This morning I attended the press preview of The National Gallery’s newest exhibition (opening tomorrow) of Rembrandt: The Late Works. Sponsored by Shell, this stunning exhibition is from 15 October 2014 – 18 January 2015. It is located in the Sainsbury Wing of The National Gallery, London. The closest Tube station being Charing Cross. I hope you enjoy the photos, though they by no means do these paintings justice. All photos below taken by me, Andrea Zuvich.
The National Gallery collaborated with The Rijksmuseum to create this beautiful exhibition, which took “half a dozen years” to organise. I previously have been privileged to visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, during my research trip for William & Mary back in 2011. It was lovely to see some of the works I saw there, but it was particularly delightful to see some I had never before seen.
Betsey Wieseman (Curator of Dutch and Flemish paintings at The National Gallery) took us from room to room and gave a brief history of the artworks on display, Rembrandt’s personal crises, and the innovation and emotion which is so often found in his work.
She imparted some really interesting information, but it was difficult to get everything as there were so many journalists in a relatively small space (there are several rooms, but with so many people, things got a little tight).
Wieseman explained that it is pretty much impossible to do a chronological exhibition of Rembrandt’s work because unlike many (if not most) other artists, we can’t say this was his such-and-such phase, etc.
For those of you who do not know who Rembrandt was, he was a Dutch Golden Age painter and one of the most well-known. Some people say that his work can be labelled, “modern art”, but I must disagree. Rembrandt was able to convey so much whilst still maintaining standards of the day.
The first room had several of Rembrandt’s self-portraits, like the one above and below. These are fascinating because Rembrandt doesn’t seem to have held back from depicting his increasingly aged self.
I found the next painting quite graphically gory, and as I had never seen it before, I was quite impressed (again) by Rembrandt. Look at all those details! It reminded me of my forensic anthropology courses back at university!
A bit closer…
The next painting is entitled, “Juno” and it was painted by Rembrandt in around 1662-5. One of the things I find most agreeable in Rembrandt’s works is the colours he chose. Juno’s gown is quite sumptuous.
In the next image, we see the popular “The Sampling Officials of the Amsterdam Drapers’ Guild, known as ‘The Syndics'” which is one of the pieces I saw when I visited the Rijksmuseum in 2011.
We soon came to my favourite Rembrandt paintings. Below is “Portrait of a Couple as Isaac and Rebecca, known as “The Jewish Bride”‘ I find this painting quite sensual.
The first, on the right is ‘Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife”. To the left of that painting is Bathsheba. To the far left is Lucretia.
In Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, painted in 1655, you can see how the emotions seem to jump off the painting. Just look at the wife’s angry, accusative facial expressions as she points at Joseph. She, of course, had been trying to seduce him, and he refused, and so she accused him of attempted rape.
In the following painting, entitled, “Bathsheba with King David’s Letter”, we see Bathsheba torn between her duty to her King (who wants to sleep with her) and fidelity to her husband. The mixed emotions, the inner torment, is spectacularly depicted by Rembrandt:
I should point out that Rembrandt’s Night Watch is NOT at this exhibition. It’s probably Rembrandt’s most famous work, but as it’s from 1642, it doesn’t count as a ‘late’ work. Also, it’s such a feature at the Rijksmuseum and it’s so massive in size that transport of any kind must be a nightmare.
My readers in The Netherlands will be pleased to learn that this exhibition is scheduled to travel to the Rijksmuseum, where it will be on show from 12 February to 17 May 2015.
As one exits the gallery, there is a shop which holds an array of gifts available relating to this exhibition. You can see that I got a little carried away…
As seen above, I bought the luscious 304-page exhibition book for £19.99, a music cd full of Baroque music for £16, several postcards at £1/each. I spent way too much money. But it was worth it and as this is part of my own job, it’s ok! (at least, that’s what I tell myself).
To sum up: if you love the 17th-century (which you do or you wouldn’t be here) and are able to visit London soon, I would very strongly recommend you visit this exhibition. But please don’t make it a quick visit, you deserve and these paintings deserve time and attention. You won’t forget what you see.
Visitors are advised to book early to avoid disappointment. You can book online (no booking fee), by phone, or in person.
Senior (60+): £16
Job Seeker/Student/National Art Pass: £9
For more information, please visit: www.nationalgallery.org.uk