Rembrandt, Vermeer & the Dutch Golden Age
For the first time in the Middle-East, 16 remarkable paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn, as well as rare pieces by Johannes Vermeer, Jan Lievens and Carel Fabritius were shown in this extraordinary exhibition of more than 90 works from the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century.
During the Golden Age, the Dutch Republic was a world leader in trade, science, and the arts. Set against this backdrop of cultural exchange, exploration and discovery, the exhibition surveyed Rembrandt’s artistic journey and his relationship with friends, rivals, and contemporaries in the Dutch cities of Leiden and Amsterdam. The show also explored the artistic traditions that flourished in Leiden and the wider Netherlands during this period, including a new school of artists, made famous throughout Europe by Gerrit Dou and Frans van Mieris, called the fijnschilders (fine painters), best known for their exquisitely rendered scenes of daily life.
On display were works spanning Rembrandt’s career from his early famed series of allegorical paintings of the senses, (which demonstrated the artist’s youthful ingenuity and experimentation with expressions, composition and colour during his Leiden days), to later works created in Amsterdam. They included sensitively-rendered portraits, a renowned self-portrait, and his monumental history painting of the goddess Minerva. These works were displayed alongside paintings by other masters from Rembrandt’s artistic circle – including Jan Lievens, Ferdinand Bol, Carel Fabritius, and Gerrit Dou – demonstrating the influence that this remarkable group of artists had on each other’s work.
The exhibition also presented a unique opportunity to see two paintings by Johannes Vermeer, The Lacemaker and Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, produced on canvas cut from the same bolt, hung beside one another for what was thought to be the first time in 300 years.
The works were drawn from The Leiden Collection, the most important assemblage of Rembrandt and his peers in private hands, and the outstanding collection of the Musée du Louvre.