Museum het Rembrandthuis (Rembrandt House Museum)
Museum het Rembrandthuis (Rembrandt House Museum) Review
This is the house that Rembrandt bought, flush with success, for 13,000 guilders (a princely sum) in 1639, and where he lived and worked until 1656 when declared bankrupt. The inside is a remarkable reconstruction job, as the contents have been assembled based on inventories made when Rembrandt was forced to sell everything, including an extravagant collection of art and antiquities (a contributing factor in his money troubles). He originally chose this house on what was then the main street of the Jewish Quarter, to experience firsthand the faces he would use in his Old Testament religious paintings. The house interior has been restored with contemporaneous elegant furnishings and artwork in the reception rooms, a collection of rarities that match as closely as possible the descriptions in the inventory, and the main studio, occasionally used by guest artists, which is kept fully stocked with paints and canvases. But it doesn't convey much of the humanity of Rembrandt himself. When he left here, he was not only out of money, but also out of favor with the city after relationships with servant girls following the death of his wife, Saskia. The little etching studio is perhaps the most atmospheric. Littered with tools of the trade, a printing press, and a line hung with drying prints (there are demonstrations), it's easy to imagine Rembrandt finding respite here, experimenting with form and technique, away from uncomfortable schmoozing for commissions (and loans) in the grander salon. The museum owns a huge collection of etchings with 260 of the 290 he made represented, and a changing selection is on permanent display. His magisterial "Hundred Guilder" and the "Three Crosses" prints show that Rembrandt was almost more revolutionary in his prints than in his paintings, so this collection deserves respectful homage, if not downright devotion, by printmakers today.
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