2019 is the year of Rembrandt van Rijn (Leiden 1606-1669 Amsterdam): it has been exactly 350 years since this world-famous Dutch painter passed away. Over the course of his life he created an estimated 350 paintings, 374 etchings and 1500 - 2000 drawings. The authenticity of Rembrandt's work is still a common discussion point within the art world. Nowadays, only 78 drawings can be attributed to Rembrandt with high certainty, thanks to their signature or contemporary sources. This core group now functions as a key in indentifying his other drawings.
Drawing with Rembrandt
If you wanted to be an artist back in the Golden Age, you would have to study under a professional artist. Rembrandt accepted pupils quite early on. He taught them to work in his own style. As their first lesson, his students would have to copy etchings, drawings and paintings by his hand. Drawings were mainly used as studies in his studio, which is why they are rarely signed. That makes it hard to distinguish Rembrandt's drawings from those of his students.
Real or not
None of the drawings in the collection of the Groninger Museum are part of the core group. Not all of them are attributed to Rembrandt (anymore) either. The drawings were compared to the 'core drawings' in terms of technique, style and subject matter. Sometimes it helps to analyse the used materials, such as the paper, although most of the time ownership is determined by taking a close look at the work. If you study the drawing materials, work methods, and stylistic markers, you will find subtle differences or uncomfortable aspects in the drawings – In the exhibition you can spot them too.