CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Rembrandt Seen Through Jewish Eyes: Web Conference

Online event: 24 January - 14 February 2022

This online lecture series consists of four separate sessions on the following dates:

24 January 2022 (8 p.m. Moscow time)
31 January 2022 (8 p.m. Moscow time)
7 February 2022 (8 p.m. Moscow time)
14 February 2022 (8 p.m. Moscow time)

From 19 October 2022 through 15 January 2023 the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow is presenting an exhibition on the meaning of Rembrandt to Jews. With the Jews in his city of Amsterdam Rembrandt had contact of various professional and personal kinds, which will be evoked in a reconstruction of his neighborhood. He painted and etched portraits of Jewish sitters, used Jews as models for face studies and put Jewish figures into genre scenes and Bible compositions. Jews in Amsterdam and elsewhere soon began to see Rembrandt in a different light than other artists. His portrait etchings became models for images of rabbis. Female figures by him began to be called Jewish brides.

Rembrandt (1606-1669), Isaac and Rebecca, known as ‘The Jewish Bride’, ca. 1665-69
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

In the nineteenth century there was an intensification of the perceived link between Rembrandt and the Jews. He was seen as sympathetic toward the Jews, in a time when this was far from common. To European Jews, including wealthy art collectors, this made him the object of special admiration; to anti-Semites it brought him a measure of disdain. Responding to both these effects, Rembrandt was embraced by generation after generation of Jewish artists, who identified with him in their art and in their lives.

These themes and more will be explored and displayed in the exhibition, whose guest curators are Gary Schwartz and Mirjam Knotter. In preparation for it, the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center has organized a series of lectures on the subject of the exhibition. They will be presented online in four sessions of three half-hour lectures each, on successive Mondays starting on 24 January 2022.

All sessions are moderated by Gary Schwartz.


24 January – Jews and Judaism in Rembrandt’s Own World
Keynote: Simon Schama, University Professor, Columbia University, New York
Rembrandt in the Work and Lives of Jewish Immigrant Artists in Britain

Mirjam Knotter, Chief Curator and Exhibitions Manager, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
Jewish Daily Life and Material Culture in Rembrandt’s Time

Bart Wallet, Professor of Jewish History, University of Amsterdam
The Ashkenazi Community of Amsterdam

31 January – Spiritual Values that United and Divided Rembrandt and the Jews
Michael Zell, Associate Professor of Baroque and Eighteenth-Century Art, Boston University
Rembrandt, the Jews and Multicultural Amsterdam

Steven Nadler, WARF Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Menasseh ben Israel, Spinoza and Rembrandt

Shelley Perlove, Professor Emerita, University of Michigan
What Judaism Meant to Rembrandt and Vice Versa

7 February – Jews in the Art World and Rembrandt
Gary Schwartz, Guest curator, Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, Moscow
Jewish Collectors Take Rembrandt to Their Hearts

Larry Silver, James & Nan Farquhar Professor Emeritus of History of Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Jewish Artists Discover Rembrandt

Laurence Sigal-Klagsbald, Founding Director, Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, Paris
Jewish Museums Present Rembrandt

14 February – Rembrandt in Russia
Irina Sokolova, Curator of Dutch Painting, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Rembrandt in Russia

Roman Grigoryev, Head of the Print Section of the Department of Western Visual Arts, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Jewish Brides, Rabbis and Sitters in Rembrandt’s Etchings

Nina Getashvili, Head of the Art History Department at the Ilya Glazunov Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in Moscow
Rembrandt and Russian Jewish Artists

All sessions will begin at 20:00 Moscow time, which is
19:00 in Israel
18:00 in continental Western Europe
17:00 in the United Kingdom
12:00 on the North American east coast
09:00 on the North American west coast

Advance registration is required for each session and is free of charge: