CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Symposium Rembrandt Conservation Histories

Symposium: 8 November - 9 November 2018

On 8 and 9 November 2018, the Rijksmuseum will host an international symposium on the history of conservation of paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn. The aim is to heighten awareness of how the appearance and condition of paintings by Rembrandt can (partly) be explained by their treatment history.

UPDATE: The deadline for Early Bird registration is extended to 21 October 2018.

The symposium is organized on the occasion of the research and treatment of the portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit by Rembrandt van Rijn, jointly acquired by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Musée du Louvre in Paris. It will be the first in a series of conferences on the history of conservation. In the future, similar conferences will be organised on the treatment history of paintings by Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer and Jan Steen.


Important masterpieces in museum collections, such as the paintings by Rembrandt, often have the dubious honor to have undergone numerous conservation treatments in the past. Because of the significance of the paintings, these treatments are generally well documented. For instance, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp (Mauritshuis, The Hague) has undergone twenty-three documented treatments, while those of The Night Watch (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) add up to twenty-five. Rembrandt’s paintings are distributed all over the world throughout major collections. Some works have been in the same city or collection from early on. The Night Watch never left the city of Amsterdam apart from its peregrinations during World War II. Other paintings, such as the Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) traveled widely and changed ownership several times, ending up in museum collections in the United States. Every country has its own traditions, developments and approaches to conservation, with important restorers who have played a key role in the treatment and appearance of Rembrandt paintings.

For more information, please see the Rijksmuseum website.