20 January 2024 until 30 March 2025

Rembrandts Four Senses – His First Paintings

For the first time together in Leiden

Museum De Lakenhal is celebrating its anniversary! In 2024, the museum will be 150 years old. We are celebrating that milestone with the presentation Rembrandt's Four Senses – His First Paintings. Rembrandt created this series of paintings, comprising his earliest known work, when he was around 18 years old and living in Leiden. In addition to the Spectacles Seller (Allegory of Sight) from our own collection, the presentation features three works from The Leiden Collection, New York: Stone Operation (Allegory of Touch), Three Musicians (Allegory of Hearing) and Unconscious Patient (Allegory of Smell). The four paintings will be on display in the museum till 30 March 2025.

Paragon of experiment

In this series, Rembrandt creates variations on a classical theme in the arts. Particularly since the 16th century, the senses tended to be personified in art by elegant female figures, accompanied by fixed attributes. Rembrandt, however, favoured a different approach by opting for everyday scenes with which anyone could identity.

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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Spectacles Seller, c. 1624-1625

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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Three Musicians (Allegory of Hearing), c. 1624-1625

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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Stone Operation (Allegory of Touch), c. 1624-1625

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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Unconscious Patient (Allegory of Smell), c. 1624-1625

Master in the making

The works do evince the emergence of precisely those qualities that in time would turn Rembrandt into such an innovative and celebrated painter: among others, his singular use of chiaroscuro, his bold brushwork, and his unique eye for interaction between everyday people through an uncanny ability to capture their typical, characteristic expressions.

For the first time together in Leiden

The reunion of Rembrandt’s Senses in the very city of their creation is a first, both for Leiden and for Museum De Lakenhal. They will be on display at the very heart of the permanent collection, surrounded by other works produced by the young Rembrandt, alongside several paintings by his friend and rival Jan Lievens as well as his star pupil Gerrit Dou.

Photo: Joep Jacobs


Exhibition curator: Janneke van Asperen
Lender: New York, The Leiden Collection
Design: Karen Polder
Graphic production: Verver Reclame, Gobo Image
English translation: Annabel Howland, Vertaalbureau Bothof
Publicity: Coebergh Communicatie & PR

This presentation received support from the Dutch government through an indemnity grant from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands on behalf of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science.