31 October 2019

Museum De Lakenhal opens Young Rembrandt - Rising Star exhibition

The Young Rembrandt, Rising Star exhibition will open in Museum De Lakenhal on 2 November. The exhibition is the finale to the national ‘Rembrandt and the Golden Age’ theme year and sees the return of works painted almost 400 years ago to the birthplace of this now world-famous painter, in Leiden, the Netherlands. The exhibition features over 40 paintings, 70 etchings and 10 drawings, including a number of works that have never been seen before.

In addition to the regular museum entrance fee, there is a surcharge (€ 7,50) for the exhibition.

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From experiments to masterpieces

This is the first retrospective devoted exclusively to the earliest work of Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669). Young Rembrandt will allow visitors to look over the young painter’s shoulder and see how his talent developed and flourished. Apart from work by Rembrandt, there will also be work by Jacob van Swanenburg, Jan Lievens, Pieter Lastman and Gerrit Dou.

Rapid development of exceptional talent

The Young Rembrandt - Rising Star exhibition reveals how Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn’s exceptional talent developed in the decade from 1624 to 1634. Rembrandt’s work, including work from his first ten years as a painter, is testimony to an exceptional talent. The rapid and spectacular development of his talent is reflected in his work from the first years of his career as an artist. He was a true innovator. He never chose to follow paths that had already been explored and continued to search tirelessly for new insights and possibilities. He was a full-blooded explorer and innovator. During these first ten years, Rembrandt laid the foundations for his later work. This led to Rembrandt’s great fame and contributed enormously to the character of Dutch seventeenth-century painting.

Unique paintings

The fact that Rembrandt’s first work looks somewhat awkward is clearly visible in Spectacles Seller from 1624, which is the painter’s earliest known work. However, his progress in his History piece painted two years later is undeniable. The painting, which is often seen as its pendant, will be reunited for the first time with The Stoning of Stefanus (1625) from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon.

The intriguing canvas entitled Let the little children come to me, which was identified in 2014 as Rembrandt’s early work, will be shown to visitors for the first time. Rembrandt experimented interruptedly with new subjects and artistic challenges, such as clair-obscur. His Self-portrait from 1628 with a daring cast shadow over his own face is the best example of this.

The actual breakthrough came with the visit of Constantijn Huygens who considered Rembrandt’s piece The Repentance of Judas (ca. 1629) to be one of the best masterpieces that he had ever seen. Rembrandt subsequently painted his masterly Christ at Emmaus (ca. 1629), which is distinguished by the extremely bold contrasts between light and dark. On Huygens’s recommendation, Stadholder Frederik Hendrik ordered several works by Rembrandt, including the spectacular The Abduction of Proserpina (ca. 1630-1631) (from the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin) and The Abduction of Europa (1632) from the Getty Museum, which will now be exhibited in Europe for the first time together. A golden future presented itself. In 1631 Rembrandt left for Amsterdam, where he opened a new workshop at the home of art dealer Hendrick van Uylenburgh. Of the countless portrait assignments, the Portrait of an 83-Year-Old Woman (1634) is one of the most impressive.

Rembrandt’s growing self-confidence and skill resulted in the monumental canvas that enjoys fame under the title The Noble Slav (1632) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The old workshop in Leiden continued to be used by Gerrit Dou for several more years. The working relationship between Rembrandt and his master student resulted in masterpieces such as the Prince Rupert of the Palatinate with his Tutor (ca 1631) from the Getty Museum. The marriage of Rembrandt to Saskia van Uylenburgh in 1634, and the opening of an independent workshop on the Breestraat in Amsterdam, brought an end to those first ten years of struggle and experiment. His Self-Portrait with Plumed Cap (1634) expresses the self-confidence with which the artist – rightly – looked towards his great future.


The exhibition has been organised in collaboration with the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, one of the most important museums in the United Kingdom. The exhibition has been made possible thanks to the financial support of the Blockbusterfonds, Mondriaan Fonds, Fonds 21, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Turing Foundation, BankGiro Loterij, Hizkia Van Kralingen official carrier, Stichting Dorodarte and the M.A.O.C. Gravin van Bylandt Stichting.

For more information, not for publication:

Astrid Jacobs, Head of public- and commercial affairs | 06 40 35 54 02 | a.jacobs@lakenhal.nl