Professor of art history at the University of Amsterdam, one of the initiators of the Rembrandt Research Project, and a connoisseur of 17th-century painting. Van der Wetering is the voice of dissent when it comes to the significance of Dutch light in 17th-century painting. He doubts that it was a factor at all and says there were as many kinds of light as there were ways of painting. It was not a question of light, he adds, but of a painter’s methods and style.
People believe in the myth and see what they want to see. No one remarks if the light is dull or uninteresting. Van der Wetering agrees that Dutch painters like Vermeer, Koninck, Rembrandt and Fabritius were outstanding masters and superb painters of light, but to say that they painted ‘Dutch’ light is going too far. ‘They were Dutch painters painting the effects of light – and it might not be wrong to say that they learned more from one another than from observing the world around them.’