At Large  March 2, 2019  Chandra Noyes

Kicking Off the Year of Rembrandt

Rijksmuseum

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Jewish Bride, 1658

Rijksmuseum

Rembrandt, A young Rembrandt, c. 1628

There is much to celebrate about the life and work of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, the famed Dutch master. Prolific and ground-breaking in drawing, printmaking and painting, Rembrandt was adept at any of the subjects he tackled, from portraits, to still lives, landscapes and Biblical scenes. The Dutch are especially proud of their countryman, who despite never having left the Netherlands in his lifetime, has had a global influence.

This year marks the 350th anniversary of the death of Rembrandt, and museums in Holland and around the world are celebrating his life and works. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has a massive exhibition titled All the Rembrandts (on view through June 10), which showcases the entirety of their holdings, the most comprehensive collection of his work in the world. And it is an impressive collection: over 20 paintings, 60 drawings, and several hundred of the artist’s 1,300 prints will be on display. A highlight (though there are many) is The Night Watch (1642), considered by some to be his greatest work, which will be on display before beginning a lengthy and expensive restoration process starting in July.

Rijksmuseum

Rembrandt, The Night Watch or The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq, 1642. Oil on canvas.

In the fall, the Rijksmuseum continues their celebration with another blockbuster exhibition, Rembrandt-Velazquez (October 11 through January 19, 2020), in conjunction with the Museo Nacional del Prado. Comparing and contrasting these two 17th-century masters of Northern and Southern Europe is a rare opportunity.

Rijksmuseum

Rembrandt, Self-portrait with Saskia, 1636. Etching.

The Mauritshuis in the Hague has a collection of Rembrandt's to rival the Rijksmuseum’s, and it showing off their holding this year in Rembrandt and the Mauritshuis (on view through September 15), which will display all 18 of their works attributed to the master. The Rembrandt House Museum will also host a full calendar of exhibitions in the historic home of the artist.

Successful and highly collected in his lifetime, Rembrandt’s profile continues to increase, due in part to the large body of work he created. Just last year the first new Rembrandt work to be attributed to the artist in 42 years was discovered. Art dealer Jan Six XI (profiled recently in the New York Times), whose own ancestor sat for a Rembrandt portrait, recognized the master’s hand in a Christie’s auction catalogue, and purchased the work for a bargain at $173,000. He connected the portrait of an unknown man in an elaborate lace collar to other Rembrandt early works and it is now valued in the millions. (Last fall, Sotheby’s sold a lesser work, the oil sketch Portrait of God as Man, for over $12 million.)

Museums in London, Munich, and Ontario are hosting Rembrandt exhibitions as well, showing that worldwide interest in this master of light is still strong 350 years later.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is Managing Editor for Art & Object.

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