Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 29 July 1888, Letter 12, page 3
Thaw Collection, given in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr., 2007
However, it's Frenchmen, C. Blanc, Thoré, Fromentin, certain others who have written better
than the Dutch on that art.
Those Dutchmen had scarcely any imagination or fantasy but great taste and the art of arrangement;
they did not paint Jesus Christs, the Good Lord and others. Rembrandt though—indeed, but
he's the only one (and there are relatively few biblical subjects in his oeuvre), he's the only one who,
as an exception, did Christs, etc.
And in his case, they hardly resemble anything by other religious painters; it's a metaphysical magic.
So, Rembrandt painted angels—he makes a portrait of himself as an old man, toothless, wrinkled,
wearing a cotton cap—first, painting from life in a mirror—he dreams, dreams, and his brush
begins his own portrait again, but from memory, and its expression becomes sadder and more
saddening; he dreams, dreams on, and why or how I do not know, but just as Socrates and Mohammed
had a familiar genie, Rembrandt, behind this old man who bears a resemblance to himself, paints a
supernatural angel with a da Vinci smile.
© 2007 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam