The Cultural Garden of Amsterdam

23 Oct 2016

Old-fashioned Pleasures

Those who think that the use of modern technology is what makes or breaks a museum have clearly not visited Rembrandthuis yet. Travel 400 years back in time and discover the sleeping, eating and, of course, painting arrangements of Rembrandt. In his studio, they still make the paint out of the same pigment that he used, and two stories lower you can examine the workings of a 17th-century press.

Between the sheets, ink and a big wooden press you will find an American man shrouded in a big apron. With the ink he greases an iron plate, which bears an engraving of one of Rembrandt’s images. In the old days, dogs were a useful resource for the printing procedure, as their skin has few pores (that’s why they gasp and pant so much) – therefore, dog leather does not absorb much ink so nothing dries out. It makes a perfect tool for spreading the ink, which back in the day was made of burnt animal bones.

After being invited to feel the different sorts of paper Rembrandt could choose from, the American puts a sheet of paper on the inked-in plate. Due to the relief of the plate, not everything turns black, which is on purpose. The whole package is sent under the press a second time et voila! A Rembrandt is born!

The audio tour will lead you through the rest of the house and you will hear not only the stories of the many paintings on the walls, but also those of arguments between Rembrandt and his mistress about alimony payments for their extramarital child. This old house offers the perfect combination of gossip, art and old-fashioned craft.

posted by José Boon

‘As a student of Public History at the University of Amsterdam, I've visited most of the museums in the Plantage and report here on my experiences!’

José Boon,
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