Now on view
NEWS | New discovery in Rembrandt research: Pots found in Rembrandt’s cesspit prove to be true Rembrandt relics. The Rembrandt House Museum will present this new discovery in the exhibition Rembrandt Laboratory: Rembrandt’s Technique Unravelled from 21 September 2019. Read the full press release about this news here.
On view from 21 September
Rembrandt’s Technique Unravelled
21 September 2019 – 16 February 2020
How did Rembrandt make his paintings, etchings and drawings? And how do we investigate that today? In the autumn of 2019 we will be creating a laboratory setting in the museum that will reveal new insights about various paintings, discoveries from his cesspit, and his prints and drawings. In Rembrandt Laboratory: Rembrandt’s Technique Unravelled visitors will step into the scientists’ shoes. Think about the dilemmas faced by researchers and restorers in the place where Rembrandt made his works of art almost four hundred years ago.
In recent years researchers have subjected various artworks by Rembrandt to the latest methods, including Macro X-Ray Fluorescence, or macro-XRF for short. We can use it to look right into the paint in Rembrandt’s paintings and record things like changes that he made as he painted. Pigments we did not know Rembrandt used have also been found in this way. His drawings have recently been examined with this method to establish which inks he used. This interactive exhibition brings the scientific analysis of materials and techniques to life for adults and children from the age of six, thanks to the special Rembrandt Junior Lab Route—art meets science.
‘We are discovering more and more secrets about Rembrandt’s technique and this is bringing us ever closer to the artist. Modern technology lets us see what choices he made while he was making a painting, print or drawing, and what he changed again. There can be no better venue for an exhibition on this subject than the house where Rembrandt created his masterpieces. The collaboration between experts in different disciplines—art historians, historians, chemists and IT specialists is fascinating to watch. In the Rembrandt Laboratory you will get to know these researchers and look over their shoulders.’
– Leonore van Sloten, Curator of The Rembrandt House Museum
This exhibition is being staged in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, the Cultural Agency of the Netherlands | Rijkserfgoed Laboratory, the University of Amsterdam and Delft Technical University (together united in NICAS), the Monuments and Archaeology Department of Amsterdam City Council, the RKD Institute for Art History, the Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings Project (WIRE) and independent researchers.
Left: Rembrandt, Portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, 1634. Rijksmuseum Collection/ Musée du Louvre Collection [seen as a reproduction in the exhibition] | Right: Macro X-Ray Fluorescence (MA-XRF) scan of Rembrandt’s portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, 1634. Image: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Peek under Marten and Oopjen: Rembrandt’s average workday and a recently discovered pigment
There are three sections in the exhibition: ‘Hidden Ingredients’, ‘Rembrandt Mysteries’ and ‘Rembrandt at Work’. In each part visitors will be presented with a number of ongoing areas of research, and will have a chance to think about the outcomes. Six cases with different research questions will be highlighted, accompanied by surprising new insights. A peek behind the curtain:
They are world famous: Marten and Oopjen, full-length portraits painted by Rembrandt in 1634 (Rijksmuseum Collection and Musée du Louvre). But what is under the surface of these paintings? In Rembrandt Laboratory the research results will be shown to a wide public for the first time using life-sized reproductions and scans of the canvases.
Can we find out what a painting day was like for Rembrandt? Thanks to XRF data, we can now see how he changed his painting of The Man in the Red Cap of c. 1660 (Museum Boijmans van Beuningen Collection) and which paint stems from the same painting phase. The original painting will be shown in the exhibition along with an impressive digital impression of this possible ‘giornate’.
A new (highly toxic) pigment has been discovered in Rembrandt’s work. This has expanded the artist’s colour palette. We can only link the pigment to two paintings, including one of the artist’s most famous masterpieces. The pigment changes colour over time, which helps explain why it was not noticed before. In the exhibition you will see how it was discovered with the aid of microscopes and a reproduction with an inbuilt touchscreen.
Left: Rembrandt (attributed), The Man in the Red Cap, c. 1660, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam. | Middle: Rembrandt, Young Woman Sitting by a Window (Saskia?), c. 1638. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam | Right: False colour image of the iron, calcium and sulphur maps (Macro X-Ray Fluorescence) of Rembrandt’s drawing of a young woman sitting by a window of c. 1638, Rijksmuseum Collection, Amsterdam. Image: Frank Ligterink (Drawing out Rembrandt research team)
Specially for Young Researchers
In this exhibition you don’t just look with your eyes, you can use your hands tool! Every young visitor from the age of six will be given a special clipboard with a research kit when they come into the museum. You can go and do research in the exhibition yourself by answering questions and carrying out tasks. In twelve places you will find a ‘Rembrandt Junior Lab’ logo, where there is something to do, look at or learn.
For instance in the section about Rembrandt’s etchings you will find the question: ‘Did Rembrandt make this etching?’ You digitally hunt through different watermarks to find out if there is a match with the watermark you see in front of you. This means you can find out which year the paper was made and whether Rembrandt could have printed on it. In the section about Rembrandt’s drawings you can draw on a magic drawing board with a quill pen: how many different line thicknesses can you make made with it? With the aid of UV light you can see ‘what we overlook’: discover what you can’t see in a drawing with the naked eye, but is actually there!
The Rembrandt Laboratory: Rembrandt’s Technique Unravelled runs from 21 September 2019 to 16 February 2020 in The Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam.
Exhibition design by: Trapped in Suburbia.
[Information for the press: for press images click here].
Allium & Onion, Hennep & Hair, Madder & Nettle
1 October 2019 – 16 February 2020
Modern artist Claudy Jongstra went in search of Rembrandt’s black. She followed the old paint recipe with some natural dyes and pigments and used them in a fabric diptych: Allium & Onion, Hemp & Hair, Madder & Nettle. She based her work on three natural local materials: flax, hemp and nettles. The flax plant is the source of both the canvas and the linseed oil that Rembrandt used in his oil paint. This art installation made of felt hangs like a curtain in front of the two windows in Rembrandt’s former living room and bedroom in the Rembrandt House Museum.
Jongstra’s diptych not only has different shades of black, but also colour accents she embroidered on the felted canvas. She drew her inspiration for these from the colours of Rembrandt’s most famous diptych: his pendant portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. Jongstra’s art installation is a textile and abstract version of the paintings, which can be seen in reproductions in the Rembrandt Laboratory exhibition in the museum’s modern wing. Claudy Jongstra’s diptych can be seen in The Rembrandt House Museum until 16 February 2020.
The relationship with Rembrandt’s most famous diptych
The great source of inspiration for this work is Rembrandt’s celebrated diptych, the 1632 Marriage Portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit (Rijksmuseum Collection/ Musée du Louvre Collection). Black plays an important role in both of them; Marten wears an expensive black satin costume, while Oopjen is dressed in a black silk summer gown with buttons and a black cap on her head. In the background of the portrait of Oopjen there is a large black curtain.
The recent results of the research into the portraits of Marten and Oopjen can be seen in the museum’s modern wing along with Jongstra’s art installation. In the Rembrandt Laboratory exhibition you can see what was found under the top layer of paint in Rembrandt’s portraits in a full-size reproduction.
Studio Claudy Jongstra
Claudy Jongstra (born 1963) is known worldwide for her monumental artworks of felted wool and silk, dyed with natural pigments, which are usually to be found in public buildings. Her oeuvre also contains smaller artworks, which feature in museums throughout the world and in private and corporate collections. Her work is deeply rooted in the Dutch landscape: her studio is in the Frisian countryside.
In her work different layers of felt and fabrics are further defined by subtle embroidery which gives the artwork a sculptural quality. The layered complexity of the coloured threads is also linked to the bond that Jongstra feels with the connecting and healing powers of weaving, felting and embroidering – an old practice. In this combined work tacit knowledge is handed down from generation to generation, and valuable old crafts are kept alive.
Claudy Jongstra’s diptych can be seen in The Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam from 1 October 2019 to 16 February 2020.
[Information for the press: for press images click here].
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