There are now more than a thousand paintings associated in one way or another with Rembrandt’s name
Rembrandt’s painting factory
Rembrandt did not settle for working with beginning apprentices but usually took on accomplished painters who could immediately hold their own in the production process. Sometimes, their work was so good that it could easily pass for a genuine Rembrandt. One of these excellent painters was Govaert Flinck. A total of 55 pupils of Rembrandt have been identified, but there were probably many more. And they really churned out the work. There are now at least a thousand paintings associated in one way or another with Rembrandt’s name.
Putting the science of physics to useA hundred years ago, it was only the connoisseur who could determine whether a painting was a genuine Rembrandt or not. Today, we are assisted by various ultra-modern techniques such as X-ray radiography and infrared reflectography. Infrared and X-ray supplement each other. Unlike infrared, X-ray cannot visualise carbon. This makes infrared a suitable choice for revealing a possible signature. X-ray, however, is better at revealing a painting beneath a painting, assessing the condition of the support, and tracing previous restorations. By applying these technologies, we know that the master had sometimes tinkered quite a bit with the paintings he completed later in his career. The painting of Bathsheba is one such example. X-ray scans reveal that Rembrandt had originally wanted to paint the woman with a raised head and a startled expression on her face. Ultimately, he painted a woman in which we see only her inner turmoil.
Rembrandt’s pursuit of the right composition for ‘The Syndics’
This pursuit of the right composition for The Syndics (1662) is quite obvious. The figure that posed the biggest problem for Rembrandt was the servant, Frans Hendricksz Bel. He was placed in at least three different positions in the painting before receiving his current position behind the two syndics in the middle of the composition. By applying modern technology, it is clear that the figure of Bel had already been painted over in two of his initial locations in the painting – at the far right and between the two syndics on the right. Ultimately, he was given a new location higher on the painting.
On display at the ‘Late Rembrandt’ exhibition will be more than a hundred works created during the last phase of Rembrandt’s life. To get you in the mood, here are twelve works included in this spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime exhibition.
The Syndics, 1662
A meeting of five important inspectors of the Amsterdam drapers’ guild behind a table. Rembrandt turned this meeting into a visually exciting scene.Read more
Self Portrait with Two Circles, ca. 1665-1669
Rembrandt made many self-portraits during his career. What makes this one so notable is his ruthless honesty in portraying himself.Read more
Bathsheba with King David’s Letter, 1654
This is one of the most famous paintings hanging in Louvre. Here we see a beautiful young woman bathing. She has just read a letter and now finds herself in a dilemma.Read more
The Jewish Bride, ca. 1665
What you immediately notice about this large painting is Rembrandt’s rough application of paint. In this work, Rembrandt broke with all conventions of the day by smeering on and scratching through the paint.Read more
The Family Portrait, ca. 1665
‘The Family Portrait’ has not travelled since 1956. Just for this once, it is on loan to the Rijksmuseum especially for this exhibtion.Read more
A Woman bathing in a Stream, 1654
Here we see an alluring woman wading through the water while slowly lifting the hem of her dress. But who is this beauty?Read more
Recumbent Lion, ca. 1660-1665
Rembrandt preferred to draw lifelike representations of things he saw around him in real life. This lion is a good example.Read more
A Young Woman sleeping, ca. 1654
This drawing of a woman taking a quick nap is very typical of Rembrandt: an artist who was always recording the little scenes in his everyday life.Read more
Jacob blessing the sons of Joseph, 1656
When painting this Biblical story about Jacob, Rembrandt chose an unexpected moment that must have been a surprising choice for viewers of his day.Read more
Titus at his Desk, 1655
Rembrandt made clever use of painting techniques to evoke a sense of endearment when viewing this work in which we can recognise his own son.Read more
The conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis, ca. 1661-1662
In this painting, Rembrandt made use of a clever and entirely new technique to tell a story.Read more
Portrait of Frederick Rihel on Horseback, ca. 1663
As an artist, Rembrandt was familiar with the rules of portraiture but he pushed the boundaries whenever possible.Read more