The ‘Jewish’ Rembrandt  10 November 2006

10 November 2006 - 4 February 2007

From 10 November 2006 until 4 February 2007 the Jewish Historical Museum presents the exhibition The 'Jewish' Rembrandt. This fascinating exhibition will unravel the romantic myth that has grown up over the centuries about Rembrandt's special relationship with the Jews. Paintings that have played an important part in the formation of this myth have been assembled from all around the world. The exhibition brings to a close the nationwide celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt's birth.

A variety of factors have contributed to the myth of the 'Jewish' Rembrandt since the eighteenth century. It is said that the painter counted the philosopher Spinoza and rabbi Menasseh ben Israel among his friends. Some people claimed to see traces of Jewish mysticism (kabbalah) and references to Judaism in his paintings. Rembrandt's neighbours in Amsterdam's Jewish quarter are supposed to have inspired many of his portraits and drawings, and his paintings of bearded men wearing skullcaps have taken on titles such as Rabbi with flat hat or Polish Jew.

However, recent research has cast doubt upon each of these suppositions, with the result that the scores of Rembrandt paintings that were once believed to depict Jewish subjects have been reduced to a mere handful. Even his famous painting The Jewish Bride is now subject to discussion: does it really depict a Jewish marriage?

In the exhibition The 'Jewish' Rembrandt the JHM juxtaposes fact and fiction. Paintings such as the impressive Moses with the Tablets of the Law and the portrait of Dr. Ephraïm Bueno can be seen alongside the book Piedra Gloriosa containing Rembrandt's etchings, and works by the artist's students and followers. These are set against a multimedia context of sound recordings, expert opinions and animations of the Jewish quarter in the seventeenth century. We invite visitors to draw their own conclusions about the 'truth' of the 'Jewish' Rembrandt.

For images and/or further information please contact the communications department:
T +31 (0)20 531 0370
F +31 (0)20 531 0311
Communications Department

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