On September 25, the National Gallery Prague opened a long-awaited exhibition Rembrandt: Portrait of a Man which was rescheduled from spring to autumn due to Covid-19. It is an extensive exhibition project which can be deemed a small miracle considering the situation.
It will feature over 110 artworks from renowned foreign and Czech institutions and private collections, including the only Rembrandt’s painting in the Czech Republic, Scholar in His Study.
“The exhibition features many international borrowings, never before was it possible to see so many Rembrandt’s artworks at one place and certainly it will not be possible for a long time in the future. It is almost a miracle not only considering today’s situation. The new dates even allowed us to secure exclusively artworks from international collections that were not originally available,” reveals the exhibition curator Lucie Němečková.
The essence of the lasting charm of Rembrandt’s work arises from his ability to get under the surface of matters. There is a good reason for him being referred to as the painter of the human spirit.
The only one
A beautiful example of such perception of the Rembrandt’s work is undoubtedly Scholar in His Study dated 1634 from the collection of the National Gallery Prague. It is his only painting in the Czech Republic and at the same time one of the most beautiful paintings of the whole exhibition.
The portrait of the Scholar does not only depict a mere physical image of an unknown man, Rembrandt managed to masterfully capture a dramatic spiritual life of the portrayed old man. The facial expression tells a rich story thus putting the painting on equal footing with historic paintings. This extraordinary and central artwork of the exhibition still holds more questions than answers and has a unique position within the Rembrandt’s oeuvre.
The story of Scholar in His Study will present Rembrandt’s artistic career from its beginnings, through his most successful years, all the way to his late works. With the help of Rembrandt’s works and works of his contemporaries and followers – among others Lievens, Flinck, Paudiss or Drost – the National Gallery Prague will try to explain Rembrandt’s creative rivalry with his contemporaries and his influence that has lasted until today as evidenced by exhibited works of renowned present-day artists. Their interpretation of Prague’s Scholar in His Study shows that Rembrandt’s work remains a source of inspiration even more than 350 years after his death.
Over 110 artworks
The exhibition will introduce several top-class works borrowed not only from renown foreign and Czech museums and galleries, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, the National Gallery London, Prado Madrid, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam or the Albertina Museum Vienna, and from the Czech collections of the Moravian Gallery in Brno, the Archiepiscopate of Olomouc, the Royal Canonry of Premonstratensians at Strahov, but also from private individuals.
The exhibition features 115 exhibits, of which 50 paintings, 58 prints, and 7 drawings. Rembrandt’s work is represented by 10 paintings and over 50 works on paper.
Learning about Rembrandt’s creation can never do without his prints and drawings. Rembrandt devoted the same intensity and creativity to prints as to his paintings. They were highly appreciated already during his lifetime both in the Netherlands and abroad.
As Rembrandt has never left his homeland, during his lifetime he was known abroad mainly as a printmaker. Work on paper travelled easily and quickly and the originality of Rembrandt’s prints raised astonishment and elation not only with artists but also with art lovers. Already collectors of the 17th century strived to get a comprehensive collection of Rembrandt’s prints. The artist published several of his prints in large numbers and they yielded profit. Despite that he did not fall into routine, quite on the contrary: thanks to his prints he belongs among the most inventive and original artists of all times.
He experimented with printing techniques, various types of paper, he used precious parchment paper, he changed the amount of printing ink used for different prints thus revealing vast means of expression offered by prints.
Rembrandt who is also understood by children
Children can get carried away by the world of art through their own creations in the interactive studio right at the exhibition. When visiting the studio, the children will be in direct contact with artwork originals. They will experience what it feels like to be a scholar in a turban or what it means to think as a painter.
Children can explore their faces and play with face expressions, compose a still life and change it by different intensity of light or shadow. And they may also discover what Rembrandt had under his hat.
When and where
The exhibition will be held in the Kinsky Palace located in the very heart of Prague in the Old Town Square. The exhibition will be opened for public on September 25 and will last until January 31, 2021. It will be accompanied by a representative catalogue in Czech and English and a publication on Rembrandt’s oeuvre from the NGP new edition, Obrazy do kapsy, which is intended for both children and adults.
Opening hours are extended to Mondays to Sundays from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. and on Wednesdays till 8 p.m.