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Jan Six Portrait by Rembrandt on Display at the Rijksmuseum
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Portrait of Jan Six, 1654. Six collection, Amsterdam.

AMSTERDAM.- The exhibition Rembrandt & Jan Six. An Amsterdam friendship will be on display at the Rijksmuseum from 7 September to 29 November 2010. Rembrandt’s world-famous portrait of Jan Six will be brought to the Rijksmuseum specially for this exhibition. The portrait has been part of the private collection of the Six family from Amsterdam since the 17th century and it is rarely available for public viewing. Twenty works on paper, which tell the story of the development of the portrait, will also be exhibited in the Print Room.

This beautiful 17th-century portrait is only rarely lent out by the Six family; however, as the Six estate is currently undergoing major renovation, the portrait is temporarily on display in the Rijksmuseum. Six is depicted in an unusually informal, relaxed and nonchalant manner, creating the illusion of a snapshot of a man about to put on his gloves… or is he about to take them off?

The work of art currently on display is by no means Rembrandt’s first portrait of Six. Rembrandt’s first known etching of Six, which dates back to 1647, will also be exhibited with its accompanying sketches. Rembrandt played with the idea of depicting Six as a country nobleman, however, the artist probably considered his first version to be too rustic. In the second drawing Six is depicted as a studious devotee to the arts. Various ‘states’ of the etching will also be exhibited, as well as the copper plate that has always remained in the Six collection.

The exhibition will also include a number of informal pre-17th-century etched portraits, in which the subject does not look out of the portrait, but is seemingly ‘caught’ in action. It would seem that the portrait of publisher Clemendt de Jonghe is a prelude to the painting of Six, as De Jonghe is also wearing a wide-brimmed hat, an elegant coat and gloves.

It has been established that Six and Rembrandt knew one another. They belonged to completely different social classes in Amsterdam and Jan Six – as was fitting for a wealthy man like himself - commissioned work by Rembrandt. Rembrandt dedicated paintings to Six and in return Six lent money to Rembrandt to help him pay off his debts. Considering the strikingly relaxed manner of painting used for the portrait, Six must have been a great admirer of Rembrandt’s work. For his part, Rembrandt must have known that his style, which was very unusual for the time, would be well-received and that his portrait would be accepted by Six.

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