In the City’s Creative Hotspot
On arriving in Amsterdam, Rembrandt lodged with Hendrick Uylenburgh (c. 1587 – 1661). The famous art dealer’s house was on the corner of Sint Antoniesbreestraat and Zwanenburgwal, next door to the present Rembrandt House. On that spot, now number 2 Jodenbreestraat, there is a building dating from 1889 that houses The Rembrandt Corner café. Many other artists lived in the neighbourhood, among them Cornelis van der Voort, Nicolaes Eliasz. Pickenoy, Jan Tengnagel and the history painter Pieter Lastman, with whom Rembrandt had studied for six months when he was nineteen.
Hendrick Uylenburgh was one of the major art dealers of his time. Next door to what is now the Rembrandt House he had a famous painters’ workshop, which Rembrandt ran. Through Uylenburgh, Rembrandt met other artists and well-to-do citizens who commissioned paintings from him. In those years his output of paintings, portraits in particular, grew rapidly. His prints featured new subjects, intimate domestic scenes and Bible stories, and became more expressive in style. It was while he was with Uylenburgh that Rembrandt met his future wife Saskia, Uylenburgh’s cousin. A year after Rembrandt met Saskia, his close working relationship with the art dealer came to an end. During that year Rembrandt moved into a fine rented house in Nieuwe Doelenstraat.
The Luxury of 20 Nieuwe Doelenstraat
In Rembrandt’s day there were two brand-new buildings side by side roughly on the spot now occupied by ‘De Jaren’, a popular café restaurant. They were built for the patrician Willem Boreel. He moved into the house on the left and rented the other to Rembrandt and Saskia. The newlyweds lived there for two years, from 1635 to 1637. Like others in the immediate environment, Nieuwe Doelenstraat was a fashionable street, popular with the wealthy. A portrait painter had no trouble finding potential clients. Rembrandt only lived there for a short while, probably because the space he had to work in was too small.
A Larger Workshop in Zwanenburgerstraat
After two years in Nieuwe Doelenstraat the couple moved to a house in Zwanenburgerstraat, in the middle of the Jewish quarter. This street disappeared in the 1980s when Amsterdam’s town hall and opera house, the Stopera, was built.
In the Smart Set at 4 Jodenbreestraat
In January 1639, in his early thirties and now a celebrated artist, Rembrandt bought the magnificent merchant’s house in Sint Antoniesbreestraat, the present-day Rembrandt House. He lived and worked there for almost twenty years. The house was built in 1606, the year Rembrandt was born, in Breestraat, the widest street in a new eastern part of the city. Around 1627 the building was renovated, probably by Jacob van Campen, later primarily known as the architect who designed the then new town hall, now the Royal Palace in Dam Square. Rembrandt bought the house for the then enormous sum of 13,000 guilders, to be paid in instalments.