From the museum press release, 13 November 2014
This spring, The Rembrandt House Museum will turn the spotlight onto the pupils who studied with Rembrandt during the final phase of his career, from the early 1650s until his death in 1669. Remarkably, although Rembrandt no longer commanded centre stage as a painter in Amsterdam and The Netherlands, he continued to draw talented students, who enthusiastically followed his comprehensive teaching methods and his devotion to art at the highest levels. The working relationships between Rembrandt and these pupils come to life in an exhibition with around sixty drawings and twenty paintings, brought together from major international museums and private collections. The exhibition is the first to focus on this manifestation of Rembrandt’s remarkable artistic vision during these fertile creative years.
In the 1650s Rembrandt pursued an increasingly painterly technique with loose brush work and complex buildup of layers, and quiet, inner emotions presented with greater concentration. Around him, major commissions went to artists who followed the Flemish masters Peter Paul Rubens and Antoon van Dyck and their pupils, with more movement, lighter tones, brighter colours, sharper contours, and greater elegance and idealization. Instead, Rembrandt chose Italian models such as Titian, for his reflection. Despite ignoring fashion, his instruction still drew aspiring young painters, such as Nicolaes Maes, Willem Drost, Abraham van Dijck and Jacobus Leveck. They came for the second phase of their training, to become independent masters. They saw Rembrandt as a comprehensive teacher, and not only imitated his virtuoso brush work, but also followed his instruction in a wide range of subject matter, from historical narrative to landscape. Often hailing from distant Dordrecht, most very likely were sent by a charismatic previous pupil established there, Samuel van Hoogstraten, who related much of Rembrandt’s teaching in his later book. Rembrandt’s two remarkable last pupils, Arent de Gelder and Godfried Kneller, likewise emulated his style and range.
In the exhibition, many compositional sketches show Rembrandt’s distinctive method for training pupils’–and his own–imagination of narrative historical scenes. Genre and landscape drawings will demonstrate how they studied a range of specialties to achieve comprehensive mastery. Finished paintings, some still produced in Rembrandt’s studio, reveal their instruction under Rembrandt but also their individual responses to his model. Rembrandt etchings from the Museum’s collection will shed further light on training in this special atelier. Planned to coincide with a major exhibition on the late Rembrandt in the Rijksmuseum, this display will give visitors an unusual chance to extend their look into this great artistic mind during this compelling independent period of his creative activity.
Rembrandts late leerlingen. In de leer bij een genie
Leonore van Sloten, David de Witt en Jaap van der Veen
Uitgeverij Terra, Houten, 2015