The Private Diary of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

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Alan Passes wrote the text while Oscar Grillo created the illustrations.  Here, they created a fictional diary that Rembrandt wrote during the last years of his life.  In this book, “Rembrandt” writes about Holland, family, love of material goods, and his grieving of Saskia, his first wife.  Another plot point that ties this whole book together is a male angel that visits Rembrandt occasionally.  Next to the Nightwatching movie, this is the second story that showed Rembrandt seeing otherworldly people.  All in all, this fictional diary reminds me of Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebooks with their text and illustrations.  Is the book good?  Well, it follows Rembrandt’s life accurately and the back of the book gives a timeline.  The writing creates a fun atmosphere, and it does resemble a diary with its mood changes and use of shorthand.  However, the writing from time to time will remind the reader that Passes wrote this and not Rembrandt.  ETA:  (I don’t know why I wrote this sentence because I have never read any available writings by the artist.  I think I meant that it felt too modern.)  The same problem occurs with the illustrations.  Oskar Grillo wants the viewer to resemble Rembrandt with his sketches, but their wildly different styles can take the viewer out of this mood.  On the other hand, some of Grillo’s illustrations were really good.  The simple illustrations add a nice sentimental touch to the book.  Furthermore, he does like to draw Rembrandt with a big nose.  Now, the portrait does show that Rembrandt did have one, but Grillo makes it so obvious, it becomes a supporting character.

All in all, this book is a cute, inoffensive read.

ETA: Revamped a link.

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