Rembrandt & the Golden Age

In 2019 the Netherlands celebrates 350 years of the immortality of Rembrandt.

Rembrandt & the Golden Age
The life of the Dutch painter Rembrandt was characterised by many ups and downs. Despite his success, he was unable to get his finances in order. When Rembrandt died in 1669, all he had left were a few paintings, a chair, a bed, a table and a mirror. However, his artistic legacy was tremendous. Not only did he leave behind 500 paintings, he also trained more than 40 pupils, several of whom became very famous, such as Govert Flinck, Gerard Dou and Ferdinand Bol.

Hans Visser and Irena Filippova delve into the history of the Low Countries during the Golden Age and go in search of the stories behind the famous paintings. A journey in images and through time, past the treasures of Dutch and Flemmish painting.

It all starts with a young Rembrandt who uses himself as a model to paint. He practices with the angle of the light on his face and sketches himself making all sorts of funny faces. He then practices on others and goes into the streets to draw the beggars near his home …

Rembrandt also wanders away from the city to the countryside that becomes his subject. Visser, Filippova and the theatregoers wander along with him, as it were. All over the world, Rembrandt is understood and appreciated for his command of light and darkness, his lively scenes full of drama, his compassion for fellow human beings, regardless of wealth, age or origin.

In 1633, Rembrandt married the mayor´s daughter Saskia van Uylenburg. She was his greatest source of inspiration for many of his works. Among others, he portrayed Saskia as a Roman goddess.

There have been dozens of genre painters but the greatest of all was Johannes Vermeer. Young women were the subject of many of Vermeer´s works. Women as the epitome of virtue.

Eroticism was a big part of daily life. Many paintings contain hidden sexual meanings and there was also a rich tradition in erotic texts. Whether it was about sex, homosexuality, voyeurism, the wedding night, defloration, happy hookers, genital diseases or pubic hair coiffeurs: not a single subject remained unsung.

Landscape & Cities; After the Great Iconoclasm, many Dutchmen in the south opted for the free Republic. Their journey has been captured by painters … Along the dirt roads and landscapes of Van Goyen … Middelburg, Dordrecht, Breda, Rhenen, Utrecht, Maastricht, Dokkum …

Rubens, who was from Antwerp, remained a Catholic and was able to stay in his city. Rubens was also a diplomat and often travelled for long periods. The letters written by him that have been preserved tell us a lot about the paintings of his time. How much did they cost, the best way to transport them, but also the cost of an additional angel or other religious symbol.

Food & drink; Frans Snijders was specialised in animal and kitchen pieces and one of Rubens’ pupils, who often called on him when living or dead animals, vegetables and fruit had to be portrayed in his own paintings: the pelt of a hare, juicy grapes, the hard shell of a bright red lobster on the shiny blue of Chinese porcelain.

Dignitaries; Thanks to the capital of well-to-do citizens, there is plenty of work for artists, especially for master builders and painters. Wealthy Amsterdammers enjoyed being portrayed with their wife and children.

Judith Leyster is the most well-known feminine painter of the Golden Age. After she had joined the Guild of St. Luke in Haarlem, she was the very first woman to be allowed to call herself a ‘master painter’. Judith Leyster attempted to paint cheerful ensembles and partying youngsters.

Farm life; Adriaen van Ostade and Adriaen Brouwer painted partying and fighting farmers. In their works farmers are invariably drunks who can’t keep their hands to themselves and are temperamental knife pullers.

Rembrandt lived in the Golden Age, in the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. So, what was so special about that era ? Visser & Filippova aim to capture, adapt and translate these stories about Rembrandt and his contemporaries into music and images for you, and to bring them to the theatres.

An evening with magnificant projections of the most beautiful paintings and wonderful music.