Amsterdam Museum celebrates 350 Years of the 'First Instagrammer'

In a first of its kind exhibition, Rijksmuseum is showing all its Rembrandts

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Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum unveiled on February 13, 2019, the first ever exhibition of all of its Rembrandts, marking the 350th anniversary of the death of the prolific painter it dubs the “first Instagrammer”.

Before it was Mainstream

The landmark exhibition, titled All the Rembrandts, featuring nearly 400 paintings, drawings and sketches aims to show how the Golden Age master’s compulsive self-portraits and renderings of the world around him prefigure our modern world.

“Rembrandt was the first artist in history – the first 'Instagrammer' one could even say – to really capture the world around him,” said Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits. “No artist made as many self-portraits as Rembrandt. He painted his family, he drew his friends, he went out into the streets, the countryside, and he even let us enter his own bedroom to where his sick wife was stretched out.”

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Final Chance

The exhibition will be a final chance to glimpse his masterpiece “The Night Watch” before the huge tableau is obscured by months of restoration work from July. But it is also a rare opportunity to see lesser works by Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606-1669).

Once in a Lifetime

“For the first time in history, the Rijksmuseum is showing every Rembrandt that we own: 22 paintings, 300 sketches, 60 drawings,” said Dibbits. Many of those are normally kept from the public because they are so fragile three centuries after their creation. “Light makes the drawings fade, so we almost never show them. An exhibition like this only happens once in a generation.”

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Time to Reflect

Many visitors will simply relish the chance to admire the museum’s entire Rembrandt collection including the self-portraits which follow him from fresh-faced man-about-town to a dimly-lit, grizzled artist struggling with age and money problems. But curators also hope the extensive collection will make them reflect on the social media-obsessed age.

“If I use words like ‘selfie’ and ‘Instagram’, it’s because Rembrandt fashioned the way we look at the world and the way we take photographs,” the director of the museum added. “Without Rembrandt, we would still be painting or trying to paint pictures of gods and goddesses and scenes from antiquity. What he did was to make these extraordinary stories ordinary – and make our ordinary lives extraordinary.”

Year of Rembrandt

The Rijksmuseum is marking the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death in 2019 with ‘The Year of Rembrandt’. It is expected to be “an extraordinary year full with exhibitions and special events celebrating the work of one of the world’s greatest artists,” states the museum’s website. The year-long celebration opens with the ‘All the Rembrandts’ exhibition from February 15 to June 10, 2019.


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