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Rembrandt in the Rijksmuseum

DUNCAN BULL, Curator, Rijksmuseum

Conversation and Q&A with Dr. Roslyn Hammers, Dept. of Fine Arts, University of Hong Kong 

© John Lewis Marshall

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The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is not only the Netherlands’ national museum of history, art and civilisation, but in a very real sense the museum of Rembrandt van Rijn. Rembrandt’s magnificent group portrait of members of a civic guard, known as The Night Watch, is not only the focal point of the museum, which was literally designed around it, but has also become the dominant icon of Dutch culture. As the most brilliant, the most thoughtful, the most penetratingly empathetic and most intensely emotional of the painters of the Golden Age, Rembrandt mastered every genre of the art in his own inimitable way. In addition to the Night Watch, the Rijksmuseum shows the full range of his achievements in a series of masterpieces: self-portraits, landscapes, biblical scenes, and still-lifes. By exploring and illuminating these, this lecture will give a glimplse not only of his exceptional artistic career but also of the inner life of this most remarkable man in this, the 350th anniversary of his death.

Duncan Bull studied art history at Cambridge University and the University of St Andrews; he has held the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in the History of Art at Yale University and the Craig Hugh Smyth Visiting Fellowship at the Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies in Florence. After working as curator of prints and drawings at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, he was appointed Deputy Editor of The Burlington Magazine, the leading scholarly journal for art-historical studies. In 2000 he moved to Amsterdam to join the Rijksmuseum as curator of paintings, and in 2006 he curated Rembrandt-Caravaggio, the major exhibition celebrating the quatercentenary of Rembrandt’s birth which attracted more than 450 thousand visitors. He has published extensively on sixteenth-, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European painting in scholarly journals and catalogues and is currently engaged in cataloguing the Rijksmuseum’s collection of Italian Old-Master paintings.

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