CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Rembrandt and other animals

Exhibition: 20 April - 22 August 2004

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69), Reclining lion, ca. 1660
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

From the museum website

Toucans, walruses, elephants, swell-fish, ibises, monkeys, lions and leopards can be seen at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on Holland Boulevard at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol from 20 April. Rembrandt and other animals is the fourth exhibition organised by the Rijksmuseum. Rembrandt’s superb drawing of a lion is the centrepiece. In total, 17 prints and drawings of exotic animals from the Rijksmuseum’s world-famous collection will be on display. Passengers at Schiphol can see the exhibition until 22 August 2004. In addition, the permanent presentation of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age remains on view.

The prints and drawings on display in Rembrandt and other animals date from the 16th to 18th centuries. This was the period in which traders and explorers discovered the world overseas. All levels of society, from townspeople to country folk, became fascinated by “the exotic”. It was a status symbol to own exotic beasts, and every Dutch stadholder kept a zoo. And for celebrated 17th-century Dutch artists like Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Paulus Potter (1625-1654) and Jacques de Gheyn II (1565-1629) exotic animals were favourite subjects for drawings. For a long time true-to-life drawings were the principal means through which people learned about the animal kingdom. Nowadays the splendid drawings and prints show the everlasting beauty of these age-old animals.