Stuart Forster reports from the Late Rembrandt art exhibition in Amsterdam.
Rembrandt van Rijn is one of the Netherlands most celebrated artists. He lived from 1606 to 1669 yet it took until 2015 for an exhibition of artist’s late works to be shown in the city where he spent the majority of his adult life. The exhibition Late Rembrandt, displaying works created from 1651 onwards, was held at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
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The ninth child in a miller’s family, Rembrandt was born in Leiden, enrolling in the city’s prestigious university aged 14. He did not move to Amsterdam until he was 25. Yet ahead of other creators from a richly productive era of artistic patronage, Rembrandt is associated with the city’s Golden Age.
He married a wealthy woman, Saskia van Uylenburgh, and in 1636 the couple moved to Jodenbreestraat, today the site of the Rembrandt House Museum. He lived and worked there for two decades before being declared bankrupt.
Amsterdam’s Rembrandt House Museum
In parallel with Rijksmuseum’s exhibition, the Rembrandt House Museum is showing Rembrandt’s Late Pupils – Studying under a Genius. The exhibition examines relationships between the master artist and pupils studying under him from 1652 until his death. Sixty drawings and 20 paintings – from private collections and international museums – help elucidate the teaching methods employed by Rembrandt. His influence over young artists – including Willem Drost, Nicholaes Maes and Abraham van Dijck – also comes under scrutiny.
Of course, Rembrandt is best known for his group portrait The Night Watch, which he completed in 1642. The celebrated work is today displayed in the Rijksmuseum, hanging in a grand room that’s known as the Rembrandtzaal, in honour of its creator.
Want to see all of Rembrandt’s artworks? You may be interested in this book by Volker Manuth, ‘Rembrandt: The Complete Paintings’ (?):
Claudius Civilis at the Royal Palace
The work was hung previously in Amsterdam’s town hall on Dam Square, today the Royal Palace. During the early part of 2015 a reconstruction of Rembrandt’s painting The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis was projected onto the palace, where it was also previously displayed. The canvases of both of the vast paintings were long ago trimmed down, so the projection marks a rare opportunity to see The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis in its entirety.
The Late Rembrandt exhibition
The Late Rembrandt exhibition was developed in collaboration with the UK’s National Gallery, where it was displayed from 15 October 2014 to 18 January 2015. However, the paintings Jacob with the Angel, Portrait of Jan Six, Self-Portrait as Zeuxis Laughing and The Family Portrait are being displayed only in the Amsterdam leg of the exhibition. In total, more than 100 of Rembrandt’s paintings, drawings, etchings and prints have been brought together from art museums and international collections.
As he became older Rembrandt’s work become more introspective and his output decreased. Yet he continued to be technically innovative. Girl at a Window, painted in 1651, utilises broad brush strokes – a technique that preempts a facet of Impressionism, the school which evolved more than two centuries later.
In painting the sleeve of Lucretia, on loan from Minneapolis Institute of Art, Rembrandt applied overlapping layers of paint with a palette knife. Today there is nothing remarkable about using a knife but Rembrandt, remarkably, was the first artist to paint in such a manner.
Keen to view artworks which were displayed at the Late Rembrandt art exhibition in Amsterdam? The National Gallery, in London, published ‘Rembrandt: The Late Works’ (£):
Rembrandt’s innovation and etching
The exhibition has ten themed areas, including Experimental Technique, Self-portraits and Intimacy. Works such as The Jewish Bride, Young Woman Sleeping and The Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild are celebrated for their intimacy.
Rembrandt rejected the accepted conventions of beauty and ugliness. He painted and sketched from life, resulting in works depicting an older woman at her bath, the execution of a criminal and the dissection of a criminal’s brain. There’s realism in his works unlike few artists of his time.
The interplay of light and shadow in a number of his etchings evoke a masterful plasticity. Even in this area, Rembrandt was innovative, developing the dry-point technique of etching.
The exhibitions close on 17 May 2015. If you visit Amsterdam after that date you can see works by Rembrandt on display in the Rijksmuseum (Museumstraat 1) and the Rembrandt House Museum (Jodenbreestraat 4)
Combine a boat tour with an introduction to places associated with artist as part of the Rembrandt Canal Cruise (Blue Boat Company, tel +31 (0)20 6791370).
If you enjoy walking why not follow the Rembrandt in Amsterdam walking tour, a guided tour of places in the city where he lived and worked, plus the Wersterkerk (West Church) where he is buried.
If you enjoyed this post on the Late Rembrandt art exhibition in Amsterdam you may want to read this article about celebrating the Dutch Golden Age.
Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.
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