Rembrandt’s drawings online


Rembrandt, The Pancake Woman, from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam collection

From the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands:

Drawings by Rembrandt

Biblical and genre scenes, figure and animal studies, landscapes and portraits: an impressive selection of 64 drawings by the master that demonstrate his profound skill and penetrating psychological insight.

See all the works included in this catalogue.

Each entry can be found by scrolling down on the artwork page and clicking on ‘Catalogue entry’ below the image.

This online catalogue, an update of Peter Schatborn’s 1985 collection catalogue Tekeningen van Rembrandt, zijn onbekende leerlingen en navolgers/Drawings by Rembrandt, his Anonymous Pupils and Followers, features 58 sheets now considered genuine drawings by Rembrandt (1606–1669) in the Rijksprentenkabinet; with autograph versos, the tally comes to 64 drawings. If our holdings constitute only a fraction of Rembrandt’s surviving drawings, they provide a representative selection from his whole career.

The first seven drawings by Rembrandt to enter our collection – including the genre masterpiece The Pancake Woman – came through the Vereniging Rembrandt, a society founded by private individuals to save works for the nation from the 1883 sale of Jacob de Vos Jbzn. Nearly half of the collection comes from the 1906 donation of Dr Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, briefly director of the Rijksprentenkabinet, whose comprehensive catalogue of Rembrandt drawings appeared in the same 300th anniversary year. His bequest includes Three Scribes (a study for the artist’s most important early painting) on the verso of the beautiful Study of a Woman’s Legs. The rare early Self-portrait belongs to another major gift, the bequest of Mr and Mrs I. de Bruijn-van de Leeuw, which arrived in 1961. Outstanding purchases in recent decades are the Studies for the Sick Woman in the ‘Hundred Guilder Print’ and the Cottage with White Paling among Trees, both connected to etchings by the artist. The only acquisition to post-date Schatborn’s 1985 catalogue, Portrait of the Actor Willem Bartholsz Ruyter, was completely unknown before a photocopy of it was sent to him for his opinion in 1995.

In the coming months, this online catalogue will be augmented with texts on drawings by named artists from the school of Rembrandt, as well as those by anonymous pupils and followers.

See also here.

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Rembrandt exhibition on film


This video from Britain says about itself:

4 November 2014

Watch the new Rembrandt from the National Gallery, London and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam cinema trailer, part of EXHIBITION ON SCREEN – your front row seat to the world’s greatest art.

Every Rembrandt exhibition is eagerly anticipated but this major new show, focused on the final years of his life and hosted by London’s National Gallery and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is the biggest in many years. Given exclusive & privileged access by both galleries, the film documents this extraordinary show and interweaves Rembrandt’s life story with the behind the scenes preparations at both institutions. For many, this is the greatest artist that ever lived – this film will take a close look at the man behind such acclaim.

On 15 April 2017, I went to see this Rembrandt exhibition film. Another film in the Exhibition on Screen series was about Hieronymus Bosch.

The theme of the exhibition is Rembrandt’s later years, 1651-1669. Usually, art historians take 1651 as a starting point, as Rembrandt then changed technically, using broader brush strokes in his paintings.

During the preparations for the exhibition, people discovered that Rembrandt had made changes compared to the earliest versions of his works of art. In one case, Rembrandt had done quite some work on a painting, but did not finish it, and later made another painting on that canvas.

The film names four influences on Rembrandt: Caravaggio; Rubens; Lucas van Leyden, from the same Leiden city as Rembrandt; and Pieter Lastman, who taught the young Rembrandt. Lastman inspired Rembrandt to make paintings about biblical history, antique history and mythology. Yet, if we (not the film) compare what Rembrandt painted about and what his older contemporary and inspiration Rubens painted about, then we see a striking difference. 75% of Rubens’ work had religious or antique historical and mythological subjects. With Rembrandt, only 25% of his work fitted into these categories. While 70% of Rembrandt’s work were portraits, including self-portraits. Only 15% of Rubens’ work were portraits; 0% self-portraits.

In this, Rembrandt went against the traditional view of which visual art categories were supposedly superior and which were supposedly inferior. Traditionally, painting Christian religious or antique historical or mythological scenes was seen as more ‘noble’ than painting portraits. However, the seventeenth century Dutch republic was different in this, the film remarks. In other European countries, painters worked for the Roman Catholic church (or for princely or other noble courts, the film makers might have added). In the Netherlands, the urban bourgeois, recently victorious in the revolt against the monarchy of Spain and its aristocratic old order, wanted portraits of themselves. And Rembrandt and others painted them. While in Rubens’ southern Low Countries (roughly what later became Belgium) the Spanish armies had managed to suppress the revolt and save the old social and religious order. The film, describing the revolt against the Spanish kings in Dutch national terms, does not use words like ‘bourgeois’ or ‘class’; but studying the context of Rembrandt’s and Rubens’s works suggests them.

There were not only painters inspiring Rembrandt. Rembrandt himself inspired many later painters. Including Francisco Goya. Goya said: ‘I had three teachers: nature, Velazquez, and Rembrandt’.

One can speculate whether Rembrandt was also an inspiration for Goya in depicting monarchs’ relatives unflatteringly. Rembrandt got one commission from the princely court in Holland (princely, as the Stadhouders in the Low Countries were also absolute monarchs in the tiny statelet of Orange in southern France). But when his portrait of Princess Amalia von Solms turned out to be not flattering enough, he never got a commission from that court again. Maybe a bit in the vein of Goya a century and half later, who is said to have mocked the Spanish royal family in his portrait painting of them.

Talking about Rembrandt and princely families: he twice made a painting about Lucretia, a woman from ancient Roman historical tradition. According to that tradition, in 509 BC the son of the king of Rome, Sextus Tarquinius, raped Lucretia. Sextus Tarquinius thought he could commit that crime with impunity, as he was a man, Lucretia a woman; he was a prince, Lucretia a subject. Like in 2015 a scion of the Saudi royal family harassed women sexually in the USA, saying: ‘I am a prince and I do what I want. You are nobody!’ Sextus Tarquinius told Lucretia that if she would not submit to being raped, then he would kill both her and one of her slaves, place their bodies together, and claim he had defended her husband’s honour when he caught her having adulterous sex. In despair, after the rape Lucretia then committed suicide.

The film points out that Rembrandt’s first Lucretia painting shows the subject (in seventeenth century rather than Roman antiquity clothes) on the verge of killing herself with a dagger, still a bit uncertain whether she would do it.

Rembrandt, Lucretia preparing to stab herself

While the second painting shows Lucretia just after she had become sure about her decision, having inflicted a lethal wound in her breast, and ringing an alarm, summoning witnesses to tell them Prince Sextus Tarquinius had raped her, as her last words before dying.

Rembrandt, Lucretia after stabbing herself

Anger in Rome about the rape and suicide of Lucretia led to a revolt in which the royal family was deposed and replaced by the Roman republic.

That Roman republic became an inspiration for later revolutions in which monarchs were overthrown and replaced by republics. Like the eighteenth century American revolution against King George III of Britain, in which the first president of the USA, George Washington, was compared to Roman republican statesman Cincinnatus. During the French revolution against King Louis XVI revolutionary painter David painted scenes from Roman republican history.

Earlier, during Rembrandt’s lifetime, the Roman republic had been an inspiration for English revolutionaries who deposed and beheaded King Charles I and made England a republic.

The film is quite elaborate on how Rembrandt painted Lucretia’s clothes, her blood and her facial expressions telling about her inner feelings. However, the film does not ask why Rembrandt considered Lucretia a worthy subject. According to ancient Roman historiography, Sextus Tarquinius’ royal dynasty were tyrants, killing people and taxing the people heavily. They were also Etruscans. These Etruscan royals did not speak their Roman subjects’ Latin, but a very different language as their mother tongue. Like taxation and bloodshed had been causes of the Etruscan-Roman royals’ downfall, Spanish royal taxes and the Spanish inquisition burning Protestants at the stake had also been factors in the Dutch revolt. May Rembrandt not have seen a parallel between the royal dynasty of Rome and King Philip II and his successors in Spain; and between the successful republican revolt in Rome, and the succesful (at least in the northern Low Countries) Dutch revolt against the monarchy?

I don’t know any writings by Rembrandt confirming that; so, for the moment this is just speculation by me.

In the film, there is another speculation: that the exiled French philosopher Descartes and Rembrandt knew each other and influenced each other. Again, as far as I know, neither in writings by Descartes nor in writings by Rembrandt there is proof of that.

Finally, the film mentioned and illustrated that Rembrandt was an important innovator in art techniques. In painting, and also in etching.

Dog drawing by Rembrandt discovery


Dog, by Rembrandt

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Drawing of dog turns out to be real Rembrandt

Today, 12:49

A chalk drawing of a dog which had been in possession of a German museum for centuries appears to be the work of Rembrandt van Rijn. International experts confirm that. “It’s 110 percent Rembrandt“, said the Dutch Rembrandt expert Peter Schatborn.

The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Braunschweig has had the drawing in their collection since about 1770. Until now it was considered to be a work by the German artist Johann Melchior Roos. …

Schatborn calls it a nice addition to the known works of the Dutch master. “There are of course some 700 drawings by Rembrandt. It is special if there is found something new by such an old master.” He says it’s one of the few drawings which Rembrandt made of dogs.

Rembrandt self-portrait exhibition in England


This video says about itself:

20 January 2016

I’m down at the Ulster Museum to see Rembrandt‘s final self portrait before he died aged 63. You could say that these self portraits were the selfies of his day!

This painting represents one of his finest works. It is on a tour of the outer reaches of the UK so that folk unable to travel to London’s National Gallery might have an opportunity to see it. It remains at the Ulster Museum until early February.

Rembrandt (1606–1669) is perhaps the best-loved and most admired painter of the seventeenth century. Born in Leiden, he spent most of his life in Amsterdam, where he worked for a wide circle of wealthy and influential patrons. Rembrandt’s reputation was built on his skill in producing ambitious and dazzling biblical scenes, history paintings and portraits, yet it is through a remarkable series of self-portraits that we feel closest to the painter’s inner thoughts and character.

Rembrandt produced some 80 self-portraits – paintings, drawings and prints- over the course of his 40-year career. No artist before Rembrandt, and only a very few since, have made self-portraiture such a significant part of their life’s work. Self Portrait at the Age of 63, painted in the final year of the artist’s life, is among the very last works he finished. It is a work of sheer virtuosity: proof, if ever it were needed, that with maturity his talent had only become all the more profound.

Self Portrait At The Age Of 63, normally on show at the National Gallery in London, will be the main attraction in a new exhibition at the Ulster Museum.

Anne Stewart, curator of fine art with National Museums Northern Ireland, said: ” One of his most famous self-portraits, this incredible work of art is considered one of his most important and poignant works.

“There is an intensity and pride about the painting, as well as deep pain and sadness. There is a strong sense that this was a self-portrait by someone who knew he was close to the end of his life.”

Some of the Ulster Museum’s own collection of old masters, Dutch paintings from the 17th century will also be on display, including works by Salomon van Ruysdael, Jan Symonsz Pynas, Jan van der Heyden and Nicolaes Maes.

Belfast is the first stop on the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour which aims to bring some of the world’s most famous paintings to a wider audience.

By Philip Norton in Britain:

Facing up to questions of mortality

Saturday 9th April 2016

PHILIP NORTON recommends an intriguing exhibition of a Rembrandt painting

Rembrandt: Self-portrait at the Age of 63
Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal
5/5

VISITING this exhibition is quite the opposite of the dreaded school trip to an art gallery.

No traipsing through room after room of dark brown paintings with ropes to dent curiosity and a monotony of gilt frames captive under spotlights. Just a single picture, in a darkened room, the hessian walls painted with layers of midnight-blue emulsion.

A Rembrandt self-portrait is the last of three paintings to be chosen from the National Gallery’s collection for a mini “masterpiece” tour of the provinces. It began three years ago with Manet’s Execution of Maximilian, followed in 2015 by a Venetian landscape by Canaletto.

The greatest impact of this precisely measured — and privately sponsored — gesture of generosity is the sharp focus lent to the chosen paintings. Seeing the painting alone brings to mind the just-completed work resting on Rembrandt’s easel.

Its restoration of 1967 is still quite evident — there are no layers of smoke and dirt to peer through.

Completed in 1669 it was the last of nearly 40 self-portraits. Much had happened since the round-faced young man of 22 turned into the more determined face of just a year later. By 1634, the painter is clearly enjoying his status with flamboyant velvet beret and a Three Musketeers’ moustache.

This is perhaps Rembrandt’s last carefree self-portrait as by the age of 34, although clearly increasing in stature and painterly confidence, he presents an internalised figure.

Mortality has perhaps become the dominant subject of inquiry.

By the time of this final portrait he was 63 and much has been said about his world-weary look.

It’s true he had suffered much loss. Only his fourth child Titus survived into adulthood. Three previous children were lost to infant illness and their mother Saskia had died from tuberculosis in 1642.

Titus, the subject of a number of Rembrandt’s paintings, was through a complicated arrangement the owner of a company employing Rembrandt. He also died a few months before this self-portrait was completed.

The fatigue of a man who lived beyond his means is evident and it’s true that in 1656 he was forced to sell his prized collection of antiquities to side-step bankruptcy. By 1660, nine years before this last portrait, his house — today the Rembrandt museum in Amsterdam — went too and even his printing press.

These events, until quite recently, shaped our view of the picture. It was thought Rembrandt died in poverty with barely enough money for food and so this painting was seen almost entirely as the reflection of a ruined man.

But it was not the case at all. Historians have since shown he died having built up a second smaller but still significant collection of antiquities and master drawings, enough to fill three rooms of his house. He was never forgotten in his lifetime but was always working and selling pictures.

What was perceived as the look of a ruined man is clearly more a case of acceptance and resignation.

The information panel shows the X-rayed canvas revealing an earlier version in which Rembrandt presented himself in the white beret of the painters studio holding paint brushes.

He had portrayed himself this way before and perhaps most telling, in this final version, is his decision to remove the props.

Rembrandt is no longer the salesman furthering his prospects but a quietly balanced image brimming with the shadows of past certainties. It’s the sort of painting WB Yeats called “the right twigs for an eagle’s nest.”

Runs until May 15, opening times: abbothall.org.uk, then at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, May 21-July 17, opening times: bristolmuseums.org.uk.

Rembrandt exhibition in Amsterdam, and also online


This Dutch video is about the ‘Late Rembrandt’ exhibition in Amsterdam; also visible on the Internet.

From the Rijksmuseum site in the Netherlands:

A once-in-a lifetime exhibition

Discover ‘Late Rembrandt’ online

The Rijksmuseum is holding a truly impressive retrospective of Rembrandt’s later works until 17 May 2015. Since everyone should have the chance to experience this, KPN, the main sponsor for the Rijksmuseum and this exhibition, is making it possible to discover this spectacular exhibition online – wherever and whenever you want. Join the guided tours given by Dutch celebrities.

Watch the online tours here.

Rembrandt, new Internet site


This video says about itself:

The complete life of the painter Rembrandt van Rijn

14 July 2014

A documentary which unlocks Rembrandt to a large public. Trough his documentary we travel for 53 minutes together with Rembrandt in a geographical reconstruction of his life. The documentary shows beautiful pictures of which Rembrandt has drawn his inspiration. A lot of the buildings from Rembrandt`s days still exist. Trough modern digital techniques we change, where possible, the current image into the painting that the artist has made for over 400 years ago or into old pictures of those times.

From the Rembench site in the Netherlands:

A Digital Workbench for Rembrandt Research

RemBench is an integrated online work environment that enables research about the life and works of Rembrandt van Rijn. We brought together four existing databases and disclosed them through one search interface. Our target groups are historians, art historians and other humanities scholars and students.

The four databases that have been integrated by RemBench are:

RemBench is funded as part of the CLARIN-NL programme and was developed by Huygens ING in collaboration with Radboud University Nijmegen and RKD. It is a demo application, intended to serve as an example of the possibilities of digitized historical data. The data reside in their original databases; RemBench provides access to them.

For any questions about RemBench, you can contact Suzan Verberne, s.verberne@let.ru.nl

For a short introduction to RemBench see this instructional video.

That video is here (scroll down).

There is also another video, this one:

That video says about itself:

12 June 2014

An example of a user interacting with RemBench, an integrated working environment for Rembrandt research.

Rembrandt’s birthday and music


This video from the Netherlands, with English subtitles, says about itself:

Teaser to the exhibition Frans Hals: Eye to eye with Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian. The exhibition will run from March 22, 2013 – July 28, 2013.

Rembrandt was a peculiar artist, compared to his seventeenth century colleagues.

Unlike, eg, Rubens, he lived in the rebellious northern Low Countries republic; not under a monarchy like in most of Europe then. That influenced which subjects he painted, as this blog has explained before.

Rembrandt did not only differ from artists living outside the Dutch republic like Rubens; he differed from his Dutch contemporaries as well.

Five percent of Rembrandt’s works were scenes from daily life and landscapes. Far less than in many other seventeenth century Dutch painters. Scenes from daily life, or “genre art“, were popular in the Dutch bourgeois art market. Many painters, like Johannes Vermeer and Jan Steen, specialized in them.

Landscape painting may have become popular, as the Dutch Republic was one of the most densely populated and, pre machine, industrialized areas of Europe, creating a market for painted idyllic counterweights.

Some Dutch seventeenth century landscape painters specialized in special types of landscapes, like frozen canals and rivers in winter.

Though Rembrandt was born close to the Rhine river, where, as we know from other painters, in many winters, usually more severe in the seventeenth century than now, many citizens of Leiden came for skating, he seems to not have liked winter and skating.

As of all his paintings, only one is a winter scene.

Other Dutch artists painted ships at sea. Rembrandt never did, as far as I know.

This video is called Rembrandt’s Timeline.

Very differently from colleagues like Jan Steen and Frans Hals, Rembrandt also never depicted a lute in his work, said lute player Wouter Lucassen during the celebration of Rembrandt’s birthday on 14 July.

Wouter participated in the celebration in a show called The Rembrandt Living Jukebox. The audience could ask which one of ten songs from Rembrandt’s seventeenth century should be played. To perform the songs there were three instruments: a lute, a theorbo, and singer Henriëtte van Rijn’s soprano voice. Henriëtte van Rijn used to sing in the Barbarella’s.

The songs were by Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft, Constantijn Huygens, Joost van den Vondel and Adriaen Valerius. Especially Valerius’ songs mocked the Spanish monarchy and its Roman Catholic state religion, against which the young Dutch republic revolted.

Wouter Lucassen learned his lute playing from Willem Mook, who played at the 2012 Rembrandt birthday celebration.

Rembrandt, musical allegory

In 1626, Rembrandt did make a painting, called Musical Allegory by later art historians. It depicted a viola da gamba and a harp, but, again, not a lute.

Just before midnight, participants in the celebration went to the bust of Rembrandt, not far from Haagplein 4 building. Precisely at midnight, a wreath was hung around the bust’s neck. Contrary to last year’s celebration, I did not hurt my knee.

Was Rembrandt inspired by Hull? The Dutch master’s Humberside connection: here.