Courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Rembrandt’s portrait Lucretia is one of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ most important and revered paintings. A woman whose virtue has been wrongly tarnished, Lucretia is thought to be a stand-in for the legendary Rembrandt’s much younger lover, Hendrickje, who was persecuted for her relationship with the artist. Lucretia’s mournful, luminous presence has been conspicuously absent from its spot on the third floor in recent months, but it returns to the MIA this month as part of Rembrandt in America, a major survey featuring an unprecedented number of the artist’s works, as well as many works once attributed to him.
Drawing from museum and private collections throughout the country, Rembrandt in America offers a unique opportunity to observe the evolution of the famous artist, his art, and his imitators. Though originally conceived as an examination of Rembrandt’s work in the United States, curator Tom Rassieur is organizing the MIA exhibition chronologically in hopes of illuminating questions of authenticity, the artist’s influences and aspirations, and the many ways in which Rembrandt’s art mirrored the arc of his own life.
With paintings and drawings spanning Rembrandt’s entire career, from his student days right up to the end of his life, the exhibition offers ample opportunity to follow that arc. “In this trajectory from the ambitious young artist who is breaking with tradition to the timeless observer of humanity, Rembrandt changes his style, he changes his attitude to his sitters, and he develops tremendous emotional depth,” Rassieur explains.
Rembrandt saw himself as a great artist, and his competitive streak can be seen in references to Titian, Raphael, Rubens, and other great artists before him. “[Rembrandt] often looks to the past before he takes artistic leaps forward. It’s clear the artistic sources he’s looking to,” says Rassieur. “He is extremely aware of the place he’d like to achieve in the history of art.”
Opens June 24