A Web Catalogue of Rembrandt Paintings

Introduction


The year 2006 saw many great Rembrandt exhibitions, in celebration of the artist's alleged 400th birthday. Being familiar with some of Rembrandt's more famous works in the major museums in Amsterdam, Den Haag, London, Paris, and Saint Petersburg, I was completely blown away by the more than excellent exhibition 'Rembrandt - Quest of a Genius' in the Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam. The exhibition made me longing for more, so I wondered if I could find a complete overview of all paintings by Rembrandt on the Internet.

How naïve I was...

In my quest for an overview of all Rembrandt paintings on the web I found that nothing like that exists. Or actually, many overviews exist, but even the best ones are not even close to being complete. Worse even, among experts there is no consensus at all on the attribution of Rembrandt's works. One problem is that many autograph paintings have not been signed by Rembrandt at all. Also, many works that bear a 'Rembrandt' signature (either real or fake) may or may not have been painted (entirely, or in part) by the master himself. This is due to standard workshop habits in Rembrandt's time, but also due to dubious commercial practices in later centuries. Another problem is that many works have partially, or almost completely, been overpainted, either by students in Rembrandt's workshop, in restoration processes, or again for commercial reasons. Above all, the problem is that there is not a single identifiable 'Rembrandt-style' that - beyond any doubt - separates works by the master from those by his followers. As a result, serious attempts to authenticate Rembrandt paintings often are driven by (implicit) personal standards of quality that experts are willing to associate with Rembrandt. (For a great paper presenting insight in the complexities in this area, see "Truth in labeling" by Gary Schwartz, Art in America, Dec. 1995).

So, what to do now?

From the enormous pile of Rembrandt-overviews that exist, in printed form, and on the Internet, two seem to be most authorative (albeit contested and controversial at times). First, there is the 1935 catalogue by Abraham Bredius [5], which was revised and updated by Horst Gerson in 1969 [6]. The complete Bredius/Gerson list contains 630 works, of which Gerson himself has accepted 420 as autograph [9]. Next, there is the result of the more scientific approach by the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) [7,20,21]. The RRP has been researching for close to 40 years now; a verdict has been passed on about half of all putative Rembrandt paintings. Extrapolating on the current attributions (see also Statistics), it seems that the RRP will have accepted around 340 works once the research is finally finished. To make matters worse, five other 'modern' oeuvre catalogues, by Kurt Bauch in 1966 [1], Bolten & Bolten-Rempt in 1978 [4], Gary Schwartz in 1984 [13], Christian Tümpel in 1986 [16], and Leonard Slatkes in 1992 [14], incorporate 562, 575, 350, 265, and 315 autograph works respectively. Irrespective of the impressive connoisseurship of the experts that have compiled these lists, one inconvenient fact remains: even today many works continue to move back-and-forth between the lists of 'attributions' and 'rejections'.

Not a stable basis for a definite overview, is it?

Clearly, if one wants to have a 'complete overview of all Rembrandt paintings', it is essential to keep disputed paintings somewhere on the list. Also, one should be very well aware that even works with the strongest attributions may loose their 'status' later; the infamous de-attribution of the Berlin "Man in a gold helmet" is just one example. Similarly, strongly rejected paintings may once make a remarkable comeback (such as "The Mill" in Washington DC). In this respect, the overview of Rembrandt paintings published by Paolo Lecaldano in 1969 [11] is an interesting one. The Lecaldano list indeed includes many disputed and rejected paintings, giving a grand total of 451 'oeuvre paintings' plus an extra 206 'contested or formerly accepted paintings'. Importantly, all 630 works on the Bredius/Gerson list also appear on the Lecaldano list, and all 420 works accepted by Gerson are included in Lecaldano's 451 'oeuvre paintings'. Moreover, the 'oeuvre paintings' include important works that were left out by Bredius and Gerson, such as "Tobit and Anna" (National Gallery, London) and "Portrait of a man holding a hat" (Armand Hammer Collection, Los Angeles). For these reasons, it is the Lecaldano list that has served as the most important basis for this 'Web Catalogue of Rembrandt Paintings'.

So, what is this 'Web Catalogue' then, really?

The initial goal of this Web Catalogue was to bring together all 657 Lecaldano paintings, together with all works that have been discovered or re-attributed since the Lecaldano list was first published in 1969. The representation was to be similar to that of Google's "Image Search" results - so, each image was to be no larger than 150x150 pixels. In the process, all paintings evaluated in the RRP Corpus in the period 1982-2005 have been included as well, together with many works included in the catalogues published by the most authorative Rembrandt experts of the late 1800s and early 1900s: Bode [3], Hofstede de Groot [10], and Valentiner [17,18]. Over 90% of the reproductions included in the Web Catalogue have been obtained from the Internet. The remaining reproductions have been photographed by me from Valentiner's 1909 and 1921 catalogues (i.e. in black and white) - under the assumption that this is not a breach of any copyright regulations.

The included works are grouped into 6 periods, each containing approximately the same number of paintings. In each of these periods the works are categorized according to their current apparent status among Rembrandt experts (see also Disclaimer):
  • Category I: Generally accepted as autograph,
  • Category II: Disputed, doubted, or attributed without general support,
  • Category III: Generally rejected and/or attributed to an artist other than Rembrandt.
Within each of these categories the works are ordered by the year in which they were produced. Placing the mouse pointer over an image will show the painting's title, year, and location, together with the catalogue numbers taken from 14 different oeuvre catalogues published in the last 100 years (see below). If available, additional references to related literature are shown as well. Clicking generally gives a reproduction as found somewhere on the Internet.

How many paintings are included in the 'Web Catalogue'?

Currently, the Web Catalogue contains 253 Category I paintings, 119 Category II paintings, and 370 Category III paintings - a combined total of 742 works. As such, the Web Catalogue covers all works included in the oeuvre catalogues published by Bredius [5], Bauch [1], Gerson [9], Bredius/Gerson [6], Lecaldano [11], Bolten/Bolten-Rempt [4], Schwartz [13], Tümpel [16], and Slatkes [14], as well as all paintings discussed in the published RRP Corpus [7,20]. It also covers many - but certainly not all - paintings included in the more ancient catalogues published by Bode [3], Hofstede de Groot [10], and Valentiner [17,18]; the missing ones may be added at a later stage. Finally, I have personally included two paintings, both of which have not been part of the general Rembrandt literature: (1) "Mary Magdalene in meditation" (now attributed to Jan Lievens), and (2) "Head of an oriental with a cap" (which has disappeared from the Rembrandt literature after it was introduced by A. Bredius in 1924). I have decided to include these works, as it seems reasonable to consider both for further investigation.

Final remarks.

The Web Catalogue is not commercial; copyright and all rights therein are retained by the copyright holders. Also, the catalogue is not intended to provide high-resolution reproductions. Instead it intends to present the most complete Internet overview of the works by - or closely related to - one of the greatest painters of all time. The Web Catalogue does not pretend to be authorative; I am not a Rembrandt expert, and I do not have access to all the latest scientific results (see Disclaimer). Hence, the Web Catalogue undoubtedly will contain some errors - but I have tried my best to be as complete and accurate as possible. Finally, electronic and paper reproductions can never replace the actual paintings themselves - so please take this Web Catalogue as an incentive to go and see 'the real thing'.

Enjoy!

FJS.

Complete Oeuvre Catalogues


  1. Bauch, K., "Rembrandt Gemälde",
    Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin 1966.

  2. Bode, W. von, "Studien zur Geschichte der holländischen Malerei",
    Braunschweig 1883.

  3. Bode, W. von, Hofstede de Groot, C., "Rembrandt: beschreibendes Verzeichnis - Gemälde mit den
    heliographischen Nachbildungen
    ", Paris 1897-1905.

  4. Bolten, J., H. Bolten-Rempt, "The Hidden Rembrandt",
    Phaidon Press, Oxford 1978.

  5. Bredius, A., "Rembrandt Schilderijen. 630 Afbeeldingen",
    Uitgeversmaatschappij W. de Haan N.V., Utrecht 1935.

  6. Bredius, A., "Rembrandt. The Complete Edition of the Paintings",
    Revised by H. Gerson, Phaidon Press Ltd., London 1969.

  7. Bruyn, J., et al., "A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings" (Vols. I, II, III),
    Den Haag / Boston / London 1982 (I), 1986 (II), 1989 (III).

  8. Dutuit, E., "Tableaux et dessins de Rembrandt. Catalogue historique et descriptif",
    Supplément à: L'oeuvre complet de Rembrandt (Paris 1883), Paris 1885.

  9. Gerson, H., "Rembrandt Paintings",
    Amsterdam 1968.

  10. Hofstede de Groot, C., "Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten
    holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts
    " (Band VI), Paul Neff Verlag, Esslingen 1915.
    (note: a version of this book - in English, edited by Edward G. Hawke, 1916 - is available here)

  11. Lecaldano, P., "Tout l'Oeuvre Peint de Rembrandt" (introduction by F. Jacques),
    Flammarion (coll. "Les classiques de l'art"), Paris 1971 (original in Italian, Milan 1969).

  12. Rosenberg, J., "Rembrandt: Life and Work",
    Phaidon Press, London 1964.

  13. Schwartz, G., "Rembrandt. Zijn Leven, Zijn Schilderijen: een nieuwe Biografie",
    Maarssen, Gary Schwartz, 1984.

  14. Slatkes, L.J., "Rembrandt: Catalogo Completo dei Dipinti",
    Cantini, Firenze 1992.

  15. Smith, J., "A Catalogue Raissoné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters"
    (Volume VII, Rembrandt van Rhyn; Volume IX, Supplement), London 1836/1842.
    (note: the 1836 version of this book is available here; the 1842 supplement here).

  16. Tümpel, C., "Rembrandt",
    H.J.W. Becht, Amsterdam 1986 (tweede verbeterde druk, Antwerpen 1993).

  17. Valentiner, W.R., "Rembrandt: Des Meisters Gemälde in 643 Abbildungen",
    Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart-Leipzig, 1909.
    (note: an illustrated version - in English, with a foreword by Adolf Rosenberg, 1913 - is available here)

  18. Valentiner, W.R., "Rembrandt: Wiedergefundene Gemälde (1910-1920) in 120 Abbildungen",
    Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart-Berlin, 1921.

  19. Vosmaer, C., "Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn, sa vie et ses oeuvre. Seconde édition, entièrement
    refondue et augmentée
    ", Den Haag-Paris, Martinus Nijhoff-Renouard, 1877 (first edition, 1868).

  20. Wetering, E. van de, et al., "A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings IV: The Self-Portraits",
    Dordrecht 2005.

  21. Wetering, E. van de, et al., "A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings V: Small Figured History Pieces",
    Springer Verlag 2008

Additional Literature and Suggested Reading


  1. Alexander-Knotter, M., J. Hillegers, E. van Voolen, "De 'Joodse' Rembrandt: De Mythe Ontrafeld",
    Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam / Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle 2006.

  2. Blankert, A., "Rembrandt. A Genius and his Impact",
    National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne / Art Exhibitions Australia Ltd., Sydney / Waanders Publishers, Zwolle 1997.

  3. Bomford, D., J. Kirby, A. Roy, A. Rüger, R. White, "Art in the Making: Rembrandt",
    National Gallery Company Ltd., London 2006.

  4. Brown, C., J. Kelch, P. van Thiel, "Rembrandt: De Meester & zijn Werkplaats",
    Rijksmuseum Amsterdam / Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle 1991.

  5. Chong, A., et al., "Rembrandt Creates Rembrandt: Art and Ambition in Leiden, 1629 - 1631",
    Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston / Waanders Publishers, Zwolle 2000.

  6. Haak, B., "Rembrandt. Zijn Leven, Zijn Werk, Zijn Tijd",
    Amsterdam, 1968.

  7. Schama, S., "De Ogen van Rembrandt",
    Uitgeverij Contact, Amsterdam / Antwerpen 1999.

  8. Schwartz, G., "De Grote Rembrandt",
    Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle 2006.

  9. Straten, R. van, "Young Rembrandt. The Leiden Years, 1606-1632" (with I. Moerman),
    Foleor Publishers, Leiden 2005.

  10. Vogelaar, C., G. Korevaar, "Rembrandt's Mother: Myth and Reality",
    Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, Leiden / Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle 2005.

  11. Vogelaar, C., G.J.M. Weber, "Rembrandts Landschappen",
    Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, Leiden / Staatliche Museen Kassel / Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle 2006.

  12. Wetering, E. van de, "Rembrandt: The Painter at Work",
    Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam 1997.

  13. Wetering, E. van de, et al., "Rembrandt: Zoektocht van een Genie",
    Museum Het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam / Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle 2006.

  14. Wheelock, A.K., "Rembrandts Late Religieuze Portretten",
    Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle / National Gallery of Art, Washington 2006.

  15. White, C., Q. Buvelot, "Rembrandt by Himself",
    Mauritshuis, Den Haag / National Gallery, London / Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle 1999.

Links


  1. Rembrandt: life, paintings, etchings, drawings & self portraits
  2. Rembrandt Research Project
  3. The official website of the Rembrandt 400 year
  4. Anarkasis - Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
  5. Art Renewal Center - Rembrandt
  6. Artcyclopedia - Rembrandt van Rijn
  7. Artpx - Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn
  8. Bildarchiv - Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (German)
  9. Columbia University, Media Center for Art History and Archaeology - Rembrandt
  10. CFGA - Rembrandt
  11. Ciudad de la pintura - Rembrandt (Spanish)
  12. CopiArte - Rembrandt van Rijn
  13. Die wichtigsten Rembrant-Museen (German)
  14. Fine Art Prints on Demand - Rembrandt
  15. Gallery 319: Rembrandt
  16. Gemäldesammlung nach Themen der Lehrpläne (German)
  17. InfoFineArt - Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
  18. Kings Galleries - Rembrandt van Rijn
  19. MyArtPrints - Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
  20. OCAIW - Rembrandt van Rijn
  21. Oceansbridge - Oil Paintings of Rembrandt
  22. Oil Paint Shop - Rembrandt van Rijn
  23. Olga's Gallery - Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
  24. Rembrandt: Autoportraits (French)
  25. Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (Bulgarian)
  26. Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (Russian)
  27. Rembrandt myself...
  28. Rembrandt van Rijn (Taiwanese)
  29. Réunion des musées nationaux (French)
  30. Scholars Resource - Rembrandt van Rijn
  31. Web Gallery Of Art - Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
  32. Web Museum - Rembrandt
  33. Wikimedia Commons - Rembrandt