AboutAll the Rembrandts
of the Rijksmuseum explores different aspects of Rembrandt’s life and work through a number of themes. The first section presents the milestones of his career as a young artist; when Rembrandt looks at himself in the mirror, the viewer looks over his shoulder. A close examination of Rembrandt’s many self-portraits reveals his growth as an artist of incomparable talent.
The second section of the exhibition focuses on Rembrandt’s surroundings and the people in his life. As a young man Rembrandt honed his craft by painting portraits of his mother, his family and acquaintances. He even made a powerful portrait of his wife Saskia as she lay ill in bed. The artist was also fascinated by the wider world around him: the beggars, the buskers, the vagrants, the actors. He drew and painted countless portraits of the people he encountered.
Rembrandt was a gifted storyteller, and his stories are at the heart of the last section of the exhibition. The Old Testament tales inspired Isaac and Rebecca (the alternative title for The Jewish Bride, c. 1665–1669) and Self-Portrait as the Apostle Paul (1661) in which he gives masterful expression to gestures and emotions that are familiar, tangible and intimate. Early depictions of these tales tend to be delicate and refined; later in life Rembrandt used a coarser experimental technique, applying ingenious colour and light effects to further enhance the narrative and draw out its essence.