Amsterdam's Rembrandthuis is dedicated to the life and work of the painter and occupies the house he lived in between 1639 and 1658. The artist paid the huge sum of 13,000 guilders for it but still owed on the mortgage when he went bankrupt some 20 years later, with his home selling for only 11,000 guilders.
Amsterdam – Been There

The man who painted souls

Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Amsterdam – Been There The man who painted souls

Rembrandt’s success led to him buying a large house in 1639 that is now a museum dedicated to his life and work. It has a large display of the prints that were the actual basis for his wealth and much of his fame while he lived.

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

The Rembrandthuis is vast and, despite the busy modern traffic outside, still quiet inside. Rembrandt overreached himself financially acquiring this home, eventually going bankrupt in 1656, and its scale helps me understand why. In contrast, his bed is tiny, a small cupboard that reflects the fashion of the time to sleep upright and in warmth. The bed is poignantly familiar from drawings he made of his beloved wife Saskia lying in it while ill. It is also the bed she died in during childbirth.

“Rembrandt resonates with us because, like Hals, we recognize his subjects as real people,” says art historian Marie Hoedemaker. “His fascination with portraits reflects the radical change going on in European philosophy, led by the Dutch, turning their back on the idea that all authority rested with a church or a monarch and laying the foundation of a belief in the individual. He was not just painting their faces; he was also painting their souls. That obsession may also explain his own many self-portraits.”

Off Rembrandt’s airy studio is a study room stuffed with objects similar to those listed in the catalogue that accompanied his bankruptcy. Exotic weapons and feathers, animal skulls and skeletons, busts and armor are among the items Rembrandt bought off the sailors who thronged the canal sides. Props for his paintings, they also reflect a fascination with other peoples, cultures and ideas brought home by the Dutch voyages of discovery.

Across the road, a small café sitting lopsided by the canal delivers a view towards the Kloveniersburgwal that spans the centuries.

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Amsterdam's Madame Tussauds showed this wax figure of Rembrandt van Rijn in his studio as part of a display on the Dutch Golden Age. This era, roughly covering the 17th century, was a time when Dutch trade with Asia brought back great wealth that was invested in the work of artists. Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II

Aperture
ƒ/5.6
Exposure
1/3
ISO
1600
Focal
18 mm

Amsterdam's Madame Tussauds showed this wax figure of Rembrandt van Rijn in his studio as part of a display on the Dutch Golden Age. This era, roughly covering the 17th century, was a time when Dutch trade with Asia brought back great wealth that was invested in the work of artists.

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