CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Rembrandt -Caravaggio

Exhibition: 24 February - 18 June 2006

Caravaggio, Boy with basket of fruit, Rome, Galleria Borghese

Caravaggio, Boy with basket of fruit
Rome, Galleria Borghese

Organization and venue

The exhibition is being put together by the Rijksmuseum and presented jointly by the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The exhibition location is the Van Gogh Museum.

From the website of the Rijksmuseum

One of the highlights of the Rembrandt year! The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum will jointly be presenting a unique encounter between the two geniuses of Baroque painting: Rembrandt van Rijn and Il Caravaggio. For the first time, an exhibition is being organised with works from these two 17th-century masters of chiaroscuro. Over 25 monumental paintings on loan from various international museums will offer a visual spectacle with powerful images of love, emotion and passion. The Rembrandt-Caravaggio exhibition can only be seen in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Rijksmuseum press release, 10 February 2006

Exceptional loans for Rembrandt-Caravaggio

Several leading works from various international collections will be shown together at the Rembrandt-Caravaggio exhibition. This is the first time these two major Baroque artists have confronted each other. In fact no work by the famous Italian painter Caravaggio has appeared in the Netherlands since 1952. This exhibition features over 35 paintings, including Omnia vincit Amor from Berlin, one of the highlights of Caravaggio’s oeuvre. Caravaggio’s famous The conversion of the Magdalen from Detroit is also shown. Among the Rembrandts are The sacrifice of Abraham from St Petersburg and the Two old men disputing from Melbourne. This is the first time the latter has ever been on loan.

Twelve pairs of paintings by the two masters of southern and northern European Baroque form the core of the presentation. Although Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610) never actually met, remarkable similarities can found in their work. The most obvious parallel is their matchless depiction of light and shade, known as chiaroscuro. They also share a convincing realism and a profound psychological insight, as well as a desire to depict the great themes of mankind in a narrative, decorative manner. This exhibition provides the first opportunity to compare the corresponding qualities of the two painters in a wide selection of works.

As a prologue, the show opens with works by the Dutch Caravaggists (Ter Brugghen, Van Baburen and Van Honthorst) who emulated Caravaggio and were the first to introduce his manner of painting to the Netherlands. Rembrandt was familiar with their work, and so came into contact with Caravaggio’s innovative style. That is evident in some of his early paintings, including St Paul at his desk from Nuremberg.

The presentation of Rembrandt-Caravaggio is by the internationally renowned designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte of Paris. He won his spurs with projects such as the refurbishment of the Louvre and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. He is currently working on designs for the galleries of the New Rijksmuseum. His designs for Rembrandt-Caravaggio are the first test of his work in the Netherlands.

As a central part of the Rembrandt 400 programme, Rembrandt-Caravaggio is one of the most ambitious exhibitions celebrating the four-hundredth anniversary of Rembrandt’s birth in the Netherlands in 2006.

Van Gogh Museum-Rabobank partnership

The sponsorship of Rembrandt-Caravaggio is part of the long-term partnership between Rabobank and the Van Gogh Museum. As principal sponsor of this exhibition Rabobank offers a unique opportunity to its 1.5 million clients and other customers to enjoy the Dutch and Italian masters of light. This exhibition also contributes to the partnership’s aim of encouraging the Dutch public to visit the Van Gogh Museum. The Friday evening programme, the Van Gogh Museum bus and the sponsorship of Rembrandt-Caravaggio are all part of the partnership project.