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Ten landscapes by Rembrandt on view in the Old Master Drawings Cabinet at Chatsworth
Rembrandt, A thatched cottage by a large tree, a figure seated outside.

CHATSWORTH.- Considered one of the greatest draftsmen in the history of art, Rembrandt’s often deceptively simple style and the spontaneity and economy with which he sketched is evident in this new exhibition of landscape drawings at Chatsworth running from 10 March – 31 July.

‘Views from the riverbank: landscapes by Rembrandt’, displays ten works in the Old Master Drawings Cabinet and is described by curator Hannah Obee as “a private window on drawings made for pleasure”. Drawn as a means of relaxation, these views of his local landscape around Amsterdam show Rembrandt’s ability to conjure atmospheric effects and create space through economy of line and innovative use of the blank page.

Dating from around 1650, this was a time of great happiness in Rembrandt’s life having met his younger mistress Hendrickje Stoffels. These were private drawings kept in the artist’s studio, and then by his pupil Goveart Flinck whose son sold them after his father’s death. This is the first time they have been displayed for visitors at Chatsworth since they were purchased by the second Duke of Devonshire in 1724/25.

Taken from the Devonshire Collection, the exhibition is part of “a matchless group of Rembrandt’s views on the Amstel” according to the late Michael Jaffé, the renowned international authority on Old Master Drawings and cataloguer of the drawings at Chatsworth. Rembrandt’s painting ‘King Uzziah’ will join the display.

‘Views from the riverbank: landscapes by Rembrandt’ is one of three new Art exhibitions opening around the start of Chatsworth’s new season. ‘William Turnbull at Chatsworth’ runs from 10 March – 30 June in the North Sketch Gallery (house) and garden. It is the first major retrospective of the artist’s work since his death in November 2012 and includes large-scale outdoor sculpture, paintings and drawings. ‘Emma Tennant at Chatsworth: the Duke’s sister paints favourite plants at home and away’, runs from 24 March – 30 June in the New Gallery. The exhibition includes new watercolours, including plants in the garden at Chatsworth.

Art exhibitions will continue into the autumn with the Beyond Limits monumental sculpture exhibition in the garden as well as the ‘Modern Makers’ exhibition in the New Gallery (house). For the first time contemporary applied art including furniture, ceramics, metalwork and textiles from makers including Joseph Walsh, Maisie Broadhead and Junko Mori, has been commissioned to create a fresh take on Chatsworth’s State Rooms.

The Rembrandt exhibition includes:

•A thatched cottage by a large tree, a figure seated outside
This everyday scene shows a traditional farmhouse (langhuis): the farmer’s family lived in the upper part with its livestock beneath. A woman, probably the farmer’s wife, can just be seen, sitting outside the door; her washing dries on a pole hoisted between the house and tree. Rembrandt uses black ink and a quill pen for fine detail, while more impressionistic areas such as the thatched roof are depicted using a reed pen with dilute brown ink. The result is “an almost photographic sense of immediacy” (Nicolas Barker, The Devonshire Inheritance: Five Centuries of Collecting at Chatsworth).

•View of the River Ij from the Diemerdijk
This may have been drawn on the same day as ‘A thatched cottage by a large tree, a figure seated outside’. A masterly drawing, the choice of grey paper has been heightened with white body colour causing the great expanse of water and sky to merge.

•View on the Amstel: the road on the Amsteldijk leading to Trompenburg
Two versions of this view are displayed: the simpler, outline version was drawn in-situ. Rembrandt elaborated on this to create the populated, more finished version once back in the studio.

Following this exhibition the drawings will ‘go dark’ and will not be seen in public again for at least 4 years. This is the second phase of a rolling programme of exhibitions that began in 2012 with ‘World Class: Masterpieces from the Devonshire Collection’, a multi-artist show designed to show the scope and quality of the Collection and including Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Rubens and Titian.

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