Rembrandt: A Virtual World Tour

New Weekly Series!

In light of our current Rembrandt exhibition being temporarily unavailable for viewing, each week we will explore works by this master artist to share with you, our members and community.

FIRST STOP: Southern California

Virtual Rembrandt Exhibition Brings 5 Southern California Museums Together

Long before COVID-19 shut down life as we know it, this online exhibition highlighting pieces from five distinguished museums in Southern California was in production. Art from the Hammer Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Los Angeles; the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena; and the Timken Museum of Art in San Diego are all included with many additional resources and works available on their individual websites.

The majority of pieces in this exhibit are portraiture, which is what Rembrandt was most famous for and provided most of his income. The two portraits below share many similarities which we will explore along with their differences.


Portrait of a Man in a Broad Brimmed Hat

1633, etching on laid paper
Currently on display at Elverhoj Museum
Collection of Howard & Fran Berger, gift to the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art

Portrait of a Bearded Man in a Wide-Brimmed Hat

1633, oil on panel
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena

Rembrandt Harmenszoon vin Rijn (1606-1669) made a career out of portraits commissioned by Amsterdam's urban elite. His almost photographic ability to capture his sitter brought great acclaim to the talented artist.

Both portraits are from early in Rembrandt's career when he first moved to Amsterdam and was establishing his reputation and marketing himself to society, similar to modern day photographers shooting family portraits and senior pictures. The etching shows Rembrandt's talented use of line detail while the painting displays his incredible mastering of chiaroscuro.

The subjects in the two portraits are officially "undetermined," with historians posing various hypotheses. Regardless of their identities, both of these works exhibit popular modes of portraiture in 17th century Amsterdam along with physical attributes (beards) and fashion (wide-brimmed hats) indicative of the time. The man's collar on the right signals his Mennonite religion, whereas the subject on the left is wearing typical Dutch middle-class apparel.

The skill he displays in these pieces surely went on to bring him many more commissions and ultimately aid in his becoming one of the greatest artists in history.

We hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into Rembrandt's work and encourage you to check out the complete online exhibition HERE.

Next week's stop: St. Petersburg, Russia

Stay safe,

The Elverhoj Team

ELVERHØJ MUSEUM of History and Art

1624 Elverhoy Way
Solvang, CA 93463


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