The Rembrandt year and the Golden Age in the Netherlands

In 2019, the Netherlands is celebrating the 350th anniversary of the passing of one of its greatest painters, Rembrandt van Rijn, with many major exhibitions in Amsterdam and across the country. A good opportunity to rediscover the works of this genius of 17th century painting and to immerse yourself in the blessed era of the Dutch Golden Age.

Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age

Painter, storyteller, engraver, draftsman, collector ... Rembrandt (1606-1669) is an immense artist with countless facets, whose genius hatched during the Dutch Golden Age. 350 years after death of the master, the Netherlands will celebrate his work and his time throughout 2019.

The country enjoyed an economic and artistic boom without precedent in the 17th century: its great maritime power and its particularly tolerant spirit then attracted both wealth and talent. The avant-garde jostled there. This resulted in major scientific advances, and above all an artistic creativity which brought Dutch painting to its peak.

It is at the heart of this cultural effervescence that Rembrandt developed his formidably innovative art. This uncompromising portrait painter first distinguished himself by painting the bourgeoisie of Amsterdam, but he refused to specialize and embraced the most diverse genres and styles throughout his career. Thus, he tackles mythological themes as well as landscapes, female nudes and history painting.

The virtuosity with which Rembrandt plays on shadows and materials gives great intensity to his paintings. The idealization of bodies is neglected in favor of expressiveness: we also find this raw realism in other great painters emblematic of the Dutch Golden Age such as Vermeer, Nicolas Maes or even Frans Hals, to which the country also pays tribute in 2019.

In the 17th century, the Dutch notables snapped up these canvases and placed numerous commissions on artists, thus developing a very dynamic art market. The thematic year "Rembrandt and the Golden Age in the Netherlands" allows you to explore this long period of prosperity through the many exhibitions and activities organized across the country. The museums, monuments and architecture of the big cities of the Dutch Golden Age are thus highlighted by these exceptional events. This is the perfect opportunity to (re) discover the Netherlands!

The Rembrandt year in Amsterdam

About fifteen exhibitions celebrate the heritage of the Golden Age and its most illustrious figure during the year 2019. In Amsterdam, where Rembrandt established himself in 1631, we can notably mention the Rijksmuseum which allows to admire for the first time the collection of the painter in its entirety. In addition, the museum alone concentrates three remarkable exhibitions:

- ' All Rembrandts », From February 15 to June 10, 2019, is a magnificent retrospective that allows you to discover the genius of the master in all its forms, from intimate self-portraits to large spectacular scenes.

- In July 2019, the restoration of the famous painting The Night Watch will also be the subject of an exhibition. The most advanced conservation techniques will be presented to the public.

- Organized in collaboration with the Prado Museum, the exhibition “ Rembrandt-Velasquez »Compares the works of these two immense 17th century painters between October 11, 2019 and January 19, 2020.

Guided tours, readings and workshops devoted to Rembrandt and his time are also on the program of the Rijksmuseum.

Finally, from January 1 to December 31, 2019, the Amsterdam National Maritime Museum offers a virtual tour of a historic 17th century port entitled “Dare to discover”, to understand the major importance of maritime trade during the Golden Age. 

The Rembrandt year in the rest of the Netherlands

If Amsterdam is the cradle of this golden age, many other Dutch cities have also stood out and are celebrating their glorious past in 2019:

- In Leiden, Rembrandt's birthplace, the Lakenhal museum dedicates an exhibition to the painter's early works between November 3, 2019 and February 9, 2020.

- From April 28 to September 8, 2019, The Hague Historical Museum retraces the expansion of this city which was then a center of power through the exhibition “The Golden Age in The Hague”.

- It is also in The Hague that the Mauritshuis museum celebrates the work of Nicolas Maes, one of Rembrandt's most remarkable students, from October 17, 2019 to January 19, 2020.

- In Delft, the exhibition “Coming out of Vermeer's shadow” honors Pieter de Hooch and his emblematic paintings of the Baroque movement in Prisenhof museum, from October 11, 2019 to February 16, 2020.

Museums on Rembrandt and the Golden Age to visit

To learn more about the Dutch Golden Age, there are many permanent exhibitions to explore further this exciting time. In Amsterdam, the Rembrandt house (Rembrandthuis), where the painter lived from 1639 to 1656, reveals the behind the scenes of his life and his work. In particular, we discover his studio, where he painted and taught, his daily life, his engravings as well as a fascinating cabinet of curiosities.

North of Amsterdam, the port city of Horn houses the Westfries museum, where permanent collections dedicated to the Dutch Golden Age are exhibited. These immersive exhibitions give the impression of living in the middle of the 17th century!

Finally, the city ofEnkhuizen, which was also an important step for the merchant ships of the time, includes the open-air museum Zuiderzee. This recreates the life that we led in the region during the Golden Century. The magnificent port of Enkhuizen and the buildings of its old town also bear witness to these splendors of yesteryear, among which it is so good to stroll in this year 2019.

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