From 12 February to 16 May, the Rembrandt House Museum is staging an exhibition about life drawing in Rembrandt’s day. Based on new research, Rembrandt’s Naked Truth will provide insight into how nude models were drawn in the Golden Age. It will be the first time that an exhibition has focused on the uncompromising way Rembrandt drew his nudes.
In the seventeenth century Rembrandt and his pupils joined in the new trend of life drawing, but his approach differed from that of his contemporaries. Rembrandt presented reality, refusing to conform to the accepted ideal of beauty, a stance that was to bring severe criticism down on his head. The use of nude models prompted a discussion about art, beauty and transience, subjects that were as sensitive then as they are now.
Rembrandt’s Naked Truth will feature more than fifty paintings, drawings, sketches and books from European and American public and private collections, along with a selection of Rembrandt’s etchings from the Rembrandt House Museum’s own collection. The drawn nude studies, such as Rembrandt’s Seated Nude from The Art Institute in Chicago, are extremely rare.
Nothing to Hide
Artists began drawing live models during the Renaissance, although it was some time before they included nudes. Female nude models came later. In Rembrandt’s workshop his pupils often posed nude for one another, but prostitutes were used for female nudes. Rembrandt portrayed his models as they were, nothing hidden and nothing spared. He showed their drooping breasts, wrinkles, sagging bellies and pockmarked thighs, and went his own way, at odds with the prevailing fashion.
Carla van de Puttelaar
The Rembrandt House approached the Dutch photographer Carla van de Puttelaar to collaborate on creating a link with contemporary art. Van de Puttelaar, who specializes in portrait photography, is known for her unusual Rembrandtesque approach to nude photography. It is reflected in her use of chiaroscuro, with the female body occupying centre stage, hiding nothing. In the spring of 2015 Carla’s early work featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. She will be showing a collection of her photographs inspired by Rembrandt’s Naked Truth in the Rembrandt House auditorium.
Rembrandt’s Naked Truth is the second in a series of three exhibitions devoted to Rembrandt’s training methods. The first, Rembrandt’s Late Pupils, was staged in the spring of 2015. The third, about Rembrandt’s pupils Govaert Flinck and Ferdinand Bol, is planned for 2017. Rembrandt’s Naked Truth offers new insights into the unique teaching approach of the Netherlands’ most famous artist.
Published by W-Books.
Rembrandt’s Naked Truth is made possible in part by contributions from the Mondriaan Fund, the Turing Foundation, Fonds 21 and De Gijzelaar-Hintzenfonds.
The Rembrandt House Museum receives a substantial contribution from Amsterdam City Council.