Rembrandt House

By Philippa Burne, UK, June 2011

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You’d be unusual to have gone your whole life without ever seeing a painting by Rembrandt. One of history’s most famous painters, he lived and worked in Amsterdam during the seventeenth century, a time known as the Dutch Golden Age. He became successful early on as a portrait painter and was able to move to a large house in which he painted in a studio on the top floor and met clients and displayed his work on the ground floor. But then as now, early success guaranteed nothing and Rembrandt faced financial hardship as well as personal tragedy with the deaths of his wife and three of his four children. Only his son Titus lived to adulthood and died a year before Rembrandt himself.

Although a successful painter, this large house, which is now the Rembrandt House Museum and set up as it was when he lived and worked there, left Rembrandt in serious financial difficulty. The mortgage was very large and he had a penchant for buying fine works of art and objects to inspire his painting. Most of the collection was sold off to satisfy his debtors and keep him out of prison but in the top room of the house you can still see some of the objects Rembrandt was fascinated with: books, stuffed animals, shells. This together with the pigments for making paint in the studio, the printing press on a lower floor, and the paintings on the ground floor make the house a must visit for anyone even mildly interested in art and history. His most famous painting, The Night Watch, is in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

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