I’m very excited to be welcoming author, Kim Devereux to Novel Kicks. Her novel, Rembrandt’s Mirror was released on 6th August by Atlantic Books. As part of her blog tour to celebrate the release of her book, Kim talks to us about what drew her to write about Rembrandt and the challenges and research she faced. Over to you, Kim.
I remember seeing Rembrandt’s Self-portrait at the age of 63 in my early twenties. I remained standing in front of it in the National Gallery for a long time and tears came to my eyes. There is something so moving about Rembrandt’s relentless depiction of his own aging face and his steady gaze amidst the wrinkles and sagging flesh. All this he must have observed so carefully in a mirror. He has painted his own decay and yet it is somehow magnificent too, the pose full of dignity and strength.
Imagine what it must have felt like for Rembrandt to scrutinize his face for weeks or even months on end. This is how long it took to paint a large self-portrait. Throughout his lifetime he painted and drew himself at least seventy-seven times.
Who would take a selfie these days that highlights their own decrepitude and still manage to turn it into an absolute triumph? The late self-portraits do just that. I started to puzzled over the fact how, despite suffering heavy blows of fate towards the very end of his life, he still managed to paint breath-taking images full of love and beauty such as The Jewish Bride. It is this question – how he arrived at the late works – that drove me to write Rembrandt’s Mirror and what it would be like to see the world through his eyes. I feel he had an unconventional way of seeing. He was able to put pictorial conventions and prejudices to one side and see things afresh. I feel that he is able to home in on what it is that makes us human. He never objectifies anyone. You always get a sense of the person. He seems to empathize with his subject or he’s very good at painting a face in a way that makes us feel we can get a felt sense of the character on display.by