Simon Schama reviews Rembrandt: The Late Works at the National Gallery, London, on view through January 18, 2015.
Schama writes: "It is a mistake to think of post-bankruptcy Rembrandt as bereft, destitute and ignored. He was always famous, if increasingly controversial; always able to count on supporters, admirers and long-suffering friends still optimistically hanging on to IOUs. The debacle at the town hall was offset by the triumph of the group portrait for the 'Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild', another of the stupendous masterpieces in a show choked with them... The glowing Turkish rug on the table projects out from the picture plane and over it, the men themselves, arranged in contrapuntal, musical intervals, converge their glances along the line of its projection to . . . someone. You, perhaps. Thus the dullest genre imaginable – team boardroom – becomes a scene of dynamic human animation."