Rembrandt House – Amsterdam


This charming museum is set in Rembrandt’s house and studio, near the central train station in Amsterdam. All around, the buildings are rather ugly and modern, likely due to its position in the Jewish quarter, which was completely devastated during World War II, houses burned for firewood during the final cold months of the war.

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Rembrandt was a Dutch painter, 1606 – 1669, considered one the greatest European painters and most prominent Dutch painter in history. The subject matter of his paintings is dominantly religious or portraiture.

The house itself was, at the time, newly built in a fashionable neighborhood, and Rembrandt mortgaged himself up to the eyebrows. At the same time, though he was making lots of money through commissions, he apparently had a spending habit that matched (which is quite evident in his library in the house). In 1656 he declared bankruptcy and died a poor man.

I recommend getting the free audio guide, which takes you through the rooms and tells you all the important info. You start in the kitchen.

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The minuscule box bed near the stove, where the maids slept, is astonishingly small. Near the sink there is a spout for water, however back in the 17th century it wasn’t for drinking due to sanitary reasons – everyone drank a weak beer instead.

Next, you move up to the first floor – where there is a “Receiving Room” for guests, complete with another box bed for overnight visitors.

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Isn’t it charming to think of a time when you were greeted in a Receiving Room? Next is a parlor/gallery room, and Rembrandt’s bedroom. A common practice back then was to paint/alter lower-cost materials to make them look expensive. The wood frames around the doors are painted to appear like marble, and the handles and fastens on the wood box bed are painted to appear like ebony.

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Rembrandt’s Box Bed

In the gallery, some of the paintings are by Rembrandt while many others are by pupils. The Rembrandt Research Project of 1968 has in fact identified many painting previously thought to be by the artist to be the work of his students. My favorite painting is the one below, “The Holy Family in the Evening”, hung in the bedroom. Just look at the light . . . so beautiful!

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Up another level, you find the art studio, along with a library of various books and natural materials. The studio is completely flooded with light, and there is a fascinating collection of oil, paints, powders, and pigments which were used to prepare the various colors.

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In the library, there are amazing mammoth tortoise shells, giant oyster shells, various statue fragments, exotic prints, many books, rare rocks and minerals. Clearly this is where a lot of the money was lost.

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Up in the attic was the student’s studio – with less light and lower ceilings than Rembrandt’s studio. Overall, the museum is a fascinating peak into traditional Dutch life at the time, and a good overview of Rembrandt’s work. Admission prices and hours here.

Categories: Cities & Culture, Featured, Weekend EscapesTags: , , , , , , ,

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