Large-scale exhibition of Rembrandt works opens at Prague’s Kinský Palace

The exhibition includes over 60 works by Rembrandt plus 50 more by his contemporaries and followers

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 24.09.2020 16:44 (updated on 25.09.2020)

 The exhibition Rembrandt: Portrait of a Man has finally opened at the Kinský Palace on Prague’s Old Town Square. It runs to January 31, 2021.

Overall, there are 115 works from foreign and domestic institutions and private collections. Over 60 works are by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, and the rest are by his contemporaries and followers.

The exhibition had been scheduled to start in April this year, but was delayed due to global measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The exhibition contains many international loans. It has never been possible to see so many Rembrandt works together, and it will certainly not be possible for a long time in the future. It is almost a miracle, especially given the current situation. Thanks to the new date, we even managed to exclusively secure works from world collections that we were not originally able to obtain,” exhibition curator Lucie Němečková said.

The exhibition’s 115 exhibits comprise 50 paintings, 58 graphic sheets and seven drawings. Rembrandt's work is represented by 10 paintings and more than 50 works on paper from throughout his career. The rest of the works are by Jan Lievens, Gerrit Dou, Ferdinand Bol, Govaert Flinck and Christopher Paudiss.

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Rembrandt is often called the painter of the human soul. According to the National Gallery in Prague, which operates the Kinský Palace venue, the essence of Rembrandt’s enduring charm lies in his art of penetrating beneath the surface of things.

The exhibition centers on the portrait of A Scholar in His Study, which is the only Rembrandt paining in the Czech Republic. It was created in 1634, a successful time in both his professional and private life. “This portrait does not simply render the physical likeness of an anonymous man; in it, Rembrandt expresses the dramatic spiritual life of the elder with bravura and tells a complex story through his facial expression, thereby elevating the work into a masterpiece of historical painting,” the National Gallery in Prague states, adding that the key work of the exhibition offers more questions than answers and occupies an exceptional place in Rembrandt's entire work.

It was created shortly after Rembrandt had moved from his native Leiden to Amsterdam, where he quickly became popular as a portrait artist. Around the same time, he married Saskia van Uylenburgh, who would become the subject of several portraits.

Rembrandt devoted himself to graphics with the same intensity as painting. He experimented with graphic techniques and types of paper to expand the possibilities of the medium.

“We only get to know Rembrandt’s artistic personality fully if we study all three areas of his work: painting, drawing and graphics. Together they create a full view of the breadth, individuality and breathtaking energy of his artistic expression. Therefore, in the exhibition drawings and graphics are not separated, but organically incorporated between the artist's canvases,” Blanka Kubíková, curator of the NGP Collection of Graphics and Drawings, said.

“I believe that visitors will appreciate Rembrandt's very modern drawing style, where he was able to express the movement or the character of the subject brilliantly in a few strokes,” Kubíková added.

Rembrandt himself can be seen in several images. “The meeting with his personality is enhanced by the placement of four graphic self-portraits, which frame the entire exhibition. The perception of delicate graphic works is supported by a velvety background, absorbing excess light, otherwise the installation remains intentionally minimalist,” exhibition architect Lenka Míková said.

The artworks come to the National Gallery in Prague as well as the Moravian Gallery in Brno, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Olomouc, the Royal Canonry of Premonstratensians at Strahov, the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, the National Gallery London, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, the Viennese Albertina and private collectors.

The exhibition Rembrandt: Portrait of a Man at the Kinský Palace runs through January 31, 2021.

To buy tickets to a guided English language tour of this exhibit visit our events listings.