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

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:, then at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, May 21-July 17, opening times:

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,

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.

Rembrandt, portraits and theatre

This 2011 video is called Rembrandt van Rijn – De Nachtwacht (BBC).

The celebration of Rembrandt’s birthday continued after the artists participating in the contest had been awarded their prizes.

There was a theatre play. It was a parody of a Dutch TV show, in which art experts discuss objects brought by people who discovered them on attics etc. In the second act, Rembrandt himself came with a self-portrait. The TV art “expert” did not recognize it as a Rembrandt, and thought it might be worth 100 euro.

Then, there was a lecture by art historian Els de Baan about portraits in the age of Rembrandt. On many of these portraits, especially women have handkerchief-like pieces of cloth in their hands. These were not handkerchiefs for wiping one’s nose; they were more like status symbols.

Rembrandt’s birthday, 2013 artists’ prizes

This video is called RembrandtPrivate life of a Masterpiece (the Night Watch painting).

After her introduction at the celebration of Rembrandt’s birthday, art historian Lisette LeBlanc had not finished yet.

Her next task was to announce which artists had won prizes in the painting contest, part of the celebration.

The theme of the contest based itself on sixteenth century author about art Karel van Mander. Van Mander wrote there were two ways of painting: broad-brush, or with extreme attention to detail. Rembrandt could combine both well.

48 works of art participated in the contest.

A special prize went to Wim Kuin and Gideon Roggeveen for an installation.

Then, the second prize. It consisted of the right to have a solo exhibition in Diana Lepelaar gallery, and a book about Rembrandt. It went to Nicolette Benard, for her painting about pearls.

The first prize was for Els Hoonhout, for her Thee Roos. It was the right to have a solo exhibition in Diana Lepelaar gallery, a book about Rembrandt, and 500 euro.

Rembrandt’s birthday celebrated

This video is called REMBRANDT – Master of Light & Shadow.

Like happened also last year, in the night of 14 -15 July 2013, the birth of famous Dutch painter Rembrandt was celebrated in Leiden, his native city.

To be more precise, in the Haagweg 4 building, where many artists of today work. That is only a few hundred meters away from the place where Rembrandt was born on 15 July 1606.

First, there was an introduction about Rembrandt, by art historian Lisette LeBlanc.

She mentioned that Rembrandt’s talents were discovered at a young age. One of the early admirers of the painter was Constantijn Huygens, the secretary of Prince Frederik Hendrik, “stadtholder” of Holland and other Dutch provinces, and absolute monarch of the principality Orange in southern France.

Let me give some historical background. So, Frederik Hendrik’s dynasty were unquestionably the rulers in Orange. Not so in the young Dutch republic, still fighting for independence from the Habsburg kings and emperors. The princely dynasty did not like their lack of power in the Dutch republic, compared to Orange. Often, the, mainly bourgeois, representatives of the provinces were more powerful than the stadtholders. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this led to many conflicts. Sometimes, to civil wars. Sometimes, to abolition of the profession of stadtholder.

Constantijn Huygens gave Rembrandt an opportunity to paint at the court in The Hague of Prince Frederik Hendrik. However, the prince’s wife did not like Rembrandt’s too realistic portrait of her. Rembrandt went on to paint, not at the aristocratic court in The Hague, but in bourgeois Amsterdam.

Lisette LeBlanc pointed out that Rembrandt differed from most painters in other European countries then, in living in a country where bourgeois ruled, not monarchs and/or feudal aristocrats. I have discussed the consequences of Rembrandt’s peculiarity, both in living in a revolutionary republic and in his individuality, for his art, if compared to, eg, Rubens’ art, here. Ms LeBlanc noted that Rembrandt sometimes broke established rules of how painters were supposed to work.

Lisette LeBlanc also mentioned that Constantijn Huygens told Rembrandt to travel to Italy. In conventional thinking on art then, all painters should go to Italy in order to become better artists. However, Rembrandt was a unconvential thinker. He told Huygens he was too busy for a journey to Italy. Dutch merchants and other people wanted him to paint their portraits. And to see an Italian artist like Caravaggio, an influence on Rembrandt’s painting of light and darkness, he did not need to travel that far. Work by Caravaggio was at Amsterdam art dealers’.

I might remark here that, instead of Rembrandt going to Italy, Italians eventually came to Rembrandt, from Genoa, to ask for his paintings in preference to their compatriots’ works.

Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, also went to Rembrandt in Amsterdam, to ask him to paint a portrait of His Grace. The Medici rulers’ employee, Filippo Baldinucci, wrote enthusiastically on Rembrandt; though, as a supporter of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation, he probably would not have liked Rembrandt’s liberal Protestantism.

Cosimo III’s family had not always been Grand Dukes. In the middle ages, they were medics in Florence city. Then, they became rich bankers and powerful politicians. The rise of city republics like Florence was a powerful boost to Italy as a center in economics and art during the Renaissance.

By the time of Rembrandt and Grand Duke Cosimo III, this central position had shifted away from Italy. When Cosimo III died, his Grand Dukedom was broke. Italy was a patchwork of territories of the pope of Rome, of other feudal rulers, and a few rather small republics. The Medici family were no longer bourgeois, but had found a niche in the feudal hierarchy. Catherine de’ Medici had married into the French royal family, becoming queen. Catherine’s relative, Maria de Medici, later also became queen of France. In spite of her by now Grand Ducal family, some French court nobles considered Maria an upstart, calling her “a fat banker’s daughter”.

The city republics of Venice and Genoa had lost their positions in transit trade between Europe and Asia after the discovery of Cape of Good Hope and the Americas. The established monarchical order did not see them as threats; contrary to the Dutch republic and the English republic of the 1640s-1650s.

Lisette LeBlanc continued that Rembrandt refused to go to Italy; but that did not mean that he rejected Italian Renaissance and later art. On the contrary, she said. Besides Caravaggio, Raphael was another influence. Rembrandt’s full name was Rembrandt van Rijn. However, he did not sign with his full name; only with his first name Rembrandt. This was inspired, according to Ms LeBlanc, by Italian artist Michelangelo, who also did not sign as Michelangelo Buoanarroti Simoni.

This video is called The Divine Michelangelo – Part 1 of 2 (2004) – David, Sistine Chapel.

Rembrandt, Lisette LeBlanc continued, had financial problems. Very unlike Vincent van Gogh later, not because of difficulty in selling paintings; but because he bought precious cloth, exotic seashells, etc. to figure in his work. He was generous in letting other artists borrow his utensils.

Before Rembrandt, etching was considered inferior to painting. One of the rules which Rembrandt challenged.

After Ms LeBlanc’s lecture, the celebration continued; so, stay tuned.

Google Doodle celebrates Rembrandt’s birthday: here.

Rembrandt exhibition in London

This video is called BBC Fine Art Collection 3 of 7 – Rembrandt by himself.

From Prensa Latina news agency:

Rembrandt Show for London National Gallery in 2014

London, 11 July – An exhibition examining Rembrandt’s later works is set to open at the National Gallery in London next year.

Rembrandt: The Final Years will feature around 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints by the Dutch master.

In collaboration with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the exhibition will also include key works on loan from other European and American museums.

The show will run in London from 15 October 2014 to 18 January 2015 and in Amsterdam from February 2015.

The gallery said the exhibition would highlight the “inspired unprecedented creativity” of the artist’s later years.

“Soulful, honest and deeply moving, in many ways it is the art of these late years that indelibly defines our image of Rembrandt the man and the artist,” it said.

Betsy Wieseman, the gallery’s curator of Dutch and Flemish paintings, said: “As a mature artist he felt himself less bound by conventions and more willing to take artistic and iconographic risks – to venture into areas that other artists weren’t willing to go.”

The Rembrandt exhibition is one of five new shows planned for the National Gallery for 2014.


See also here. And here.

‘New’ Rembrandt self-portrait discovery

The newly discovered Rembrandt self-portrait is inspected by the curator David Taylor at Buckland Abbey. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Self-portrait bequeathed to National Trust is identified as lost Rembrandt

Painting of artist, worth up to £20m, was thought to be later copy

Maev Kennedy

Monday 18 March 2013

A portrait of a man with a wry expression and an absurd hat, bequeathed to the National Trust as a good but anonymous and relatively low-value 17th-century painting, has been identified as a self-portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn worth up to £20m – though the trust has said it will never be sold.

Despite being signed by Rembrandt and dated 1635, when he was 29, the painting was thought to be a later copy, or at best the work of a pupil.

If the identification – confidently made by an internationally renowned expert on the Dutch artist – is upheld, the painting now hanging in the dining room of Sir Francis Drake’s old home, Buckland Abbey in Devon, will be the only Rembrandt among the 13,500 paintings the trust owns or cares for.

In 2010 the trust was given the painting from the estate of the late Edna, Lady Samuel of Wych Cross, the widow of a West Country property developer who was also a renowned art collector, but it spent almost two years in storage.

It was not seen as a painting of such importance that it should go on instant display, even though it had an illustrious pedigree, with previous owners including such famed art collectors as the princes of Liechtenstein.

Eventually the pictures in the dining room at Buckland Abbey were rearranged to make way for the man in the flamboyant cloak, where it was recently examined by Ernst van de Wetering, a Dutch art historian and chair of the Rembrandt Research Project, the Netherlands-based organisation which is the acknowledged authority on his work, and rules on the rival claims of hundreds of paintings across the world.

Rembrandt is often hard to identify because he was frequently short of money – and eventually bankrupt – and took in many pupils and studio assistants, and was so renowned that he was copied even in his own lifetime and ever since.

Although further research will be carried out next winter, when the painting will be cleaned and x-rayed, studied by infra-red light, and the pigments and materials analysed in microscopic detail – the £20,000 cost will be funded by the People’s Postcode charity lottery – Van de Wetering is convinced it is genuine. The research project last looked at the picture in 1968, and concluded it was probably the work of the artist’s pupils.

“Over the past 45 years we have gathered far more knowledge about Rembrandt’s self-portraits and the fluctuations in his style,” Van de Wetering said. “In 2005 I published an analysis of the genesis of the painting on the basis of an x-ray. This analysis and newly found circumstantial evidence remarkably increased the likelihood that the painting was by Rembrandt himself. But, to be sure, I had to see the painting again for myself.”

David Taylor, the curator of paintings and sculpture at the National Trust, said the new identification was “incredibly exciting”, and added: “This portrait is now one of our most important works of art.”

Buckland Abbey, a former medieval Cistercian abbey, was the home of Drake, the sailor who circumnavigated the globe and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I. It was given to the National Trust in 1946. It still has many objects associated with Drake, including a famous drum said to have gone round the world with him and to be heard beating again when England is in danger, but the house had lost a famous collection of old master paintings.

The newly recognised portrait will remain on display for the 2013 season, before being returned to the experts next winter.

Dutch antiquities museum on the Internet

This video says about itself:

Exploring the Rijksmuseum with Google Art Project [1080p HD]

A walk through the famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Among its collection are many works of Rembrandt, including the Nachtwacht (Night Watch).

You can explore the Rijksmuseum with Google Art Project here:

The music is “The XX – Intro”.

The Google Art Project shows art objects from museums in various countries in the world on the Internet.

Recently, the Dutch Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden joined this project.

This allows a close look for internauts at 273 objects of the collection of that museum.