Rembrandt’s paintings, money and new film reviewed


This 12 November 2019 video, the trailer of the film My Rembrandt, says about itself:

What makes Rembrandt’s paintings technically so extraordinary, and why are different people so deeply affected by his oeuvre, or a specific work? Centuries after his death, his paintings are still a source of drama and gripping plot twists.

Rembrandt’s paintings have lost none of their appeal in the 350 years since his death. Collectors worldwide cherish the magic of the Dutch master’s work.

This entertaining documentary shows the passion of a variety of Rembrandt enthusiasts. An eccentric, aristocratic Scot is looking for the ultimate place to hang his beloved portrait of a woman reading, and an animated Amsterdam art dealer has his eye out for a second chance to discover a “new” Rembrandt—this descendant of an old merchant family, whose ancestor was once painted by Rembrandt himself, has got something to prove.

An ambitious American businessman and his wife proudly make “their” Rembrandts available to the Louvre, and the Rothschild family’s decision to put Rembrandt’s wedding portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit on the market threatens to provoke a diplomatic row between the Netherlands and France.

On 26 January 2020, we went to see this film by Oeke Hoogendijk. Earlier, I had seen another film by Ms Hoogendijk, about the reconstruction of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

My Rembrandt, more than being about Rembrandt himself, is a film about what happens around his paintings in the 21st century. It raises questions between the relationship between art and money; between art and social classes in history.

These issues have at least two sides. On the one hand, about Rembrandt himself and money and social classes. On the other hand, about Rembrandt’s works, money and social classes in our 21st century. It turns out that lots of money in art may destroy friendships between people and governments.

Rembrandt was luckier financially than Vincent van Gogh and many other artists. Van Gogh sold just one painting for little money while he was alive. However, after his death, Van Gogh, in a cruel twist of economical mechanisms, like quite some others, became an artist off whom some people made very much money. Rembrandt sold many paintings, usually for good money. But, as he spent much on eg, attributes for his paintings, he went bankrupt and died relatively poor. After his death, like with many other artists, some people who had never contributed a drop of paint to his art got very rich off it.

As for Rembrandt and social class: like Rubens, Rembrandt lived in the time of the Low Countries’ revolt against the kings of Spain. The Spanish monarchs managed to defeat that uprising in the south, in what, roughly, is now Belgium. However, the north became the independent Dutch republic. Rembrandt lived in the bourgeois Dutch republic. Rubens in the Spanish Netherlands, ruled by princes and nobles. The differences in social context between Rembrandt and Rubens meant differences in the subjects of their art.

In the Dutch Republic, there was no monarchical court comparable to most 17th century European countries.

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.

A 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.

So, Rembrandt got most of his commissions for painting not from the Stadhouder’s court, but from bourgeois merchants, especially in Amsterdam city: the ruling class of the newly independent republic. They were as rich, or often richer, as nobles in other countries. Usually, they did not live in castles in the countryside, but in houses along canals like the Amsterdam Herengracht.

In one of the first scenes, the Rijksmuseum says they would like very much to have a painting which is now not in any of the houses to which Rembrandt sold his work, but in a big feudal castle in Scotland.

Rembrandt, Old woman reading, owned by the Duke of Buccleuch

This Rembrandt work, Old woman reading, is owned by the Duke of Buccleuch. If for some reason, the castle owners would no longer want it, then the Rijksmuseum would like very much to bring it back to the city where it was painted.

Rembrandt, Portrait of Jan Six

A Rembrandt painting which is already in Amsterdam is this portrait of the merchant and mayor Jan Six.

The Six family still owns it. In the 19th century, this originally bourgeois dynasty got the title of nobility jonkheer (baronet).

Another family who got a title of nobility then was the Rothschild family, originally bankers. In the first part of the film, Baron Éric de Rothschild was still the owner of the Rembrandt’s wedding portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit.

However, it seems that the Rothschild family is not as rich and powerful as some conspiracy theorists think, not as good in tax dodging as some other rich persons: Baron Éric de Rothschild’s brother owed debts to tax authorities. To pay these, Éric de Rothschild needed 160 million euros. The proceeds of selling his beloved portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, hanging at both sides of his bed in Paris.

Rembrandt, Portrait of Marten Soolmans

Rembrandt, Portrait of Oopjen Coppit

Éric de Rothschild does not like interviews, and the filmmaker had just one hour for talking to him. Previously, an appointment for an interview had turned out to be impossible because of a Yellow Vest demonstration in Paris.

Ms Hoogendijk also made Marten & Oopjen, a TV film about the wedding portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit.

So, these portraits cost 160 million euros. The Paris Louvre museum did not have that money. Neither had the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. But the Rijksmuseum collected money and was almost at 160 million. Then, the French government banned these two paintings from going from private property in France to public property in the Netherlands. A diplomatic conflict between the European Union member governments of France and the Netherlands was imminent. It turned out to be not as sharp a conflict as the proxy oil war between the European Union member governments of France and Italy in Libya. The Dutch government, being smaller than the French one, gave in. There was a compromise: both museums paid 80 million euros, mostly government money. And the two paintings would sometimes be together in the Louvre, sometimes together in the Rijksmuseum.

A major role in this documentary is Jan Six. Not the 17th-century Jan Six depicted by Rembrandt, but a 21st-century relative. An art historian and art dealer, that Jan Six, ‘Jan Six XI‘, used to work at Sotheby’s. He claims to have discovered two unknown works by Rembrandt. No Rembrandt painting had been rediscovered for 42 years.

Rembrandt, Let the little children come to me

This is the first one: the biblical scene about Jesus saying Let the little children come to me.

Some unknown 17th century painter had painted over the Rembrandt original, so recognizing the work as a Rembrandt was not obvious. It is probably from when Rembrandt was still young and lived in Leiden.

Rembrandt, Portrait of a young gentleman

This is the other newly discovered Rembrandt: Portrait of a Young Gentleman.

Jan Six, Rembrandt's portrait of a young gentleman

Jan Six wrote this book about it.

The discovery showed how money in art can ruin friendships. Jan Six had bought the painting for 160,000 euros on behalf of an anonymous investor from an owner who did not suspect it was a Rembrandt. Fellow art dealer Sander Bijl claimed that Six had broken an agreement to buy the painting together. The purchase also caused a conflict between Six and Rembrandt expert Ernst van de Wetering.

Van de Wetering says in the film: ‘The conflict is about money. I hate talking about money. These paintings belong to all of us!

An interesting remark on the problems of art in a world of capitalism.

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 2016 video is called The Painting Life of 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.

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.

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 a 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, his relationship to that court deteriorated. 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.