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Rembrandt’s Holland

Rembrandt van Rijn and the Netherlands grew up together. The artist, born in Leiden in 1606, lived during the tumultuous period of the Dutch Revolt and the establishment of the independent Dutch Republic. He later moved to Amsterdam, a cosmopolitan center of world trade, and became the city’s most fashionable portraitist. His attempts to establish himself with the powerful court at The Hague failed, however, and the final decade of his life was marked by personal tragedy and financial hardship.

Rembrandt’s Holland considers the life and work of this celebrated painter anew, as it charts his career alongside the visual culture of urban Amsterdam and the new Dutch Republic. In the book, Larry Silver brings to light Rembrandt’s problematic relationship with the ruling court at The Hague and reexamines how his art developed from large-scale, detailed religious imagery to more personal drawings and etchings, moving self-portraits, and heartfelt close-ups of saintly figures. Ultimately, this readable biography shows how both Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age ripened together.

Featuring up-to-date scholarship and in-depth analysis of Rembrandt’s major works, and illustrated beautifully throughout, it is essential reading for art students and anyone who enjoys the work of the Dutch Masters.

224 pages | 65 color plates, 5 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2017

Renaissance Lives

Art: European Art

History: European History

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"In four delightfully well-written and informative chapters, Silver animates and gives depth to Rembrandt, his patrons, his religious milieu, and his daily and intellectual life. The many facets of the artist’s activity emerge, as the author describes how the painter gained portrait commissions from wealthy and fashionable Amsterdammers, painted complex histories, and experimented with a range of identities in his self-portraits. Rembrandt’s Night Watch demonstrates his ambition to avoid a static group portrait or a rowdy banquet scene (as favored by his contemporaries), but at the same time it is a chaotic gathering with several levels of action, and despite its astonishing credibility, may not represent an actual event. Rembrandt was affiliated with the Dutch Reformed Church, yet his art reveals a close reading of Scripture rather than a clear adherence to one or another confession. In this regard, he appealed to a wide audience including Catholics, Remonstrants, Protestants, and even Calvinists. This is a solid contribution to the Renaissance Lives series, which offers books by accomplished scholars on major figures in the early modern world. Highly recommended."


“An accessible, concise, up-to-date, and well-written introductory study that firmly situates Rembrandt’s life and work within Dutch history and society. . . . Silver weaves together a biographical sketch, sensitive analyses of artworks, and a comprehensive overview of Dutch politics, society, religion, and artistic culture. . . . He covers extraordinary ground in a brief book, laying out for the general reader the trajectory of Rembrandt’s art and career.”

Historians of Netherlandish Art Book Review

"Silver balances discussion of the social context of Rembrandt’s life and art admirably throughout these chapters, and the thematic approach allows him to consider works of art from different aspects, adding to the depth of presentation. The highlights remain those passages where he describes specific paintings and prints (and a few drawings). Here Silver’s lucid prose and engaged eye help bring these works to vivid life, especially important in the many cases where works are discussed but not illustrated. Rembrandt’s Holland is a welcome and refreshing addition to the vast scholarly literature on the artist, offering an accessible, well-rounded picture of Rembrandt, his art, and his society."

Renaissance Quarterly

"Rembrandt's fascination with the exotic and his mania as a collector are well known. . . . He lived in a land that was in the front ranks regarding cartography and science as well as religious toleration, and Silver catches all these exciting currents and shows how the art under discussion reflects the complications, the comedies and tragedies of a well-studied but elusive life. Silver offers an easy introduction to the leading man and to the world in which he lived."

Sixteenth Century Journal

“A savvy, succinct overview. Silver relates larger issues in politics and religion to specific works by Rembrandt. He is not afraid to go out on a limb, making his text all the more interesting. His sensitive descriptions of art works add depth to his account.”

Gary Schwartz, author of Meet Rembrandt: Life and Work of the Master Painter

Table of Contents

Introduction: Stirrings in a New Dutch Nation
1 Representing Amsterdam’s Citizens
2 Amsterdam’s Religious Stew
3 Rembrandt and the Orange Court
4 Rembrandt’s World
Photo Acknowledgements

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