Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Amsterdam Journal: Het Rembranthuis

photograph by Francis Levy
Rembrandt was foreclosed on the house he bought on Jordenbreestraat 4 for 13,000 guilders. Today the premises have been preserved as a museum. He lived there from 1639-58 with his wife Saskia who died soon after the birth of his son Titus. He'd been doing pretty well to buy that place since the average working man at the time only made about 300 guilders a year. When you visit the house today you can see the etching studio where he employed his genius for spontaneous chiascuoro drawing, his two painting studios with their Northern light where he mixed pigments and linseed oil on a stone tablet, the small office where he handled his everyday affairs and the actual space where he conducted his business affairs (he was an art dealer who at one point had both Michelangelos and Titians in his collection). Interestingly one of the ways that the original dwelling has been re-configured is through the inventory taken at the time of the foreclosure. Thus, the house reeks of the humanity for which the famed painter is famous. He triumphed and also lost everything there. The mistress he took after the death of his wife also lived in one of the rooms and when you visit you get to see the kitchen with the hearth and even the tiny bed on which his housekeeper slept. Every element of the house poses questions about art and life which are also answered—which you might say is one of the very characteristics of Rembrandt’s art. Speaking of humanity, The Doelen is the oldest hotel in Amsterdam and it was in one of its third floor suites, which can still be rented, that "The Night Watch" was painted.

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