Room 23

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Rembrandt and Rembrandt School

Rembrandt van Rijn was the most inventive and influential artist of the Dutch Golden Age. His style continually evolved, reflecting his changing concerns as a man and as an artist. In the early years of his career he created images that relied on external displays of passion, violent movement, and strong contrasts of light and dark for dramatic effect (see the works shown in Room 24). But from the 1650s until his death in 1669, Rembrandt crafted a new style that was more expressive and more direct, capable of conveying deep emotion with a remarkable economy of means. The self-portraits he painted during these years are some of the most soulful, honest, and deeply moving works in the tradition of Western European painting.

Rembrandt’s distinctive painting style, his dramatic use of light and shadow, and his sensitivity to human emotion attracted numerous followers. His last pupil, Aert de Gelder, continued working in his style into the 18th century.

Complementing figural paintings by Rembrandt and his followers are the tranquil pastoral scenes of Aelbert Cuyp. Many of Cuyp’s paintings, such as ‘The Large Dort’, are set in the environs of his native city of Dordrecht. Abundant livestock and golden sunlight reflect the peace and prosperity enjoyed by the new Dutch Republic.