Seven of Rembrandts most expressive portraits will be on view in a new exhibition, entitled Rembrandts People, opening this fall at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
. The exhibition will feature Rembrandts powerful figure paintings, which are hailed as his greatest artistic achievement. Borrowed from leading museums in both America and Canada and two private collections, Rembrandts People will bring the first authentic Rembrandt paintings to Hartford in almost 70 years. The exhibition will showcase works from throughout the artists career, including his iconic Self Portrait from 1659. Rembrandts People opens October 10, 2009 and is on view through January 24, 2010.
Rembrandts People is the first exhibition in the Wadsworths Masterpiece Series, which will take place over the next two years and consist of small, dossier exhibitions that will bring some of the worlds greatest art to Hartford and highlight the depth of the Wadsworths permanent collection. The next exhibition, Reunited Couples, will reunite several of the Wadsworths paintings with their pendants now located in other museums around the world, allowing visitors to better appreciate how these works were originally conceived and how the artists subtly adjusted one picture to complement the other.
Rembrandts People will feature nine paintings, encouraging visitors to look closely at Rembrandts most expressive portraits. Rembrandt was already recognized during the seventeenth century for his unusual powers of observation, said Dr. Eric Zafran, the Susan Morse Hilles Curator of European Art at the Wadsworth, who organized the exhibition. Whether they are commissioned portraits, imaginary portraits, self-portraits, or depictions of his family and friends in Amsterdam, each of these works reveal the artists distinctive, insightful style, presenting human beings that connect across the centuries in a direct way with the viewer.
What distinguishes these particular portraits by Rembrandt, Zafran added, is their outward realism and the artists ability to evoke his subjects inner spiritual being. In particular, Rembrandts use of paint to create light and atmosphere focuses our concentration on his subjects faces and truly illuminates the vulnerable humanity of these figures.
Each painting in the exhibition has its own significance, but particularly outstanding is Rembrandts powerful Self Portrait, which he painted at age fifty-three. On loan from the National Gallery in Washington, the portrait depicts a man whose life and career are in decline, but who still presents a determined attitude.
In addition to the self portrait, Rembrandts People will present a range of iconic portraits including Rembrandts depiction of a humble young Jewish man (ca. 1663), on loan from the Kimbell Art Museum, to the well-dressed Lady with a Lap Dog (ca. 1662), from the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, which has recently been restored to fully reveal its lively broad strokes of red paint.
The Wadsworths own connection to Rembrandt has been elusive and debate over the authenticity of Rembrandt paintings continues within the art world. Included in the exhibition are two portrait paintings originally acquired by the Wadsworth as Rembrandts, but both attributed by later research to the School of Rembrandt. The exhibition of these two paintings along side their authentic counterparts will enable visitors to make direct comparisons between Rembrandts own work and that of his studio.