Naer ‘t levenBefore the invention of photography, only human hands were able to produce visual reproductions, such as drawings, paintings and graphic prints. In the 17th century, visual artists were considered to study all aspects of the ZICHTBAERE WERELT (the visual world) around them quite comprehensively in order to reproduce nature truthfully in their images.
Undoubtedly, the main and most stubborn representative of working NAER ‘T LEVEN (imitating life) was of course Rembrandt, who explicitly trained his pupils in the same strict manner. Even in case the artist mainly had to work from his visual memory (VAN ‘T ONTHOUT), in which Rembrandt was equally skilled, artists like him insisted on following the truths of nature. Rembrandt’s faithful and unaltered reproduction of what he observed around him, whether proper to the then current standards of beauty and decorum or not, caused him to be criticised by some contemporaries as SLAAF VAN DE NATUER (slave of nature). These critics saw the surrounding and observable nature merely as imperfect and even ugly – and therefore preferred an adjusted and more idealised translation when portrayed into works of art.