From 6 May to 3 September 2017 the Rembrandt House Museum presents Rembrandt and Jan Six: The Etching and the Friendship.
The friendship between Jan Six and Rembrandt van Rijn is the subject of one of the most famous stories from the seventeenth century. This bond is expressed in an intimate portrait of Jan reading by a window, which soon proved a highlight in Rembrandt’s graphic oeuvre. The exhibition examines a friendship at the height of the seventeenth century and the sublime skill manifest in the etching. The exhibition also sheds light on the fascination surrounding the etching, the client and the artist in the centuries that followed. Jan Six and his friendship with Rembrandt in Amsterdam has come alive more than ever since the publication of the book ‘De levens van Jan Six’ (The Lives of Jan Six) written by Geert Mak, which captured the imagination of half of the reading public of the Netherlands. The Rembrandt House is joining in with a small exhibition.
The Rembrandt House Museum is Rembrandt’s former home and workplace, where the etching of Jan Six was made. It gives visitors a unique and relevant context for the exhibition, with loans from the Six Collection. There could be no better setting.
Rembrandt made illustrations for Jan Six’s friends’ book and his stage play, but the etched portrait is the finest example of their association. A relaxed Jan leans on the window-ledge and reads a magazine. Could it perhaps be Jan’s own house while Rembrandt was paying a visit? In any event, the 1647 etching displays the consummate skill of a successful artist, who perfectly captured the atmosphere and character of the moment. At the same time it evokes a seventeenth-century world that suddenly seems very close. This etching derives its extraordinary character from the various preliminary studies, states and etching plate, and from the many curious imitations in the Netherlands and abroad.
Jan Six died in 1700 and left a legacy that reflected both his artistic and his administrative qualities: as a writer and as a burgomaster. From that moment on, artists and collectors have been fascinated by the image of the nonchalant young man in an interior, and artists felt a compulsion to romanticize the two in paintings. The friendship continues to inspire imagination—always thanks to Rembrandt’s universal and timeless etching. The exhibition presents works from the Six Collection and loans from the Rijksmuseum and the Amsterdam Museum.
The exhibition was compiled by guest curator Menno Jonker. A publication with contributions by Nikki den Dekker, Erik Hinterding, Menno Jonker, Rudie van Leeuwen, Volker Manuth, Lilian Ruhe, Jan Six and Marieke de Winkel is being produced to coincide with Rembrandt and Jan Six: The Etching and the Friendship.