Jan Lievens (1607-1674) Boy in a Cape and Turban (Portrait of Prince Rupert of the Palatinate) ca. 1631 Oil on panel New York, The Leiden Collection Image courtesy of The Leiden Collection, New York


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From 14 February to 18 May 2018, Louvre Abu Dhabi will present Rembrandt, Vermeer and The Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection and the Musée du Louvre.

Marking the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death, this new exhibition at Louvre Abu Dhabi is the largest showing to date in the Gulf Region of works by Dutch 17th-Century masters.

This exhibition is the result of a remarkable collaboration of Louvre Abu Dhabi, The Leiden Collection,The Musée du Louvre and Agence France-Museums who have worked very closely to showcase this extraordinary assemblage of 95 paintings, drawings and objects.

Also a rare opportunity to see 16 remarkable paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn, along with rare pieces by Johannes Vermeer, Jan Lieves or Carel Fabritius.

Not familiar with The Dutch Golden Age?

It was a brief period during the 17th century when the Dutch Republic, newly independent from the Spanish Crown, established itself as a world leader in trade, science and the arts, and was regarded as the most prosperous state in Europe. During this period, Rembrandt and Vermeer established themselves at the forefront of a new artistic movement characterized by a deep interest in humanity and daily life.

This exhibition is drawn primarily from The Leiden Collection, one of the largest and most significant private collections of artworks from the Dutch Golden Age.

The exhibition surveys the evolution of Rembrandt’s artistic career starting in his native Leiden where he created his early famed series of allegorical paintings of the Senses (3 displayed at the exhibition in the first room).

The early famed series of allegorical paintings of the Senses by Rembrandt van Rijn

Mastering the art of playing with shadow and light – as we could compare with the Instagram filters today-the exhibition showcases portraits and scenes illustrating the daily life at that time. Louvre Abu Dhabi makes an interesting parallel with present day in their brochure by saying “they were the pioneers of yesterday but are the #MastersofToday. “

Visitors can also watch the paintings Rembrandt created later on in Amsterdam, such as the renowned Self-Portrait with Shaded Eyes (from The Leiden Collection).

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
Self-Portrait with Shaded Eyes
Oil on panel
New York, The Leiden Collection
Image courtesy of The Leiden Collection, New York

Among the 90+ artworks, visitors can see paintings by other masters from Rembrandt’s artistic circle, illustrating that this remarkable group of artists had on each other’s work. It actually tells a lot about his relationships with rivals, pupils and peers, including Jan Lievens, Ferdinand Bol, Gerrit Dou, Frans van Mieris, Fras Hals or Johannes Vermeer.

Among the many highlights in this exhibition are two works by Vermeer – The Lacemaker (musée du Louvre) and Young Woman Seated at a Virginal (The Leiden Collection)  – that were painted on canvas cut from the same bolt. In this present exhibition, these have been hung side by side for what is thought to be the first time in 300 years.

Vermeer Johannes (1632-1675). Paris, Musée du Louvre. MI1448. The Lacemaker 1669-70, Oil on canvas mounted on panel, ©RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Gérard Blot


Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)
Young Woman Seated at a Virginal
ca. 1670-72
Oil on canvas
New York, The Leiden Collection
Image courtesy of The Leiden Collection, New York


The exhibition is divided into five thematic sections:

– At The Heart of The Dutch Golden Age

Cornelis van Bellekin (about 1625-after 1711)
Nautilus shell engraved with scenes of the Roman divinities Bacchus and Diana Bathing
Nautilus shell (mother of pearl) engraved and blackened, turned wood and gilt bronze
Paris, Musée du Louvre
© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN – Grand Palais / Martine Beck-Coppola

– Extraordinary Beginnings: Rembrandt van Rijn in Leiden

Bust of a Bearded Old man by Rembrandt van Rijn

– The Center of Golden Age: Rembrandt van Rijn in Amsterdam (with a fantastic cabinet of prints and drawings)

Frans van Mieris the Elder (1635-1681)
Young Woman Feeding a Parrot
Oil on panel
New York, The Leiden Collection
Courtesy of The Leiden Collection, New York

– Fine Paintings in Leiden: Gerrit Dou, Frans van Mieris, and their Contemporaries

Ferdinand Bol (1616-1680)
Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well
ca. 1645-46
Oil on canvas
Paris, musée du Louvre
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Adrien Didierjean

– Picturing Everyday Life in the Dutch Republic

Jan Steen (1626 – 1679)
Prayer Before The Meal
Oil on Oak panel

– Historical Lessons and tales of morality

Metsu Gabriel (1629-1667). Paris, musÈe du Louvre. INV1462.

Highlights of the show:

In the first room, don’t miss the very rare and beautifully crafted 17th-century ship model, a loan from Rijksmuseum. It’s its first time travelling to the UAE!

Dutch warship
Wood, rope, lead, textile and paint
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
© Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Also of special note is the first display at Louvre Abu Dhabi of the museum’s most recent acquisition, Rembrandt’s oil sketch Head of a young man with clasped hands: Study of the figure of Christ., ca 1648-56.

Rembrandt van Rijn
Head of a young man, with clasped hands: Study of the Figure of Christ, ca. 1648-56
ca. 1648–56
Oil and oak panel
25.5 x 20.1 cm
© Louvre Abu Dhabi / Photo by Seeing Things – Ismail Noor

As usual, you can also join family workshops, talks or attend performances linked to this new exhibition.

Check this page for more details


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