Museum De Lakenhal presents: Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden Age

20 June 2019 – 3 october 2019

The theme year ‘Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age’ is in full swing. Two paintings by Rembrandt are on display alongside works by famous contemporaries from our own collection, such as Jan Lievens, Jan van Goyen, Jan Steen and Gerrit Dou. The two works from Rembrandt van Rijn’s early years are ‘The Spectacle-Pedlar’ (circa 1624), the earliest known painting by the master that was purchased only a few years ago, and ‘History Painting’ (1626), which was restored in the Rijksmuseum last year.

Leiden as birthplace of the Dutch 17th Century

Early 17th century Leiden was the workplace of diverse painters, each of which would prove to be of crucial significance to Dutch 17th century 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.

Jonge Rembrandt - Rising Star

On 1 November 2019, the exhibition ‘Young Rembrandt - The Rising Star’ will start. It will include well-known and newly discovered masterpieces from museums all over the world, such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin and the National Gallery in London.

View on Leiden, 1650
View on Leiden, 1650 Jan van Goyen
Vanitas still life with a self-portrait of the young painter, 1651
Vanitas still life with a self-portrait of the young painter, 1651 David Bailly

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.

The Astronomer, ca. 1650
The Astronomer, ca. 1650 Gerrit Dou
A Peddler Selling Spectacles, ca. 1624
A Peddler Selling Spectacles, ca. 1624 Rembrandt van Rijn

Late 17th century

Leiden paintings of the late 17th century 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 17th century 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. rembrandt-2019.nl

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