until the inclination to add more to what I have written here should fail me, my readers would have tired of me long before I had tired of my subject. I am thinking of that rare gem, the portrait of Jan Six—of the Louvre, of Cassel, of Brunswick, of what not!

May these pages convey to the reader the fact that I have always looked upon Rembrandt as the true type of an artist, free, untrammelled by traditions, genial in all he did; in short, a figure in whom all the great qualities of the old Republic of the United Provinces were concentrated and reflected.