Young Rembrandt exhibition in his birthplace


This 1 November 2019 Dutch video is about the exhibition Young Rembrandt, rising star in the Lakenhal museum in Leiden, the Netherlands: the city where Rembrandt was born.

This video is the sequel.

There are about 40 paintings, 70 etches and 10 drawings in the exhibition.

Besides work by Rembrandt, there is also work by his teachers Lastman and Van Swanenburg. And by his colleague Jan Lievens, and by Rembrandt pupils.

It is the first-ever exhibition about Rembrandt’s time from 1624, when he made his first painting; till 1634, when he married Saskia van Uylenburgh and had definitely left Leiden for Amsterdam.

I visited this exhibition on 11 January 2019.

On my way to the museum, I saw four great cormorants sitting on a sail of the reconstructed windmill of Rembrandt’s father. A fifth cormorant flew towards them, landing on the same sail.

In the Lakenhal now, two paintings depicting ancient Greek mythology, as told by Roman poet Ovid, hang side by side.

Rembrandt, The abduction of Proserpina

The oldest of the two was The abduction of Proserpina, from 1630-1631. The picture depicts Pluto, the god of the underworld, abducting Proserpina (Persephone in Greek), daughter of Ceres (Demeter in Greek), the goddess of agriculture.

Pieter Lastman, who taught the young Rembrandt, had inspired his pupil to make paintings about biblical history, antique history and mythology. Yet, if we 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.

So, Rembrandt painted far less historical and mythological paintings than Rubens. Five of his works have themes from Ovid; less than many other 17th century artists.

In countries other than the Dutch Republic, these types of paintings often made complimentary allusions to contemporary princes and nobles, and/or were often commissioned by them.

In The Netherlands, there was no monarchical court comparable to this.

There was only the Stadhouder‘s court.

Which would have liked very much to be a princely court like elsewhere in Europe; but constitutionally wasn’t.

Rembrandt got a commission from that princely court (princely, as the Stadhouders were also absolute monarchs in the tiny statelet of Orange in southern France).

But when his portrait of Princess Amalia von Solms, wife of Stadhouder Frederik Hendrik, turned out to be not flattering enough, his relationship to that court deteriorated.

An Hermitage Amsterdam exhibition noted that Stadhouder Frederik Hendrik prefered painters from the feudal southern Netherlands, though that region was the military enemy, to “bourgeois” northern painters like Rembrandt. He also prefered Gerard van Honthorst to Rembrandt as a painter of portraits of his wife. Honthorst was not from the Spanish occupied southern Netherlands. However, his home province Utrecht in the central Netherlands was less bourgeois rebellious than Rembrandt’s Holland. And Honthorst had spent much time in feudal Italy.

Nevertheless, if compared to Rubens, Rembrandt painted many more portraits.

The sky in the Abduction of Proserpina painting is a special blue: lapis lazuli, which is expensive. He could afford that as the painting was commissioned by Frederik Hendrik; in 1630-1631, before that 1632 conflict on the portrait of Princess Amalia von Solms.

The Amalia van Solms portrait is not in Leiden. A Lakenhal worker explained to me that it had been complex to borrow Rembrandt works from other museums. It had not been possible to borrow the Amalia portrait from Paris in France.

Which is a pity, as that painting and its history are important for understanding the relationship between Rembrandt and his clients, whether princely aristocrats or urban bourgeois.

The Dutch weekly Leids Nieuwsblad of 18 July 2006 has a report by Werner Zonderop of a lecture, by Christopher Brown, of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, in Leiden. Chistopher Brown has put together this 2019-2020 Leiden rembrandt exhibition.

Brown’s subject in 1906 was Rembrandt, then born 400 years ago in Leiden.

Rembrandt, portrait of Princess Amalia von Solms

From the report (translated):

[Constantijn] Huygens [private secretary of Prince and Stadhouder Frederik Hendrik] made it possible for Rembrandt to get his first commissions at the Stadhouder’s court [in The Hague].

In this way, in 1632, Rembrandt was allowed to paint the portrait of Amalia von Solms [1602-1675], the wife of Frederik Hendrik.

[She was thirty years old then; eighteen years younger than her husband].

However, the princess of Orange, [nee Countess of Solms-Braunfels], did not like the portrait as it turned out, at all.

She thought her appearance had not been idealized.

To her indignation, Rembrandt painted her too much as she really was: the mouth stiff and grim, knob-nosed and fat, with a rather stern look.

The Abduction of Proserpina painting, now in Leiden, is usually in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.

Next to it in the Leiden exhibition is a Rembrandt painting of one year later: The Abduction of Europa. No longer commissioned by the Stadhouder, but by an Amsterdam businessman.

Rembrandt, Abduction of Europa

It is about the Phoenician princess Europa being abducted by the Greek god Zeus (Jupiter in Latin), disguised as a bull.

Normally, that work is in the J. Paul Getty Museum in the USA. The two museums were only willing to send these two similar paintings to Leiden, because now for the first time ever they would hang next to each other.

Another conspicuous 1631 painting in the Lakenhal was a depiction of then 12-year-old German Prince Rupert and his tutor. An article suggests that the prince’s father was not satisfied with the portrait, thinking there was too little emphasis on his son and too much on the non-princely tutor. So, Rembrandt left Leiden for Amsterdam and had his artist pupil Gerrit Dou finish the Prince Rupert painting. Prince Rupert would later play a role in the English civil war.

Prince Rupert and his tutor, by Rembrandt

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England will show this exhibition from 27 February till 7 June 2020.

Rembrandt’s, Da Vinci’s eyes and art


In Rembrandt’s 1639 etching, Self-Portrait, Leaning on a Stone Wall, the eye on the left looks straight ahead while the eye on the right faces slightly outward. Gift of John J. Glessner III, 1947/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In Rembrandt’s 1639 etching, Self-Portrait, Leaning on a Stone Wall, the eye on the left looks straight ahead while the eye on the right faces slightly outward. Gift of John J. Glessner III, 1947/The Metropolitan Museum of Art” title=”In Rembrandt’s 1639 etching, Self-Portrait, Leaning on a Stone Wall, the eye on the left looks straight ahead while the eye on the right faces slightly outward.

By Sofie Bates, December 9, 2019 at 6:00 am:

Why Rembrandt and da Vinci may have painted themselves with skewed eyes

Scientists are still debating if the cause was an eye disorder or one strongly dominant eye

A strongly dominant eye, not an eye disorder, may explain why Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt van Rijn painted themselves with misaligned eyes.

Previous research suggested that the famous artists may have had a literal artist’s eye — an eye disorder called exotropia in which one eye turns outward. Exotropia makes it harder for the brain to use input from both eyes to see in 3-D, so it must rely on 2-D cues to see depth. This gives people with the disorder a “flattened” view of the world, which could give artists who work on flat surfaces like canvas an advantage.

But using trigonometry and photographs of people looking into a mirror, David Guyton, an ophthalmologist at Johns Hopkins University, and his colleague Ahmed Shakarchi, conclude that the artists could have had eyes that faced straight ahead after all. The researchers published their analysis November 27 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

The brains of people who have a strongly dominant eye will favor whatever that eye sees. So when people with a strongly dominant eye look closely in a mirror — like, say, artists leaning in to get details needed to paint a self-portrait — they could perceive that they have exotropia even if that’s not true, Guyton says.

For instance, a person with a strongly dominant eye and eyes six centimeters apart who was sitting 16.5 centimeters from a mirror would wrongly perceive that the weaker eye is turned outward at a 10.3-degree angle, the researchers found. That angle is consistent with the eye angle portrayed in some artworks painted by or modeled after da Vinci.

“It is a clever idea,” says Christopher Tyler, a visual neuroscientist at the City University of London whose previous analysis of six pieces of art — some by da Vinci himself and some for which it’s suspected he was the model — suggested that da Vinci had exotropia (SN: 10/22/18). In many of those works, the eyes appear misaligned.

For the geometry of the strong eye explanation to work, Tyler says, the artist would have to sit “unrealistically close” to the mirror, especially for some of Rembrandt’s half-length, self-portraits or for the painting Salvator Mundi, which da Vinci may have partially modeled after himself. And it doesn’t fully explain why statues that were sculpted in da Vinci’s likeness by other artists also show apparent exotropia, Tyler says.

Bevil Conway, a neurobiologist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., says both explanations are plausible. A common trick among artists is to shut one eye and hold out a thumb to get a sense of how a three-dimensional world looks in 2-D. Both exotropia and a strongly dominant eye could have a similar “flattening” effect, which could have helped da Vinci and Rembrandt bring a 3-D world to life on flat canvases.

“The debate is still open, and the answer is that we can never know,” Conway says.

Rembrandt, other painting exhibitions in Dutch Leiden


This 14 June 2019 Dutch video with English subtitles says about itself:

An eye for detail

[Art historian] Wieteke van Zeil gives tips to see more during your visit to Museum De Lakenhal.

From the site of Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden, the Netherlands:

Museum De Lakenhal presents: Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden Age

20 June 2019 – 3 October 2019

The galleries of Museum De Lakenhal exhibit leading works from the Golden Age of Leiden’s masters such as Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Jan van Goyen, Jan Steen and the Leiden Fijnschilders (literally ‘fine painters’). This exhibition tells the story of Leiden and the flourishing artists who made it the birthplace of the Dutch Golden Age.

Leiden as birthplace of the Dutch Golden Age

Early 17th century Leiden was the workplace of diverse painters, each of which would prove to be of crucial significance to Dutch Golden Age art. The young Rembrandt and Jan Lievens worked closely together in their formative years as artists and during the time they spent in Leiden, they laid the foundations for an oeuvre that would be of global significance. From the outset, they presented themselves through their paintings and etchings as experimental and inquisitive artists. At the same time, Jan van Goyen and the maritime artist Jan Porcellis were developing as pioneers of Dutch landscape painting. Leiden also gained prominence through painters such as Jan Davidsz de Heem and David Bailly who focused on vanitas still lifes, which dealt with the concept of transience. The masterpieces of these great artists can be admired at the exhibition.

Rembrandt & Leiden’s Fijnschilders

Gerrit Dou was Rembrandt’s most important student. After leaving his mentor for Amsterdam in 1632, he concentrated on extremely finely detailed cabinet paintings. He was inspired by Rembrandt and developed into the founder of the Leidse Fijnschilders movement of artists, who, unlike Rembrandt and Vermeer, managed to acquire international renown during their lifetime. No collection of royal standing was complete without works by Fijnschilders such as Frans van Mieris, Pieter van Slingelandt or Godfried Schalcken. The collection of Fijnschilders at Museum De Lakenhal has recently grown into one of the most important of its kind.

Earliest known works of Rembrandt in the spotlight

The earliest known works of Rembrandt, including A Peddler Selling Spectacles (ca. 1624) and History Painting (1626) are at the heart of the exhibition. A Peddler Selling Spectacles is part of a series portraying the five senses which Rembrandt painted when he was about seventeen. Although Rembrandt is clearly experimenting with technique and perspective, this painting is a sign of the attention to the chiaroscuro and virtuosity of brushstrokes that we would see in Rembrandt’s later works for which he would become famous. History Painting (1626) is an early example of how Rembrandt portrays himself in a painting. In collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, the History Painting has been restored in the Amsterdam museum’s studio, bringing Rembrandt’s colour palette back to its original glory.

Late Golden Age

Leiden paintings of the late Golden Age are characterised by their expressive realism in conjunction with their classical dignity. The most significant representatives of the incipient movement are the Leiden-based painter Jan Steen and the sculptor Pieter Xavery. Their work, which is full of playful humour and folksy caricature, still enjoys huge popularity among a wide public. Like Rembrandt, Jan Steen had the habit of including self-portraits in his paintings. Presumably inspired by Rembrandt. The exhibition shows of Jan Steen’s works in which he incorporates his self-portrait: a self-portrait of the painter with his wife entitled Couple Reading the Bible (ca. 1650) and The robbed violonist (ca. 1670-72). Jan Steen was never shied away from portraying himself as a salt-of-the-earth caricature, as shown here as a violin player who is being robbed.

Year Of Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden Age

In 2019 the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt van Rijn’s death will be honoured with numerous events which will be held in The Hague, Leiden, Leeuwarden, Amsterdam and other places. Experience the Netherlands in the era of Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age through the special exhibitions being held at venues such as Museum De Lakenhal, the Fries Museum, The Mauritshuis, The Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam City Archives (Stadsarchief Amsterdam) and the Rijksmuseum.

How Rembrandt painted, new research


This July 2014 video is called The complete life of the painter Rembrandt van Rijn.

From the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility:

The secret to Rembrandt’s impasto unveiled

January 14, 2019

Rembrandt van Rijn revolutionized painting with a 3D effect using his impasto technique, where thick paint makes a masterpiece protrude from the surface. Thanks to the ESRF, the European Synchrotron, Grenoble, France, three centuries later an international team of scientists led by the Materials Science and Engineering Department of the Delft University of Technology and the Rijksmuseum have found how he did it. The study is published in Angewandte Chemie.

Impasto is thick paint laid on the canvas in an amount that makes it stand from the surface. The relief of impasto increases the perceptibility of the paint by increasing its light-reflecting textural properties. Scientists know that Rembrandt, epitome of the Dutch Golden Age, achieved the impasto effect by using materials traditionally available on the 17th century Dutch colour market, namely lead white pigment (a mixture of hydrocerussite Pb3(CO3)2(OH)2 and cerussite PbCO3), and organic mediums (mainly linseed oil). The precise recipe was, however, unknown until today.

Plumbonacrite, Pb5(CO3)3O(OH)2 is the mysterious, missing ingredient of the impasto effect, researchers from The Netherlands and France have discovered. It is extremely rare in historic paint layers. It has been detected in some samples from 20th century paintings and in a degraded red lead pigment in a Van Gogh painting. “We didn’t expect to find this phase at all, as it is so unusual in Old Masters paintings”, explains Victor Gonzalez, main author of the study and scientist at the Rijksmuseum and Delft University of Technology. “What’s more, our research shows that its presence is not accidental or due to contamination, but that it is the result of an intended synthesis,” he adds.

The European Synchrotron, ESRF, played an essential role in these findings. The team sampled tiny fragments from the Portrait of Marten Soolmans (Rijksmuseum), Bathsheba (The Louvre) and Susanna (Mauritshuis), three of Rembrandt’s masterpieces. Using the ESRF’s beamlines, they quantified the crystalline phases in Rembrandt’s impasto and in the adjacent paint layers, modelled the pigment crystallites morphology and size and obtained crystalline phase distribution maps at the microscale.

The samples were less than 0.1mm in size, requiring the small and intense beam delivered by the synchrotron. The scientists analysed them on two ESRF beamlines, ID22 and ID13, where they combined High-angular Resolution X-Ray Diffraction (HR-XRD) and micro-X-Ray Diffraction (?-XRD) . “In the past, we have already successfully used the combination of these two techniques to study lead-white based paints. We knew that the techniques can provide us with high quality diffraction patterns and therefore with subtle information about paint composition,” explains Marine Cotte, scientist at the ESRF, 2018 Descartes-Huygens Prize laureate for her research on art conservation.

The analysis of the data showed that Rembrandt modified his painting materials intentionally. “The presence of plumbonacrite is indicative of an alkaline medium. Based on historical texts, we believe that Rembrandt added lead oxide (litharge) to the oil in this purpose, turning the mixture into a paste-like paint,” explains Cotte.

The breakthrough yields the path for the long-term preservation and conservation of Rembrandt‘s masterpieces. However, the number of samples studied is not extensive enough to assess if lead white impastos systematically contain plumbonacrite. “We are working with the hypothesis that Rembrandt might have used other recipes, and that is the reason why we will be studying samples from other paintings by Rembrandt and other 17th Dutch Masters, including Vermeer, Hals, and painters belonging to Rembrandt’s circle,” explains Annelies van Loon, scientist at the Rijksmuseum.

New Rembrandt painting discovery


This 14 August 2018 video from the Netherlands says about itself:

On May 17, Young Rembrandt Studio opened its doors in a very special location. Langebrug 89 is the cosy 17th century dwelling where Rembrandt received his first painting lessons from his mentor, Jacob van Swanenburg. This listed building now houses a unique stop in the “Footsteps of the Young Rembrandt” walking tour through the city of Leiden.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

For the second time in a short time a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn has been discovered. According to the Leidsch Dagblad daily, the work is currently being restored and will then be exhibited at the De Lakenhal museum in Leiden.

Ancient Art Curator Christiaan Vogelaar of the museum says in the newspaper that the painting was discovered abroad. He does not want to reveal more about it yet. “We first have to make sure that it will have been restored in time, so that there will be enough time for research into the work, but I can not say more about it”, says Vogelaar. …

The Lakenhal will exhibit the painting as the first museum in the world, in the exhibition Young Rembrandt. In that exhibition, which will open on 3 November 2019, there are about 40 paintings, 120 etchings and 20 drawings by the Leiden-born artist and his contemporaries.

Young Rembrandt exhibit in Leiden, the Netherlands


This Dutch 18 May 2018 video says about itself (translated):

Leiden has a new attraction where you can experience the work and life of the young Rembrandt. Exactly at the place where he got his first painting lessons, a special video presentation explains what the Leiden life of the young painter looked like.

With the Young Rembrandt Studio, Leiden is taking a first step towards making Rembrandt more present in the city. The Young Rembrandt Studio on the Langebrug street has only been open for a day and yet a lot of people come to take a look. First you have to walk past the souvenirs, and then you end up in the narrow building at a curtain.

Behind it is the 7-minute video. ‘I really liked it’, says a lady from Amsterdam. Together with friends she visits Leiden. “And without Rembrandt a visit to Leiden is not a real visit”, she says.

However, many tourists do not know that Rembrandt was born in Leiden and his first painting lessons were with history painter Jacob van Swanenburgh. Leiden Marketing has set itself the goal of making young Rembrandt a permanent part of what Leiden has to offer as a tourist city.

Big plans

‘This is one of the first places in the new Rembrandt Trail‘, says Lucien Geelhoed of Leiden Marketing. “And so we are going to develop a number of places, such as the Latin school [where Rembrandt had lessons] but also along the Rapenburg canal and around his birth house.”

No mass tourism

In addition, in 2019 it will be exactly 350 years ago that Rembrandt died in Amsterdam. And that has to bring money to both Amsterdam and Leiden. But Leiden people do not have to be afraid of mass tourism. ‘We are mainly targeting tourists who are interested in art and culture.’ It is the intention that young Rembrandt will get a permanent place in Leiden, so that the tourists will be able to find Leiden after 2019 as well.

This Dutch 17 May 2018 video shows an interview with an actor playing Rembrandt‘s painting teacher Jacob van Swanenburgh at the Young Rembrandt Studio.