Rembrandt Masterpiece Coming to London

Rembrandt, The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis (1661-1662) Photo: The National Gallery, London

London’s National Gallery has been given rare opportunity to show Rembrandt’s The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis (1661-1662), the Guardian reported. The painting will travel to the UK for the first time for the National Gallery’s upcoming exhibition “Rembrandt: The Late Works,” which opens October 15. The loan is thanks in part to redevelopment work, which has temporarily closed the painting’s home, Sweden’s National Museum.

Exhibition curator, Betsy Wieseman told the Guardian “The extraordinary circumstances of the commissioning and early history of this painting are perhaps the most eloquent statement of Rembrandt’s position in Amsterdam artistic circles in the early 1660s, one of the central questions addressed in the exhibition. That is just one reason why I am absolutely thrilled it is coming to London.”

Thought the painting will surely make waves in the National Gallery show, it wasn’t always such a hit. The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis (1661-1662) was famously unpopular when it was unveiled and was rejected by the civic leaders of Amsterdam who had commissioned it. The work’s experimental style and grotesque imagery did not correspond to the expectations of 17th century Dutch society. Rembrandt also controversially chose to depict the one-eyed dutch hero Claudius Civilis from the front rather than in profile, as tradition dictated.

A financial dispute only increased that unpopularity, according to Jonathan Bikker, curator of research at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Bikker suggests that the bankrupt artist insisted on more money after he was asked to make changes to the work by the Amsterdam city officials who had commissioned the picture. When the city council refused to pay, Rembrandt drastically reduced the canvas size, cutting the image down to just a fifth of its originally-proposed size.


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