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14 February 2017

The Rembrandt Database Newsletter #6, February 2017












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26 January 2017

31 paintings added to the database


In the last couple of days we’ve published data on 31 paintings from the following collections:

- Bijbels Museum, Amsterdam

- Museum Wasserburg Anholt, Anholt

- Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerpen

- Moa Museum, Atami

- Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland

- Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie, Dessau

- National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

- Uffizi Gallery, Florence

- The Burrell Collection, Glasgow

- The Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow

- Göteborgs Konstmuseum, Gothenburg

- Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg

- Israel Museum, Jerusalem

- The Speed Art Museum, Louisville

- Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis

- Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo

- Kunsthaus, Zürich




Follower of Rembrandt, Old man praying, c. 1661, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland (Ohio), inv. no. 1967.16








On these paintings you will find art-historical information and technical documentation which is held at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and/or by Dr. Peter Klein in Hamburg and/or at The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) in Amsterdam/Amersfoort.


9 January 2017

Online as of now: Karlsruhe’s Self Portrait


As of today technical documentation and art-historical information of the ‘Self Portrait with beret and red cloak’ from the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Karlsruhe are available on The Rembrandt Database. The Staatliche Kunsthalle was so generous to share their documentation, including an ultraviolet photograph of 1998 and an examination report by Dr. Hermann Kühn.




ultraviolet light studies: black and white photograph (print), 1998, Rembrandt Self Portrait with beret and red cloak, c. 1645, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, inv./cat. no. 238







Many thanks to Dr. Holger Jacob-Friesen (chief curator) and Annette Fischer (department of reproductions) from the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Karlsruhe, who provided us with the technical information and documentation.


Aside from the documentation which we received from the Staatliche Kunsthalle, documentation from other institutions on this painting was also added to the database. Such as an X-ray from 1956 held at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.


13 December 2016

New documentation in The Rembrandt Database



Today we published the art-historical information and technical documentation of paintings from the collection of The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (UK); Musée Départemental des Vosges, Epinal; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester; The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota; Museum Bredius, The Hague; Musée des Beaux-arts, Tours and Galleria Sabauda, Turin.




12 October 2016

All 26 Rembrandt paintings from the Gemäldegalerie now online


The extensive art-historical information and the visual and textual data that has emerged from technical analyses of all 26 Rembrandt paintings in the collection of the Berlin Gemäldegalerie are now available in The Rembrandt Database.


The Gemäldegalerie presides over one of the most comprehensive collections of Rembrandt paintings in the world. These paintings have been the subject of a long-term interdisciplinary research project, made possible by the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. All relevant information covered in the project has been made accessible to the public as part of the online Rembrandt Database. The database offers the documentation in the form of high quality digital files with extensive associated metadata, which will be useful for new research.


We would like to thank Dr. Katja Kleinert (research associate, history of art, Gemäldegalerie) and Claudia Laurenze-Landsberg (research associate, art technology and expert in neutron-activation autoradiographs, Gemäldegalerie) for the pleasant collaboration and for sharing their data in the Rembrandt Database.


For the press release, click here.


12 September 2016

The Rembrandt Database Newsletter #5, September 2016












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17 May 2016

The Rembrandt Database Newsletter #4, May 2016












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7 April 2016

Rijksmuseum X-Radiographs online


The Rijksmuseum keeps a large collection of X-radiographs of not only paintings from their own collection, but also of paintings from other institutions. A large part of these X-ray films were produced during the great Rembrandt exhibition, which was held at the Rijksmuseum and the museum Boijmans van Beuningen (then Museum Boymans) in 1956.


Thanks to the collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, X-radiographs of paintings from the Mauritshuis in The Hague, the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam and the Gemäldegaleries in Berlin, Dresden and Kassel were added to The Rembrandt Database.

X-ray film, 18 June 1956, Rembrandt Bust of a young woman smiling possibly Saskia van Uylenburgh, dated 1633, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, inv./cat. no. 1556







The Rijksmuseum has been very generous in sharing their data. More X-radiographs from the Rijksmuseum of paintings from other collections will be presented in the Rembrandt Database in stages over the course of the project.


1 Februari 2016

Available as of now: our third newsletter!












In issue #3 you can read, amongst other items, about our plans for 2016.


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10 December 2015

Another 14 paintings from the Rijksmuseum online as of now!


Today art-historical information and technical documentation of a second group of ‘Rembrandt’ paintings has been added to The Rembrandt Database website. The total number of paintings from this institution in our database has now increased to 28, with more than 2000 documents or records with meta data.


In september last year the first group of 14 paintings from the Rijksmuseum, including "The Nightwatch", was presented on our website. The second group consists of more of the smaller and mostly earlier works by Rembrandt or works formerly ascribed to him. Among them are the "Musical company", "Joseph telling his dreams to his parents and his brothers" and "Landscape with a stone bridge". Like the other paintings all of them are presented with a comprehensive list of the history of conservation and research. Information on earlier treatments is provided, such as the one of "Old man in military costume" (copy after Rembrandt) by the conservator H. Heydenrijk in 1903, in addition to more recent conservation programs. See for instance the before, during and after pictures of the 2005-2006 restoration of "Tobit and Anna with the Kid".



left: photograph, 10 August 2005, before treatment, right: photograph, 24 January 2006, after treatment, Rembrandt "Tobit and Anna with the Kid", dated 1626, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inv./cat. no. SK-A-4717




While working on the documentation from the Rijksmuseum, documentation from other researchers was also added to our database. Therefore you will also be able to find information on X-radiographs by Alan Burroughs and dendrochronology reports by Peter Klein in the records of the Rijksmuseum paintings.

Research curator Jonathan Bikker, documentalist Bas Nederveen, and conservators Petria Noble, Ige Verslype, Anna Krekeler and Gwen Tauber have provided the database with data and have been working on the presentation in close collaboration with the RKD.


2 November 2015

Alan Burroughs X-Radiographs online


One of the partners of The Rembrandt Database is the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies (Harvard Art Museums) in Cambridge MA. This institute houses the Alan Burroughs Collection of X-Radiographs; the first systematic, large-scale X-ray documentation project assembled to address issues of the authenticity and attribution of paintings. Many of the X-rays were produced between 1925 and 1944 by Alan Burroughs (1897-1965)- a Harvard graduate (1920) who became a Fogg Museum research fellow and the keeper of X-ray "shadowgraphs". Today the collection contains approximately 8,000 X-radiographs of over 4,450 paintings from collections in America and Europe.


Alan Burroughs, Harvard University Archives







The Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies has enriched the database with the Burroughs X-radiographs of paintings in the following collections: Amsterdam Museum, Louvre, Mauritshuis, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, National Gallery of Art in Washington, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Gemäldegaleries in Kassel and Berlin. More X-radiographs of paintings from other collections will be launched in stages over the course of the project.


22 October 2015

Two new Rembrandt paintings online from the Gemäldegalerie Berlin


The art historical information and technical documents of “The man with the golden helmet” and “Susanna and the elders” from the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin are now available on The Rembrandt Database.


Circle of Rembrandt, The man with the golden helmet, c. 1650, oil on canvas, 67.5 x 50.7 cm, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, cat. no.811





In 1985/1986 the painting “The man with the golden helmet” was restored and studied with autoradiography, infrared photography, normal light, ultraviolet light, X-radiography and sample analyses were carried out by the Doerner Institut in Munich. After the technical examination, the Gemäldegalerie Berlin finally concluded that the painting was not by Rembrandt but by someone from his circle. The documents pertaining these studies and the treatment can now be viewed on the database.


1 October 2015

Second Rembrandt Database Newsletter now available












In issue #2 you can read items about three new additions to our website, information about how you can contribute to the database and an introduction of our team member Wietske Donkersloot. You can find the newsletter by clicking on the image.


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1 October 2015

New documentation online of three Dresden Rembrandts


Today the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden – Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister presented three Rembrandt paintings in the database: “Self portrait with a bittern”, “The wedding of Samson” and “Portrait of a man”. All three paintings were part of the Elector’s Gemäldegalerie in Dresden already in the first half of the 18th century.


Most of the major works in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister were assembled within little more than half a century. The systematic collecting of paintings began during the reigns of August the Strong (1670 – 1733) and his son August III (1696 – 1763). His agents purchased 16th, 17th and 18th century paintings, including works by Rembrandt.



The collaboration with the Dresden Gemäldegalerie will continue in order to present more Rembrandt paintings in The Rembrandt Database.




9 July 2015

Rembrandt refurbished by Reynolds


As of today the art-historical information and technical documents of “Susanna and the elders” and two other Rembrandt paintings from the collection of the Gemäldegalerie Berlin (“Self-portrait with a velvet beret” and “Samson betrayed by Delilah”) are available on the Rembrandt Database.


As already mentioned in the news item below, technical analysis and research on the Susanna painting have delivered sensational findings. Recently Katja Kleinert and Claudia Laurenze-Landsberg (Rembrandt research project Gemäldegalerie Berlin) discovered that Sir Joshua Reynolds, who owned the painting between 1769-1792, made significant changes to the painting. During his lifetime, Reynolds was already notorious for his love of technical and material experiments. Reynolds routinely “restored“ paintings and bought old masters, in order to study their paint structure, occasionally by stripping away all the paint layers.


The condition of the Susanna painting is very good because it was painted on tropical wood. According to Kleinert and Laurenze Landsberg there was therefore no necessity for Reynolds to restore it. The reworking cannot have been a repair: Reynolds must have intended to improve it. Perhaps Reynolds intended to make the painting more „rembrandtesque“ in accordance with the 18th century conception of that term.


The collaboration with the Berlin Gemäldegalerie will be continued for the presentation of more Rembrandt paintings on The Rembrandt Database.


21 May 2015

The first Rembrandt Database Newsletter












Issue #1 contains updates on the project and an introduction of our project manager Sytske Weidema. You can read the newsletter here.


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22 April 2015

The Frick Collection adds five paintings to The Rembrandt Database


The Frick Collection has enriched the database with its five Rembrandt paintings and rich art historical and provenance information, and thorough bibliographies. Among its important Rembrandt collection is the Polish rider, a painting with much debate about the subject. Also of great interest are the lengthy so called Suhr reports, written by William Suhr in the sixties and seventies. The documentation contains excellent recently taken normal light photographs.


Thamar Weidema (at the time project associate of the Rembrandt Database) and staff from The Frick Collection and Frick Reference Library have done an enormous amount of work to sort out the documentation and metadata.


2 April 2015

Now open: exhibition “The Creation of a Masterpiece. Rembrandt's Berlin Susanna and the Elders” in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin


Among the many important works by Rembrandt in the Gemäldegalerie's possession is his masterpiece Susanna and the Elders. The painting's theme is the Old-Testament story of Susanna, the virtuous wife of a rich man, who is observed bathing by two lecherous old judges who blackmail her to grant them sexual favors (which Susanna refuses). The original inspiration for the work was a painting by his teacher, Pieter Lastman. Rembrandt painted the Berlin painting in three stages. He started the panel painting sometime around 1635 and only completed it twelve years later, in 1647.


Rembrandt, Susanna and the Elders, c. 1638-1647, oil on panel, 76.6 x 92.7 cm, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, cat. no. 828E




During the creation of the painting, Rembrandt made studies at each stage of the pentimenti (alterations to the composition). The story of Susanna was during this time also a subject in his workshop as a whole, as seen in numerous depictions of her in drawings by his pupils. The exhibition is jointly organized by the Gemäldegalerie and Kupferstichkabinett and takes a closer look at the pentimenti. Also on display are the variations on the theme made by Rembrandt's pupils. Technical analysis and research have also delivered sensational findings: we now know that significant changes were made to the painting by the English artist and collector Sir Joshua Reynolds, who owned the painting at one point.


Rembrandt, Study of Susanna bathing, c. 1647, black and white chalk, 204 x 164 mm, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin




Thanks to the close collaboration with the Gemäldegalerie the comprehensive art historical information and rich technical documentation of the painting Susanna and the Elders will soon be available in The Rembrandt Database.


Extend of the revisions made by Reynolds





The exhibition “The Creation of a Masterpiece. Rembrandt's Berlin Susanna and the Elders” is on view until May 31 in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.


5 February 2015

New paint sample documentation online


The RCE (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands) in Amsterdam/Amersfoort presents new paint sample documentation in The Rembrandt Database. They keep samples and sample documentation from Karin Groen, who carried out sample analyses on paintings worldwide. In particular, she performed many sample examinations on paintings in the frame of the Art and Autoradiography project at The Metropolitan Museum in the early 80’s. Colleagues from RCE and The Rembrandt Database have been working closely together on this documentation in the past year. They rephotographed Groen’s samples and digitized text documentation and is available as of now on the website.


Images and reports on sample analyses performed by another partner of The Rembrandt Database, the Doerner Institut in Munich, have also been published in the database. This institute keeps sample documentation from Prof. Dr. Hermann Kühn. In the 60’s he took the samples at the painting's institution with a stereomicroscope after which he analyzed them at the Doerner Institut in Munich. Visitors of the database can now view the digitized sample images and text documents.


Many thanks to Muriel Geldof, Klaas-Jan van den Berg and Margriet van Eikema Hommes from the RCE and to Andreas Burmeister and Jeanine Walcher from the Doerner Institut in Munich, who have generously provided the database with the data and have been working on the presentation in close collaboration with the RKD.


8 October 2014

A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings available


Click for A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings

The complete first five volumes of A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings are accessible on the Rembrandt Database website as of today.

Presently, the volumes are presented with basic functionality and – out of necessity – a somewhat limited quality of images to make the files light enough to present them through the standard Adobe viewer. In due time, the files will be offered through a more sophisticated viewer, with additional functionality (clickable contents page, etc.). Thank you for your understanding and patience.


The RKD has acquired the digital files from the publishers (Springer) to present them online as part of the Rembrandt Database. All rights remain with the publishers.


30 September 2014

14 Paintings from the Rijksmuseum added to the Rembrandt Database


(Technical) documents of 14 paintings from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are now accessible on the Rembrandt Database. Documents about masterpieces such as the Nightwatch, the Jewish Bride and the Syndics are among them.


An overview of the conservation and research history with related images and texts are presented together with art historical information about the paintings. A large part of the documents are connected to the “Late Rembrandt Project” in the 90’s. During this project eight Rembrandt paintings of the Rijksmuseum were restored. Before restoration all the paintings were thoroughly studied. All treatments were preceded and accompanied by material research. Some of the examination methods used were: x-radiography, infrared photography, sample analysis, normal light studies, ultraviolet light studies, raking light studies and stereomicroscopy.


The rich documentation of the Rijksmuseum provided the Rembrandt Database with 1693 documents.


infrared photograph (black and white print), 1991-05-25, before treatment (Rembrandt, Portrait of a couple as Isaac and Rebecca also known as “The jewish bride”, ca. 1662-1666, oil on canvas, The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam on loan from the city of Amsterdam (bequest of A. van der Hoop) SK-C-216)


Research curator Jonathan Bikker, documentalist René Blekman, and conservators Ige Verslype, Anna Krekeler and Gwen Tauber have provided the database with data and have been working on the presentation in close collaboration with the RKD. Collaboration with the Rijksmuseum will be continued during the next project phase. Not only will we add more paintings of the Rijksmuseum to our database, but it is also our goal to make accessible all the x-rays of Rembrandt paintings the Rijksmuseum holds that are not part of their collection.


29 August 2014

Available as of now information and documentation about the Kassel Rembrandts


Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Museumlandschaft Hessen Kassel) presents a wealth of information and documentation about five Rembrandt paintings. Of each painting normal light images, X-rays, infraredreflectographs, written documents etc. are available for the visitors of the database. The new data includes the painting “Jacob blessing Manasseh and Ephraim”, which was damaged by an acid-spraying vandal on 7 October 1977. Before and after treatment documents are now accessible on The Rembrandt Database.


black and white photograph (print), 8 October 1977, after acid attack, (Rembrandt, “Jacob blessing Manasseh and Ephraim”, signed and dated: Rembran[dt] / f. 1656, oil on canvas, 175 x 210.5 cm, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel) inv. no. GK 249, record 16100).


Anne Harmssen, Thomas Krämer and Christiane Ehrenforth of the Kassel paintings conservation department have made the documents available and provided us the technical information. We are grateful to dr. Justus Lange (chief curator Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Kassel), who assisted us in the art historical research.


28 August 2014

New addition to the Rembrandt Database : Rembrandts “Deyman”


The latest addition to the Rembrandt Database: the severely damaged fragment of Rembrandts “Anatomy lesson of doctor Joan Deyman” from the Amsterdam Museum.


This famous painting has been treated many times in the past. The Rembrandt Database holds documents of almost all these treatments. Especially the restoration of 1990-1994 is very rich in technical documentation. Many of the documents were made available by the Rijksmuseum who held the painting until 1994.


For this launch the RKD worked in collaboration with Judith van Gent, Team manager documentation and Norbert Middelkoop, curator of paintings, prints and drawings both at the Amsterdam Museum and the department Collection Information of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.


26 August 2014

Four paintings from Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden – Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister online as of now


Documents from four Rembrandt paintings from Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden – Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister have been online since August 26th. Visitors of The Rembrandt Database can now view the comprehensive art historical information and technical documentation of the paintings “Bust of a young woman smiling possibly Saskia van Uylenburgh”, “Saskia van Uylenburgh as Flora”, The rape of Ganymede” and “Self portrait as the prodigal son”. Especially about “The rape of Ganymede” a wealth of documentation is available on The Rembrandt Database. From 2003 until 2005 “The rape of Ganymede” was restored and studied with normal light, infrared, raking light, X-radiography and sample analyses was carried out in collaboration with the Doerner Institut in Munich.


Marina Langner and Christoph Schölzel (conservators Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden) have generously provided the database with the technical documents and data. Many thanks to Uta Neidhardt (curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden) , who assisted us in the art historical research.


18 August 2014

Documents from two paintings from the National Gallery of Art in Washington available on The Rembrandt Database


The National Gallery of Art in Washington presents the art historical information and technical documentation from the paintings “The Apostle Paul” and “Self-portrait” in The Rembrandt Database. The two paintings have been studied with normal light, X-ray radiography, infrared reflectography, ultraviolet photography and under a stereomicroscope. In the (recent) past Melanie Gifford (Research Conservator for Painting Technology in the Scientific Research Department of the NGA) took several samples of the paintings and examined the cross sections. The documents pertaining these studies can now be viewed on the database.


Both paintings are part of NGA Online Editions, the digital version of Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.’s Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The catalogue had its first life as a traditional hardcover book in 1995. In the years that followed, the collection of Dutch paintings expanded through important acquisitions; new research was conducted on many of the paintings; still others underwent conservation treatment.
By the time the book went out of print in 2004, Wheelock and his colleagues in the Gallery’s publishing office were already thinking about new, 21st-century ways of updating, enhancing, and presenting this ever-broadening collection to scholars and the public alike. After receiving the grant in 2009, a team of curators, editors, technical leads, web producers, conservators, photographers, and archivists further developed these ideas into a catalogue that would be fully embedded in the Gallery’s website and, at the same time, serve as a platform for an entire online series devoted to the permanent collection.
On April 24th 2014, the National Gallery of Art debuted an innovative digital initiative with the launch of Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.’s Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. This first release in NGA Online Editions is part of an ongoing effort to digitize and provide open access to the Gallery’s permanent collection catalogs and will eventually document more than 5,000 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. Users will be able to access the web-based, interactive book.


Many thanks to Melanie Gifford and Douglas Lachance (Technician, Painting Conservation NGA), who provided us the technical information and documentation.


18 August 2014

Museum De Lakenhal presents five Rembrandt paintings in The Rembrandt Database


Available as of now on The Rembrandt Database the art historical information and technical documentation of four paintings of Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden: “Bathseba with the letter of David”, “History painting”, “Bust of an old man wearing a gold chain” and “A pedlar selling spectacles”. This last painting was recently bought with support of the Vereniging Rembrandt, Mondriaan Fonds, the Vereniging van Belangstellenden in De Lakenhal and the City of Leiden. The database presents a remarkable X-ray of the painting showing a naked woman (or man) underneath the paint layer. The “History painting” was closely studied in 1975 by Karin Groen. The huge amount of color slides that where kept at the depot of The Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE), are now presented on The Rembrandt Database.


We are grateful to Marijke Tolsma (project associate Museum De Lakenhal ), who provided us the art historical information and technical documentation and to Christiaan Vogelaar (curator of Old Master Paintings Museum de Lakenhal), who assisted us in the art historical research. Also thanks to Cor Mulders (librarian at the RCE), who provided us the macro slides of the “History painting”.


July 2014

Documentation and art-historical data on Rembrandt paintings from French public collections online


In collaboration with the C2RMF, le Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, we are able to present technical documentation of 30 paintings of multiple French institutions on the Rembrandt Database.


Documentation and art-historical information from the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence, Musée Départemental des Vosges in Épinal, Église Saint-Vincent in Le Mas-d’Agenais, Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, Musée du Louvre in Paris, Musée Cognaq-Jay in Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André also in Paris, Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rennes and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours in Tours is now accessible through the database. A total of 1070 documents have been made available for researchers worldwide.


The C2RMF has been very generous in sharing their data. We hope to add more paintings to our database in the next project phase and to keep it up-to-date with new research material.


16 June 2014

Museum of Fine Arts Boston presents seven paintings in The Rembrandt Database


Since June 16th the art historical information and technical documentation of seven paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston have been online. From fall 2009 through spring 2011 MFA carried out a survey in the frame of the forthcoming catalogue on 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings in its collection, which included the Rembrandt paintings. Each painting was studied with x-radiography, ultraviolet and infrared light and under the stereomicroscope.


We are grateful to Catherine (Kate) Smith (former Assistant Paintings Conservator), Rhona MacBeth (Eijk and Rose-Marie van Otterloo Conservator of Paintings, Head of Paintings Conservation) and Kay Satomi (Manager of Conservation Administration) who provided us the technical documentation and the metadata and to John Hawley (Curatorial Research Fellow, Paintings) and Ronni Baer (William and Ann Elfers Senior Curator of European Paintings) who assisted us in the art historical research.


6 June 2014

Online as of now documentation and art historical data of five paintings from the Berlin Gemäldegalerie


Thanks to the collaboration of nearly three decades with the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, the Berlin Gemäldegalerie is the only museum in the world able to make consistent and systematic use of neutron-activation autoradiography (NAAR) in the examination of paintings. As a result of this partnership, neutron-activation autoradiographs have been produced for the entire corpus of Rembrandt paintings held at the Gemäldegalerie. Neutron-induced autoradiography is an exceptionally versatile and successful method to examine paintings in a nondestructive manner. Since 2011 these neutron activation autoradiographs has become an important subject of a long-term interdisciplinary research project, made possible by the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Neutron-activation autoradiography film exposure (Rembrandt, “Head of Christ”, c. 1648, oil on panel, 25 x 21.7, SMB Gemäldegalerie cat. no. 811 C)




The aim of this research project is to conduct for the first time in-depth analysis by comparing data of technical research (in particular neutron-activation autoradiography) with art-historical findings. The core of these examinations consists of an integrated study on provenance, exhibition history and restoration history on the one hand, and new analyses of the painting techniques on the other. By linking material-technical and art-historical facets, the findings can be embedded in their original iconographic and cultural-historical context. The project will focus on new insights relating to the genesis of the paintings, the development of subjects and motifs, as well as Rembrandt’s artistic and painterly technique. By combining technical and art-historical research within an interdisciplinary team the project will achieve innovative results that are beyond previous research.


All relevant information covered in the project has subsequently be made accessible to the public as part of The Rembrandt Database. This information includes: data from the technical analysis of the paintings, the actual scans made using scientific imaging techniques (NAAR, X-radiography, infrared reflectography and microscopic imaging techniques), the accompanying explanations of the images, their art-historical interpretation, the historical records relating to the people and institutions responsible for commissioning and collecting the works, and all other related documents that have been gathered over the years. As of now the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin presents the technical documentation and the comprehensive art historical data of five paintings from its important collection of Rembrandt paintings.


Dr. Katja Kleinert (research associate, history of art, Gemäldegalerie) and Claudia Laurenze-Landsberg (research associate, art technology and expert in neutron-activation autoradiographs, Gemäldegalerie) have made the documents available and provided us the technical and art historical data. The collaboration with the Berlin Gemäldegalerie will be continued for the presentation of more Rembrandt paintings on The Rembrandt Database.


1 May 2014

Launch of 2 paintings from the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen


Documents from the two Rembrandt paintings from the collection of the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen are now available on The Rembrandt Database. The “Bust of an old man” and “Man with plumed beret” have been studied with X-radiography, infrared light, UV, etc., and samples have been taken of these paintings in the (recent) past. 45 documents pertaining these studies can now be viewed on the website.


Thanks to Mette Bette Kokkenborg, research coordinator at CATS (Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation) at the Statens Museum for Kunst this documentation was made available.


31 March 2014

Catharijneconvent’s documents and updated art historical data now online


Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht, presents the documentation of three paintings from its collection: “The baptism of the Eunuch”, “Lot and his daughters” and “Bathsheba receives a letter from David”. In particular the Baptism is rich in documentation. The painting was closely studied in 1976 by a team of experts from Catharijneconvent and RCE (The Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency, at the time Central Research Laboratory for Objects of Art and Science). Hundreds of color slides taken in the frame of this project that were kept at the RCE depot were retrieved and digitized and are now virtually united with the documentation from the Catharijneconvent archives in The Rembrandt Database.


Museum librarian Kees van Schooten and curator of medieval art Micha Leeflang have generously provided the database with the data and have been working on the presentation in close collaboration with the RKD.


1 February 2014

A wealth of documentation and information about the Boijmans Van Beuningen Rembrandts


Visitors of The Rembrandt Database can now view hundreds of documents and new insights on five Rembrandt paintings from the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. The new data includes the controversial painting Man with a red beret, of which the attribution is still in debate; the differences in opinion are referred to extensively in the art historical data. Samples that were taken by Annetje Boersma in 2006, and other technical documentation further enriches the interesting studies on this painting. The painting Tobit and Anna has received quite some media attention recently due to its also controversial status regarding authenticity. The database reflects this discussion, but also presents the remarkable X-ray showing a still life underneath the visible paint layer. Other paintings from the Rotterdam collection in the database are: Portrait of Aletta Adriaensdochter, Titus at his desk and The concord of the state. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen was willing to take new high quality photographs of the paintings, also available on the website.


Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has been very generous in both sharing data and collaboration: almost 600 documents were made digitally available on the website. A huge amount of work for the database was carried out at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen by Justa Vuister and Roselien van Wijngaarden, supported by the expertise of Jeroen Giltaij and Friso Lammertse, and under the guidance of Jonieke van Es and Nynke van der Wal.


New documents regarding paint sample analyses from the RCE archives will soon be added to the rich set of documentation.


20 September 2013

Doerner Institut’s sample analyses on grounds and pigments of 19 paintings


Available as of now on The Rembrandt Database are images and reports on sample analyses performed by the Doerner Institut in Munich.


Conservator Jeanine Walcher examined and photographed the samples that were taken in the 60’s by Prof. Hermann Kühn and in the 80’s by Prof. Andreas Burmester. At the time, the studies were done under the umbrella of a large project on grounds (and to a lesser extent pigments) in Rembrandt paintings of which the results were published in Jahrbuch der Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Baden-Württenberg, part 2 (1965), Maltechnik Restauro no. 82 (1976) and Maltechnik Restauro no. 83 (1977).


Available are new photographs of the samples taken in UV and bright field, results of specific types of sample analyses such as XRD (Debye-Schrerrer), slides and additional sample documentation. Prof. Kühn also contributed to the online presentation of his examinations by means of giving an interview in which he elaborated on his studies in the sixties.


The material concerns 19 paintings from 3 collections: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague and Alte Pinakothek/Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich. More sample documentation of paintings from other collections will be launched in stages over the course of the project.


Information about this project on the Doerner Institut’s website: here


1 August 2013

Website improvements


Improvements were made to the site contents and functionalities:

  • A bibliography has been added for each painting
  • A list of exhibitions has been added for each painting
  • Bredius numbers have been added to the Paintings overview page
  • A “show/hide remark(s)” functionality has been added to the pages on Provenance and History of conservation & research
  • Longer texts are now presented with paragraph- and bullet list formatting

New content is to be launched soon.


10 June 2013

12 paintings from the Mauritshuis added to The Rembrandt Database


In addition to the six paintings from the collection of the Mauritshuis that since September 2012 have been presented on this website, another twelve paintings from the museum have now been added. These include paintings by Rembrandt and/or works that have been (formerly) attributed to him. Masterpieces such as The anatomy lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632) and Portrait of an elderly man (1667) are among them.


Art historical information about the paintings is presented together with an overview of their conservation history and research together with related images and texts. With this launch, the museum adds more than 900 documents to the database. The presentation of these works is nonetheless work in progress as the documentation and the (contextual) information will be further added to in the months to come. The documentation resulting from research with the stereomicroscope and paint sample analyses is still in an editing phase and will be presented on the website when that is completed. Over the course of the next few years, the painting Saul and David (ca. 1655) by Rembrandt and/or his studio, is undergoing treatment and further investigation. This painting (and related documentation) will be presented on this website after completion of the research and treatment.


The Rembrandt Database, which is now coordinated by the RKD, was initiated together with the Mauritshuis. The museum has an important and large collection of Rembrandt paintings and devotes much attention to conservation and technical research. In the framework of The Rembrandt Database, the enormous amount of conservation documentation in the museum has been made accessible for the first time. Petria Noble, head of conservation of the Mauritshuis, has worked on the project together with Rembrandt Database associates Sytske Weidema, Thamar Weidema and Willem ter Velde from the RKD. In the following phase, the museum will remain involved in an advisory capacity.


2 May 2013

Launch of 11 paintings from the Alte Pinakothek, Munich


11 paintings by Rembrandt from the Alte Pinakothek / Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen München collection have been added to The Rembrandt Database. Conservator Jeanine Walcher and director Prof. Andreas Burmester from the Doerner Institut in Munich have been working on the presentation of the documentation in close collaboration with the RKD.


The newly added 334 digitized documents on these paintings include reports, slides, glass plate negatives, X-rays, IRRs and photographs from the early 20th century up to 2012, plus art historical information. Of specific interest are the samples from the Holy Family and Abraham’s sacrifice that were taken in the 60’s and 80’s by Prof. Hermann Kühn and Prof. Andreas Burmester respectively, and that were photographed anew for The Rembrandt Database.


The RKD will continue the collaboration with the Doerner Institut for the entry of the paint samples taken mainly by Mr. Hermann Kühn during his study of the grounds of Rembrandt paintings from collections other than the Alte Pinakothek.


23 January 2013

Speed improvements


The site is responding more quickly as of today. Because of the data structure, some queries took a long time to execute. We made some XML improvements to speed things up.

Furthermore, improvements were made to the site contents:

  • Reference images (high resolution normal light images of the current state of the painting) have been added for each painting
  • Pages on provenance have been expanded
  • Documentation on sample analyses is now sorted by sample name/number
  • Static texts have been updated

New content is on its way to be launched.


19 September 2012

Public launch


As of today, The Rembrandt Database is live!


After a long period of behind-the-scenes work on cataloguing, digitizing and describing documentation, entering art-historical data and developing the database and the user interface, the website can now be seen by everyone for the first time. It is still in the beta stage, but will continue to be developed and will be expanded to include new functions.


The website currently contains 1,700 digital documents (visual and textual material) relating to 12 paintings in 3 different museums. This number will grow considerably in the coming period. Content posted in recent years that relates to other paintings in the Mauritshuis is now in the final phases of editing and checking. Moreover, new avenues of collaboration mean that the number of museums presenting paintings on this website is growing continually and will eventually rise to twenty in 2014.


Watch this page for announcements of new content and functionalities.

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