Rembrandtthe photographer

From 22 june to 3 november 2024


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Westfries Museum highlights Rembrandt’s photographic eye

It is the largest collection of Rembrandt etchings ever to be seen in the Netherlands. From 22 June to 3 November 2024, more than 200 masterful etchings from the collection of Rembrandt collector Jaap Mulders will fill our empty museum. Due to the delayed renovation, we are taking the opportunity to be a Rembrandt Museum for four months. In addition to Rembrandt’s masterful technique, the exhibition also highlights his almost photographic compositions. Rembrandt had an eye for the perfect picture like no other artist of his time: like a photographer avant la lettre.

Information & tickets

  • Data: 22 juni t/m 3 november 2024
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11.00 – 17.00
  • Visiting address: Roode Steen 1, Hoorn
  • Tickets € 12.50. Youth up to 16 years free admission.
  • Free for Museum Card holders, VriendenLoterij VIP card holders, Friends of the Westfries Museum, Members of the Rembrandt Association.

Tip: combined ticket

Make a day of it in Hoorn! In addition to the Rembrandt exhibition, visit our museum attraction Discover the story of Hoorn in the Statenpoort on Nieuwstraat. A spectacular multimedia show with two podwalks through the historic city centre. A combined ticket costs €15 (separately €20). 

Also Rembrandt tulips and bronze sculptures

The exhibition ‘Rembrandt, the photographer’ is supplemented by photographs and bronze sculptures, entirely in Rembrandt style. Two museum rooms feature Rembrandt-inspired flower portraits and still lifes by photographer Dennis A-Tjak. And throughout the exhibition you can admire the bronzes that sculptor Anat Ratzabi made in response to Rembrandt’s etchings.

Deepen your museum visit

A digital app is available at the exhibition in any desired language. This digital guide tells you much more about the artworks and about Rembrandt’s motivation. The app can be downloaded for free at the museum.

More about Rembrandt

There is no 17th-century painter who made as many etchings as Rembrandt van Rijn. He made about 300 of them. And he did everything himself, from sketching and etching to printing. During his lifetime, Rembrandt was much better known for his prints than for his paintings. Etchings could be printed in a larger edition, which allowed him to reach a much larger and more international audience than with his oil canvases. Maybe that’s why he made so many. They also provided a nice extra income.

International fame

Rembrandt was one of the first artists to sell the various intermediate phases (states) of his work. The larger prints fetched an average of 8 to 10 nickels, with peaks of up to 100 guilders, a fortune in those days. Rembrandt made his most famous etchings, Christ Heals the Lepers, The Three Crosses and the well-known Portrait of Jan Six, around 1648 when he was in his early forties. He printed them on extremely expensive Japanese paper.

Magisterial oeuvre

More than 200 of Rembrandt’s etchings can be admired at the exhibition. Supplemented with etchings by related artists. In this way, the exhibition not only gives a good and representative picture of Rembrandt’s masterly etching oeuvre, but also of his artistic sources of inspiration. And of the influence he had on other artists. Like Ferdinand Bol, who learned the intricacies of etching in his workshop as an apprentice.

But it is also clear from the exhibition that one Rembrandt etching is not the other. Rembrandt’s etchings were so popular during his lifetime that other artists made copies of them. And sometimes they are so good that you can hardly distinguish them from the original. And what about later prints using Rembrandt’s etching plates. Of these, 80 have been preserved. In the 19th century, they were still regularly used for printing. Examples of this can also be seen at the exhibition. 

225 original Rembrandt etchings

All artworks in the exhibition come from the collection of Jaap Mulders. Never before has his collection been shown in its full breadth. This former entrepreneur and art lover bought his first Rembrandt etching in 1997 and has since been completely captivated by Rembrandt’s ‘phenomenal works of art on the square centimeter’. His collection now includes 225 original Rembrandts: etchings made and printed by Rembrandt himself. And an extremely rare copper etching plate, of which only 80 have survived worldwide. It is a portrait of the Remonstrant preacher Jan Uytenbogaert.

Photographic compositions

What fascinates Jaap Mulders in Rembrandt’s etching is his well-observed incidence of light and his perfect sense of depicting the right, most emotional moment. “If Rembrandt had been alive today, he would undoubtedly have been a photographer,” says Mulders. “With that great eye for just that one moment and for those seemingly superfluous, but oh so important details, which make the picture perfect. Like that pooping dog in the etching of The Good Samaritan. It makes images so imaginative, so layered, just like a good photograph does.”


At the heart of the exhibition is a presentation in the museum’s temporary exhibition space, which gives an overview of Rembrandt’s life and his rich etching oeuvre. Jaap Mulders uses a number of striking examples to explain Rembrandt’s photographic eye and shows that the artist was already ‘photoshopping’.

This presentation is in fact the viewing guide for the rest of the exhibition, which is shown thematically in various rooms throughout the museum. Almost all of Rembrandt’s work underlines the title of the exhibition. His self-portraits, there are more than 20 on display, are in fact selfies. And just as Ed van der Elsken did in the 1960s, Rembrandt captured the Amsterdam of his time in his portraits of beggars and well-known Amsterdammers, and in his landscapes from the city’s surroundings.    

Unique location

‘Rembrandt, the Photographer’ is a unique exhibition at a unique location. The museum is completely empty, awaiting a major restoration, renovation, expansion and refurbishment. Now that the renovation is taking longer than planned, the museum is seizing this exceptional opportunity to offer plenty of space to the greatest artist and etcher the Netherlands has ever known.

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This exhibition is made possible by Imming Logistics Fine Art B.V.

Schilderij met zicht op stad en planten