Thursday, February 05, 2015

Aristotle With The Bust of Homer - A Memoriam to Walter Liedtke

Rembrandt van Rijn
Aristotle With The Bust of Homer
56 1/2" x 53 3/4" oil on canvas 1653
Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 

With the sad news that Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Walter Liedtke was killed in this week's horrible rail crash in New York, posting his powerfully narrated web episode of 82nd & 5th: "The Choice", for me, helps keep this wonderful man's passion for Rembrandt alive. Below is the  Metropolitan Museum of Art's label text for Aristotle With The Bust of Homer:
Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) rests his hand reflectively on a bust of Homer, the blind epic poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey. A medallion representing Alexander the Great, whom Aristotle tutored, hangs from the heavy gold chain. The philosopher contemplates material rewards as opposed to spiritual values, with the play of light and shadow on his features suggesting the motions of his mind. Painted for the great Sicilian collector Antonio Ruffo, the picture also refers to Aristotle's comparison of touch and sight as a means of acquiring knowledge.

The Observer posted a link to Metropolitan Museum of Art director Thomas P. Campbell's statement on  Instagram, with an image of Rembrandt’s Aristotle With The Bust of Homer that was featured in an episode of the museum’s web series “82nd and Fifth,” narrated by Liedtke:

"Walter Liedtke, killed last night in the train crash at Valhalla. Walter was one of the preeminent scholars of Dutch and Flemish painting, whose contribution to the field lives on in a range of scholarly and popular publications. Here, a still from Rembrandt’s “Aristotle with the Bust of Homer” about which Walter memorably spoke in his recent “82nd and Fifth” webisode."

Walter Liedtke, Curator, Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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