ACT Reading Practice Test 101: HUMANITIES

DIRECTIONS: Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.


HUMANITIES: This passage is adapted from the article "Out of Rembrandt's Shadow" by Matthew Gurewitsch (©2009 by Smithsonian Institution).

Telescopes trained on the night sky, astronomers
observe the phenomenon of the binary star, which
appears to the naked eye to be a single star but consists
in fact of two, orbiting a common center of gravity.
5Sometimes, one star in the pair can so outshine the
other that its companion may be detected only by the
way its movement periodically alters the brightness of
the greater one.

The binary stars we recognize in the firmament of
10art tend to be of equal brilliance: Raphael and
Michelangelo, van Gogh and Gauguin, Picasso and
Matisse. But the special case of an "invisible'' compan-
ion is not unknown. Consider Jan Lievens, born in
Leiden in western Holland on October 24, 1607, just
1515 months after the birth of Rembrandt van Rijn,
another Leiden native.

While the two were alive, admirers spoke of them
in the same breath, and the comparisons were not
always in Rembrandt's favor. After their deaths,
20Lievens dropped out of sight-for centuries. Though
the artists took quite different paths, their biographies
show many parallels. Both served apprenticeships in
Amsterdam with the same master, returned to that city
later in life and died there in their 60s. They knew each
25other, may have shared a studio in Leiden early on, def-
initely shared models and indeed modeled for each
other. They painted on panels cut from the same oak
tree, which suggests they made joint purchases of art
supplies from the same vendor. They later showed the
30same unusual predilection for drawing on paper
imported from the Far East.

The work the two produced in their early 20s in
Leiden was not always easy to tell apart, and as time
went on, many a superior Lievens was misattributed to
35Rembrandt. Quality aside, there are many reasons why
one artist's star shines while another's fades. It mat-
tered that Rembrandt spent virtually his entire career in
one place, cultivating a single, highly personal style,
whereas Lievens moved around, absorbing many differ-
40ent influences. Equally important, Rembrandt lent him-
self to the role of the lonely genius, a figure dear to the
Romantics, whose preferences would shape the tastes
of generations to come.

While Lievens' name will be new to many, his
45work may not be. The sumptuous biblical spectacular
The Feast of Esther, for instance, was last sold, in 1952,
as an early Rembrandt, and was long identified as such
in 20th-century textbooks. It is one of more than
130 works featured in the current tour of the interna-
50tional retrospective "Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master
Rediscovered."

The artworks, in so many genres, are hardly the
works of an also-ran. "We've always seen Lieven
through the bright light of Rembrandt, as a pale reflec-
55tion." says Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., curator of northern
Baroque paintings at the National Gallery. "This show
lets you embrace Lievens from beginning to end, to
understand that this man has his own trajectory and that
he wasn't? always in the gravity pull of Rembrandt."
60Wheelock has been particularly struck by the muscular?
ity and boldness of Lievens, which is in marked con-
trast to most Dutch painting of the time. "The approach
is much rougher, much more aggressive," he says.
"Lievens was not a shy guy with paint. He manipulate
65it, he scratches it. He gives it a really physical
presence."

Lievens painted The Feast of Esther around 1625.
about the time Rembrandt returned to Leiden. It is
approximately four and a half by five and a half feet,
70with figures shown three-quarter length, close to the
picture plane. (At that time, Rembrandt favored smaller
formats.) At tbe luminous center of the composition. a
pale Queen Esther points an accusing finger at Haman,
the royal councilor. Her husband, the Persian King
75Ahasuerus, shares her light, his craggy face set off by a
snowy turban and a mantle of gold brocade. Seen from
behind, in shadowy profile, Haman is silhouetted
against shimmering white drapery, his right hand flying
up in dismay.

80 Silks, satins and brocades, elegant plumes and
gemstones-details like these give Lievens ample scope
to show off his flashy handling of his medium. Not for
him the fastidious, enamel-smooth surfaces of the
Leiden Fijnschilders-"fine painters." in whose meticu-
85lously rendered oils every brush stroke disappeared.
Lievens reveled in the thickness of the paint and the
way it could be shaped and scratched and swirled with
a brush, even with the sharp end of a handle. This tac-
tile quality is one of Rembrandt's hallmarks as well;
90there are now those who think he picked it up from
Lievens.

1. The main purpose of the passage is to:

A. argue that Lievens's artworks are superior to Rembrandt's and deserve to be shown in their own retrospective.
B. bring Lievens out of obscurity by discussing him as both a peer of Rembrandt and an artist in his own right.
C. criticize the art world's belated recognition of Rembrandt and Lievens as an artistic pair.
D. illustrate the profound differences between Lievens's artistic training and Rembrandt's.

2. In the passage, both the author and Wheelock describe the effect that Rembrandt's popularity had on Lievens by:

F. analyzing biographical similarities between the two artists.
G. comparing Lievens's early work to his later work.
H. personifying Lievens's painting style.
J. using astronomy metaphors

3. In the context of the passage, the main purpose of the first paragraph is to introduce:

A. a scientific phenomenon that mirrors the relation-ship between Rembrandt and Lievens.
B. an exceptional painting by Lievens that was attrib-uted to Rembrandt.
C. the innovative culture in which Rembrandt and Lievens lived.
D. a historical event that inspired both Rembrandt and Lievens.

4. The passage most nearly suggests that, in contrast to Rembrandt and Lievens, other artists who are consid-ered members of artistic pairs have tended to:

F. build their reputations by staying in just one city.
G. be underappreciated during their lifetimes.
H. achieve equal recognition in the art world.
J. have few biographical similarities

5. In the context of the passage, the description of the subjects featured in the painting The Feast of Esther (lines 72-79) mainly serves to:

A. provide an analogy for the tense relationship between Rembrandt and Lievens.
B. demonstrate how Lievens's art reflected Dutch political dynamics .
C. illustrate Lievens's bold painting style and atten-tion to detail
D. exemplify techniques common to Dutch painting of the time

6. The passage indicates that Lievens's recognition in the art community declined most significantly at which of the following times?

F. When Lievens returned to Amsterdam
G. While Lievens was painting The Feast of Esther
H. When Rembrandt returned to Leiden
J. After Rembrandt and Lievens died

7. The passage most strongly suggests that Lievens might have attained more recognition if he had painted:

A. in collaboration with other artists.
B. more historical subjects.
C. in one specific style.
D. in smaller formats.

8. The passage indicates that Rembrandt appealed to the Romantics because:

F. he fit their ideal of the lonely and brilliant artist.
G. he traveled widely and absorbed many influences.
H. his artwork featured scenes of courtship and love.
J. his artwork shaped the tastes of later generations

9. The fact that The Feast of Esther was misidentified as

A. is considered by modern art critics to be inferior to Rembrandt's.
B. peaked in quality during Lievens's early adulthood.
C. may be familiar to some even though Lievens
D. can be difficult for art exhibitors to obtain

10. The last sentence of the passage most nearly serves to:

F. summarize the passage's arguments about why Lievens did not achieve lasting fame.
G. suggest that Lievens may have influenced Rembrandt artistically.
H. argue that Lievens and Rembrandt collaborated while they were in Leiden.
J. outline a controversy regarding the authenticity of some Rembrandt paintings.