The master of the Dutch Golden Age certainly had style and the same can be said about the house where he lived for nearly 20 years, from 1639 to 1658. Rembrandt liked it expensive, luxurious and spacious and didn’t mind spending 13,000 guilders, an amount only earned by an ordinary man for over 40 years of work, on his 3 floor home.
Nonetheless Rembrandt was a very serious and committed businessman. Although he indeed owned a house that surpassed the standards of his time, there was little space for anything unrelated to art. We know this because in 1906 The City of Amsterdam bought the house and kindly handed it over to Stichting Rembrandthuis, the foundation that restored the interior to the way it was when the artist lived there.
For €12,50 visitors are able to see the master’s home just like it was. Visiting the studio where the artist composed many of his paintings, including his famous self-portrait series, is one of the highest points of the tour. The printing room is also another highlight: there, Rembrandt spent countless hours drawing, painting and printing etchings, trying to make the most of the light of this tiny and dimly lit room. The foundation that runs the museum also does a great job of giving a sense of life to each room with their etching and paint preparation demonstrations, conducted by friendly instructors who seem to know much about the techniques behind Rembrandt’s masterpieces.
The idea behind these demonstrations is not only to show how paint and ink were made in his time but also to keep the passion and interest for art running strong within his walls, just like it did hundreds of years ago when Rembrandt called it home. Art was, invariably, the centre of his life: what would have been his living room was used as an office to receive art dealers. Where a child’s bedroom would have been, Rembrandt kept his collection of rare objects – greek statues, indigenous feathers and tortoiseshells – and hung the best artwork of his pupils, of which there are thought to be more than 40.
Sadly, in 1658 he was forced to sell the house and everything under its roof as he went bankrupt. That spot on Sint Anthonisbreestraat (the street wasn’t yet called Jodenbreestraat) would no longer be home to one of history’s greatest artists, nor would it be shelter to dozens of art apprentices. Now, however, we are lucky enough to see the house as it once was and, incredibly, with Rembrandt’s techniques being remember and passed on each day – making this a place not to be missed.