Looking for Rembrandt episode 3

Looking for Rembrandt episode 3

Looking for Rembrandt episode 3: Desperate for money, Rembrandt takes on commissions that even his pupils have passed by, pupils who are now getting the grand offers that once came through Rembrandt’s door.



Bankruptcy proceedings hound him for years and, although Rembrandt tries various – sometimes fraudulent – ways to divert some money back into his own pocket, his creditors take his house, his copperplates and virtually all his possessions. Yet he paints a self-portrait as the prince of painters, a regal pose that belies his financial and reputational chaos.

As Rembrandt ages and enters the twilight of his career, his works take on a new painterly style. He revels in aged skin, in deformity, in humanity rather than hubris. But it is not a style favoured by all his patrons, and his most important commission in years is rejected. After his lover and his son die, and Rembrandt is left with just his paint brushes and his memories, we see the final self-portrait of a great painter who never stopped experimenting, never stopped searching. A genius still recognised four centuries after his death.


Looking for Rembrandt episode 3


In the late 1640s Rembrandt began a relationship with the much younger Hendrickje Stoffels, who had initially been his maid. In 1654 they had a daughter, Cornelia, bringing Hendrickje a summons from the Reformed Church to answer the charge “that she had committed the acts of a whore with Rembrandt the painter”.

She admitted this and was banned from receiving communion. Rembrandt was not summoned to appear for the Church council because he was not a member of the Reformed Church. The two were considered legally wed under common law, but Rembrandt had not married Hendrickje. Had he remarried he would have lost access to a trust set up for Titus in Saskia’s will.

Rembrandt lived beyond his means, buying art (including bidding up his own work), prints (often used in his paintings) and rarities, which probably caused a court arrangement to avoid his bankruptcy in 1656, by selling most of his paintings and large collection of antiquities. The sale list survives and gives us a good insight into Rembrandt’s collections, which, apart from Old Master paintings and drawings, included busts of the Roman Emperors, suits of Japanese armor among many objects from Asia, and collections of natural history and minerals.


Looking for Rembrandt


But the prices realized in the sales in 1657 and 1658 were disappointing. Rembrandt was forced to sell his house and his printing-press and move to more modest accommodation on the Rozengracht in 1660. The authorities and his creditors were generally accommodating to him, except for the Amsterdam painters’ guild, which introduced a new rule that no one in Rembrandt’s circumstances could trade as a painter. To get around this, Hendrickje and Titus set up a dummy corporation as art dealers in 1660, with Rembrandt as an employee.

In 1661 Rembrandt (or rather the new business) was contracted to complete work for the newly built city hall, but only after Govert Flinck, the artist previously commissioned, died without beginning to paint. The resulting work, The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, was rejected and returned to the painter; the surviving fragment is only a fraction of the whole work. It was around this time that Rembrandt took on his last apprentice, Aert de Gelder. In 1662 he was still fulfilling major commissions for portraits and other works. When Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany came to Amsterdam in 1667, he visited Rembrandt at his house.

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