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Rembrandt and His Time: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection

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As part of its mission to stimulate a wider appreciation and understanding of seventeenth-century Dutch art, The Leiden Collection’s first international traveling exhibition will bring a group of some seventy works to the National Museum of China, Beijing from June 17, 2017 through September 3, 2017.


The Leiden Collection exhibition makes history by presenting the largest assemblage of Dutch Golden Age paintings ever to visit China. It will include eleven paintings by Rembrandt—the greatest number of works by the master in private hands—as well as Vermeer’s Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, the first painting by the celebrated artist to travel to Beijing.


The Leiden Collection and The National Museum of China – with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – will partner to present masterpieces from the celebrated Leiden Collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, featuring works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Lievens, and the most renowned Rembrandt School artists including Carel Fabritius, Govaert Flinck and Ferdinand Bol. The exhibition will further highlight the fijnschilders (fine manner painters), including Rembrandt’s first pupil Gerrit Dou, as well as his equally accomplished students Frans van Mieris and Godefridus Schalcken, among other great masters.


The Leiden Collection, founded in 2003 by the American collectors Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan and Daphne Recanati Kaplan, comprises some 250 works of art and represents one of the largest and most important assemblages of seventeenth-century Dutch paintings in private hands. Since its inception, The Leiden Collection has extended over 170 loans of artworks to major museums in Europe, the United States, and Japan, emerging as the only “lending library” in the Old Masters, albeit almost always lending these works anonymously. As a result of this discretion, The Leiden Collection until very recently was among the least-known major collections in the art world. No overview of The Leiden Collection as an ensemble was presented to the public until early 2017, when the debut exhibition was organized by the Musée du Louvre in Paris.


The works of art to be shown at the National Museum of China galleries comprise more than seventy pieces. Organized for the National Museum of China by Leiden Collection Curator Lara Yeager-Crasselt, the selection encompasses portraits, history paintings and genre scenes, and brings the historic nature of Holland's Golden Age of creativity to life.


The Collection’s eleven works by Rembrandt himself—the largest concentration of his paintings outside of a national museum—range from his iconic masterpieces Minerva in Her Study (part of a series represented at the Prado, Metropolitan and Hermitage museums) and the much-storied Young Girl with a Gold-Trimmed Cloak to the sensational, recent discovery of Unconscious Patient (Allegory of Smell), the earliest of the master's signed works. The exhibition further features an extraordinary work by Vermeer, Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, painted on the same bolt of canvas as The Lacemaker (in the collection of the Musée du Louvre), and the only one of the master’s paintings from his mature style remaining outside of a museum; four of the finest paintings by Rembrandt’s studio-mate in Leiden and friendly rival, Jan Lievens; Hagar and the Angel, one of only thirteen paintings by the creator of The Goldfinch and Rembrandt pupil, Carel Fabritius, that remains in private hands; nine significant paintings by Rembrandt’s first and most influential pupil, Gerrit Dou; six of the most significant paintings by one of the most brilliant artists of his generation, Jan Steen; and additional masterpieces that include a jewel-like portrait on copper by the great portraitist, Frans Hals.


The public unveiling of the Collection arose from the Kaplan’s decision to make a unique contribution to the wider art world, through the promotion of the beauty and universal values that are inherent to Dutch Golden Age art. In January 2017, the Leiden Collection published an online catalogue, developed under the supervision of Arthur K. Wheelock


Jr., Curator of Northern Baroque Paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The catalogue is intended to rank among the most comprehensive and accessible reference works of its kind. In addition to making images and information about all works in the Collection available to an online audience, the catalogue includes scholarly essays about aspects of the Collection, the art of the Dutch Golden Age and individual works. Featured authors of the essays include, among others, Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.; Walter Liedtke, the late Curator of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Marjorie Wieseman, Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos Jr. Curator of European


Painting and Sculpture, 1500-1800 at the Cleveland Museum of Art; Adriaan Waiboer, Curator, National Gallery, Dublin; Quentin Buvelot, Senior Curator, and Ariane van Suchtelen, Curator, The Mauritshuis; Wouter Kloek, Emeritus Head Curator, Rijksmuseum; Peter Schatborn, Emeritus Head of Prints, Rijksmuseum; the Art Historian, Dominique Surh; David De Witt, Chief Curator of the Rembrandthuis; Ronni Baer, William and Ann Elfers Senior Curator of European Paintings, Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston; and Lara Yeager-Crasselt, Curator of The Leiden Collection.


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