A visit to the Rembrandt House museum was one of the main things on my to do list during my recent short stay in Amsterdam.
Rembrandt purchased the house in 1639 and lived there until he went bankrupt in 1656, when all his belongings were auctioned off..
The house has been restored to look like it did when the artist lived there. As they’d been sold off when he went bankrupt, it doesn’t contain the original contents, but the detailed auction list of all his belongings meant similar pieces of furniture and other items have been obtained. There are also copies of the paintings he used to own hung on the walls.
I’d purchased an e-ticket in advance via the museum’s website, but there was no advantage in doing this. There was no priority queue. However, the museum was not over busy and there was no problem gaining entry. It’s a self guided tour and an audio guide is included in the entry fee.
The first room visited is the kitchen which is in the basement
The entrance hall on the ground floor
The ante-room on the ground floor. Rembrandt, who wasan art dealer besides an artist, would have met his clients here.
Rembrandt’s studio on the first floor, lit by large north facing windows
warmed by a couple of elaborately decorated Dutch stoves
Rembrandt’s collection of books and miscellaneous artefacts
The studio on the top floor where Rembrandt’s apprentices would have worked.
In addition to his extensive oeuvre of paintings and drawings, Rembrandt van Rijn also produced around 290 prints.The museum holds regular demonstrations of the drypoint and etching process Rembrandt would have used to produce his prints.
They even have a reproduction of the type of press he would have used – which was operated to produce a print during the demonstration.
I also saw a demonstration of how artists during Rembrandt’s time used to produce their paints.
In those days artists couldn’t nip down to the shop and buy tubes of paints ready to use that would keep. They had to grind the pigments, mix them with oil and grind the mixture to produce a smooth paint which would quickly go off, so they would have to be prepared on the day they were going to be used. With successful artists this laborious work would be done by their apprentices.
I particularly enjoyed the demonstrations as they gave a glimpse into the life of an artist living at that time.
Next to the house itself there’s a modern extension and beside the entrance to the museum and small gift shop, the upper floors are used for exhibitions of modern artists and examples from the extensive collection of etchings by Rembrandt owned by the museum.