Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life lessons from Rembrandt

Frankly, I expected "How Rembrandt Reveals Your Beautiful, Imperfect Self," by one Roger Housden, which has been on my shelf unread for a couple of years, to be more of an art book. (I got it with the idea of giving it to my son's then-wife, an artist, but they divorced almost immediately amid way too much drama.) The title really should have tipped me off, however. It's more of a self-help/inspiration book, centered around Rembrandt's life and especially his self-portraits, which he did at every stage of his career. Now Rembrandt was not a conventionally handsome man. Housden's point is that the self-portraits not only show different moods at different stages of his career but are unflinchingly honest -- warts and all, so to speak. When he was down, the self-portraits look almost ugly.

Rembrandt went from unknown to highly celebrated and successful to being something of a forgotten has-been forced to sell all his possessions to survive during his career. The lessons Housden takes from the life: Open Your Eyes and follow your passion; Love This World as you find it; Troubles Will Come to anybody; Stand Like a Tree when you think you're too weak; Keep the Faith in yourself and the power of love; and finally Accept the Inevitable when your time comes.

Not always completely inspired, but it has lots of illustrations from Rembrandt paintings, and that can't be all bad.

No comments: