The National Gallery has announced what promises to be one of London’s biggest artistic attractions for 2014 – a major exhibition on Rembrandt van Rijn, the Dutch painter most famous for his colossal militia portrait The Night Watch.
Made possible by exclusive loans from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and other world-renowned institutions, the new show comprises almost 100 works drawn from the last two decades of Rembrandt’s life.
From the 1650s until his death in 1669, the artist “consciously searched for a new style” that was more expressive and meaningful than what he’d been producing previously, according to curators.
Visitors will learn that Rembrandt was a tireless innovator even in the autumn of his years as they trace his continued artistic evolution across all media. They’ll be able to feast their eyes upon some 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints – all showcasing the exquisite chiaroscuro and psychological insight for which the Dutch master is best known.
Though later in life he would increasingly diverge from the formal and iconographic conventions of 17th century painting, experimenting with heavier applications of paint and previously unheard of printing techniques, these works are rarely obscure or difficult. In fact, they’re some of his most passionate and moving pieces – and their impact on the art world is still keenly felt.
“In many ways it is the art of these late years that indelibly defines our image of Rembrandt the man and the artist,” the gallery reckons.
Rembrandt: The Final Years will open on October 15th 2014.
In the meantime, the National Gallery is catering to fans of Dutch Golden Age painting with a smaller but no less important exhibition – Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure. Celebrating one of Rembrandt’s most luminous contemporaries, the show includes three of the estimated 34 paintings attributed to Johannes Vermeer. It runs until September 8th.
The National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square, close to plenty of luxury London hotels and one of the capital’s biggest tourist hotspots.