Must-See Rembrandt Blockbuster Opens Frieze Week

You can never have too much Rembrandt.

Rembrandt, The Jewish Bride (c.1667)
Photo: Courtesy Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.


Wednesday, October 15, right in the middle of Frieze Week, marks the official opening of the National Gallery’s highly anticipated exhibition devoted to the 17th century Dutch painter Rembrandt Van Rijn.

The show is the first detailed exploration of the artist’s late works, focusing on his final 15 years. The exhibition will display about 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints from the 1650’s until the artist’s death in 1669.

Rembrandt rose to prominence in his 30’s as a portrait artist. However, his extravagant lifestyle cost him dearly and financial as well as legal problems marred his later years. The loss of his wife and three children added further suffering during this time.

Despite these traumatic events, and perhaps in part as a result of them, Rembrandt’s creativity surged. The curator of Dutch and Flemish paintings for the National Gallery, Betsy Wieseman, told the Guardian, “As a mature artist he felt himself less bound by conventions and more willing to take artistic and iconographic risks – to venture into areas that other artists weren’t willing to go”.

The show promises a number of famous portraits and self-portraits, including Self Portrait at the Age of 63, which, painted in his last years, captures the artist’s commitment to visual truth and attention to detail. Also on view will be the celebrated Portrait of a Couple as Isaac and Rebecca (known as ‘The Jewish Bride’) which depicts a couple’s tender embrace. Vincent van Gogh, when explaining this painting to a friend, declared, “I should be happy to give ten years of my life, if I could go on sitting here in front of this picture for a fortnight, with only a crust of dry bread for food.”

“Rembrandt: The Late Works” will be on view at the National Gallery of London from October 15 through January 18, 2015 and at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam from February 12 through May 17.

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