Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
After his wife left him, Rubin, the sculptor, took to wearing various odd hats. Now, at age forty-six, he favors a visorless, soft, round white cap. Arkin, the art historian at the New York City art school where Rubin also teaches, thinks that the hat “illumines a lonely inexpressiveness arrived at after years of experience.” He tells Rubin that the hat resembles Rembrandt’s hat—the one that Rembrandt wears in the profound self-portraits of his middle age. The day after Arkin makes this remark, Rubin stops wearing the hat and begins to avoid him.
Arkin—“a hypertensive bachelor of thirty-four”—has considered himself friendly with Rubin, although they are not really friends. Arkin has been at the school for seven years, having left an art curator’s job in St. Louis to come to New York. Arkin could never get Rubin to say anything at all about his artwork. Arkin remembers that when he first arrived, Rubin was working in wood, altering driftwood objects with a hatchet. At that time Rubin was persuaded by the director of the art school to present an exhibition—his only one. The exhibit was not a success, and Rubin spent the time sulking in a storage room at the rear of the gallery. Recently, Arkin suggested that it might be a good idea for Rubin to show his new work, which is constructed from welded triangular pieces of scrap iron. The suggestion obviously irritated Rubin.
After the hat remark, months pass during which Rubin...
(The entire section is 777 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Rembrandt's Hat Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!