A Tour of Rembrandt's Studio

Recently I visited Rembrandt's house in Amsterdam.

He purchased this house in 1639.

The purchase price was thirteen thousand guilders, a huge sum, which he could not come up with in its entirety. He was, however, allowed to pay it off in installments.

Although he was earning a lot of money, Rembrandt was unable—or unwilling—to pay off the mortgage and was eventually forced into bankruptcy.

This is Rembrandt's Etching Studio. The museum owns an almost complete collection of his etchings.

In particular I loved being in his painting studio.

It was recreated from an inventory of the contents of his house.

Drawings by the artist reveal the character of his rooms.

Displayed above is a "dark rust red" ground? gesso? imprimatura? on the canvas.

Nobody I found there could technically tell me what this was and it remains a mystery to me.

Rembrandt kept drawings in large portfolios.

He managed the light with a piece of draped cloth (as shown in one of his drawings).

There were lots of small containers - some of which were discovered in a dig on the site of an ancient cesspool.

Scales were used to measure pigments for paints.

Paints were ground (pictured on the left side above) - by his assistants.

These are some of the raw ground pigments waiting for oil to be added.

Before grinding, the pigments were in great big lumps.

This is another stone for grinding pigments prior to making paint.

At first glance these looked like regular stretchers - but they aren't.

Paintings were made, allowed to dry and were detached easily.

Rolling a painting and packing it in a box was the safest way to transport a painting in those days.

In 1656 Rembrandt’s property was inventoried for the benefit of his creditors, and his household effects and collection of art and curiosities were sold.

It is from this inventory that we know the contents of his house.

This shows a detail of his Mahal stick.

This shows his brushes. I figure that the historian wasn't a painter.

Showing tiny (dirty) brushes in front of a big painting in the beginning stages strikes me as not being "realistic."

More small brushes.

And this one really makes me think that a non-painter set up this display...the palette is upside down (and awfully small for such a big painting).

This was his Studio Fireplace.

And his model stand.

Suits of armor were studio props to be used in paintings.

Experts have undertaken lengthy and detailed studies to ensure that the restoration is historically accurate.

This cabinet held his coin and medal collections.

He had a collection of seashells


A rock collection.


Curiosities from all over the world.

He kept a prized collection of drawings and etchings by other artists in great books.

Precious books and seashells.

His etching collection.

Butterflies and bits of statues.

Exotic stuffed animals. There's even an alligator.

Rembrandt was also an art dealer and sold the works of other painters which he displayed downstairs.

Rembrandt often started to draw with his etching needle without having first fully planned the shape, size or position of the image on the plate.

He began this head (above) in the middle of a relatively large plate and subsequently (and inexplicably) cropped it just below her chin.

In climbing the stairs, I looked out his window and probably saw the same scenes he did.

Anybody want to see more of Rembrandt's house? I've got lots of pix....


Mary Bullock said...

Yes, yes - more pics of Rembrandt's house and your observations. Love it! Also I really loved the newpapers bloopers (I'm still laughting) - you should send them to Jay Leno.

jetsonjoe said...

Thanks a million for the Rembrandt images...it is always interesting to imagine being where he once stood.....And would love to see more images.

Would also like to say..glad you are feeling better...as I truly missed your most helpful wonderful postings on your blog...love your insights and thoughts and painting progress....

I love the sharing..
Ottawa, ON, Canada

Etcher said...

These are really great photographs. Thanks for posting these.

Mary Bullock said...

Yes, please!

Peggi Habets said...

Great photos of the studio. What that must hae felt like to be there in person. Did it smell like a studio was it missing all the great painting smells?

We are planning a trip to Amsterdam next year. Any other great spots to visit besides the Ann Frank museum?

My Painting Studio said...

I knew I was on sacred ground but alas, it did not smell like a working studio.

Be sure to see the Rijkes Museum in Amsterdam - but buy your tickets ahead of time so you don't have to wait hours in line (like I did).

Susan said...

This is so interesting, Karin. Your photographs tell a story in addition to your posts. Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. How exciting that you were in Rembrandt's studio!

Over at "RaisinToast"

satan lover666 said...

the ground is a mix of yellow ochre and english red. he used it as a base in all his paintings

My Painting Studio said...


Sometimes "English Red" is called "Mars Red."