/ The Amsterdam Guide
Amsterdam — By Marianne on November 19, 2009 at 8:43 am
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Rembrandt in Amsterdam

Museum Rembrandthuis is the house where Rembrandt lived and worked from 1639 until 1656, when he went bankrupt. His painting tools, his brushes and paints lie ready to be used. It seems as if the master is still there. This was the place where Rembrandt taught and inspired young promising painters, among them Gerrit Dou, Govaert Flinck, Carel Fabritius and Aert de Gelder all became famous (and have streets named after them in Amsterdam).

It is estimated that over his entire career Rembrandt had over fifty pupils. They paid an annual fee and in return were taught the tricks of the trade by copying their master’s work.

Although Rembrandt signed his works with RHL, standing for Rembrandt Harmenszoon from Leiden, it is not always easy to establish if all RHL signed works are painted by Rembrandt. Once advanced, Rembrandt’s  pupils painted more or less free variation based on his work. This makes it difficult to decide for the experts if newly discovered works are genuine Rembrandts, even if they bear his monogram or name.  There was never any doubt about Rembrandt’s most famous work, de Nachtwacht, which is in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.


Rembrandthuis with Green and Red Shutters

When in October 2007 a painting of a laughing man signed simply RHL was auctioned, the owner and the auction house estimated its value at € 1000, because they did not recognise it as an authentic Rembrandt. However, to everyone’s surprise the picture fetched 3,1 million euros. It is a small painting, only 22×17 cm, painted mostly in dim colours. Yet, the slightly open-mouthed smile of the man radiates such purity and joy, one is apt to forget the dark surrounding. His head, framed by wavy brown shoulder-length hair, is tilted back and to the side adding a whimsical quality to his posture.

Rembrandt's newly discovered self portrait

Rembrandt's newly discovered self portrait

After scrupulous examinations by the Rembrandt Research Project the painting was pronounced to be one of the fifty-eight self-portraits by the master himself and not a painting in Rembrandt’s style made by one of his pupils. He painted it in 1627 or 1628, when he was twenty-two years of age. During the early part of his career Rembrandt studied how to depict emotions expressed in the face and posture of his models. Experts believe that seated in front of a mirror, he was his own model because the laughing man shows striking similarities with Rembrandt’s early self-portraits.

Display of paints like the ones Rembrandt used for his paintings

Display of paints like the ones Rembrandt used for his paintings

There is no doubt about it, this is a genuine Rembrandt and a true gem with an extra bonus. When the painting was being examined, X-rays and infra-red photos showed vague contours of a historical scene of persons, swords, shield, a hill and a gate. Probably study material deemed not good enough. Painting on used copper plates was common practice as materials were costly and rarely wasted.

Let’s go back to the museum. The interior is a reconstruction of Rembrandt’s house. Unable to pay his mortgage after bankruptcy, Rembrandt’s possessions were inventoried for the benefit of his creditors. This list helped to reconstruct the interior of Rembrandt’s house. Replicas of the furniture, the box bed, the objets d’arts which included coins, weapons and stuffed animals all found a place in the rooms on the first floor of the museum. The second floor contains a graphics studio for print making and served as a studio for his pupils.

WHAT: Museum Rembrandthuis
WHERE: Jodenbreestraat 4
OPENING HOURS: daily 10am – 5 pm
ENTRANCE FEE: €8, museumkaart and Iamsterdamcard free,

15 mins on foot from Centraal Station
metro: Nieuwmarkt
tram: 9 and 14 to Waterlooplein stop


Related articles:

photo credits: Rembrandthuis exterior  Allen N @flickr, paint Xavier @flickr.com, Self Portrait, wikipedia

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