Room 16

Early Rembrandt and Dutch Landscapes

Rembrandt was the most versatile and influential Dutch painter of the 17th century. He began his career in his native Leiden, but moved to Amsterdam in about 1631 where he quickly established himself.

The paintings displayed here reveal that he was a talented draughtsman from a young age, creating clear, dynamic compositions filled with expressive gestures. His early work is also distinguished by its narrow tonal range, attention to surface detail and ability to manipulate light to enhance narrative.

The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century significantly reduced the demand for religious works in the Dutch Republic. As a result, the market for secular paintings, especially landscapes, increased dramatically. The naturalistic tonal landscapes in this room were considered quite revolutionary at the time.

Popular artists such as Aelbert Cuyp, Salomon van Ruysdael and Jan van Goyen used a restrained, at times almost monochrome, palette of colours inspired by local scenery, and carefully modulated tone to achieve subtle atmospheric effects.