In the Netherlands, Leiden, Rembrandt’s hometown, exhibits his early paintings

The Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden (Netherlands), located a stone’s throw from where Rembrandt’s (1606-1669) workshop must have been, presented four paintings to journalists. The exhibition will be held from January 20 to June 16, 2024.

Exposure "Rembrandt's Four Senses - His First Paintings" at De Lakenhal Museum in Leiden (Netherlands), January 18, 2024. (REMKO DE WAAL / ANP / AFP)

Rembrandt’s early works, painted when the Dutch master was just 18 years old, will soon (20 January – 16 June 2024) be exhibited together for the first time in his hometown of Leiden in the western Netherlands.

These works are part of a series illustrating the senses: “The Spectacle Salesman (The Sight)”, “Three Singers (Bankruptcy)”, “Unconscious Patient (Smell)” AND “Operation (Touch)”.


Strangely no fifth Rembrandt in the series – “taste” – was not found. “It is very mysterious. We are almost certain that Rembrandt made five paintings in this series because there are five senses and not four,” Museum curator Janneke van Asperen told AFP.“We have no idea where he might be. Maybe he’s still up there somewhere, in the attic. Or maybe he’s lost. Of course we hope to find him.” she added.

Talent from a young age

The works show that from a young age Rembrandt was willing to break convention, according to the museum. The senses then usually represented elegant female figures. “The talent we see in these works is already quite exceptional,” notes Mrs. Van Asperen.

However, some aspects of the paintings are clearly the work of a very inexperienced painter, such as the depiction of heads, he notes. These early works show signs of what would become Rembrandt’s signature, such as broad brushstrokes and the use of chiaroscuro, an oil technique involving strong contrasts between dark and light, to create three-dimensional figures with dramatic effect. “Of course he’s going to be a master at it, and we’re seeing the beginning of it here,” the curator stated. “We look forward to presenting to Dutch and international visitors the very first works of his hand and the talent that the artist has shown at such a young age,” said museum director Tanja Elstgeest

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