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Rembrandt, the bone collector.

Published on 29 March 2019 at 10:03

Rijksmuseum is having an exhibit of artwork that is inspired by Rembrandt. Of course I had to send in The Dogwatch...

Here are some stories about Rembrandts love for animals and pets:

- He reportedly painted his pet monkey in a family portrait.
Arnold Houbraken (1660 - 1719) was a dutch painter like Rembrandt, who wrote biographies about artists. According to Houbraken, Rembrandt was half way through painting a portait of a family when his pet monkey, Puck, died. For some reason the artist decided to paint the dead animal into the portrait, alongside his depiction of the family. The family didn't like it, but Rembrandt wouldn't remove it and so he lost the commission. The painting has never been discovered, but modern Rembrandt scholars think it sounds like something he would do....
- True-to-life drawing of a lion.
For a long time true-to-life drawings were the principal means through which people learned about the animal kingdom. As a status symbol every dutch stadholder kept a zoo, so Rembrandt had some favourit exotic subjects he could draw. 
Here is one of the lions from his hand:
-Rembrandt the bone-collector
Rembrandt was a passionate collector of art and natural history objects...he had a house full of rarities of man made works and natural objects like plants and animals: bones, teeth..and stuffed animals.
-Rembrandt and Hansken
Hansken the elephant was an incredible creature. Not only could she sword fight, wave a flag, and put a hat on her head, the 17th century animal performer was also drawn by none other than Rembrandt in 1637. And now she has been declared the first animal to be used to define her Asian elephant species — Elephas maximus.
This also means that Rembrandt’s portrait, held by the British Museum, is not just a fine likeness in black chalk and charcoal, but is capturing the Asian elephant that was used to first describe the species. How this came about is a curious journey, one explained in detail in an article published this week in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. For it was Swedish naturalist Carl Linneaus who made an error of identities back when he made what was the first description of Elephas maximus, using a Latin text on a skeleton by British naturalist John Ray and a jarred elephant fetus collected by Dutch zoologist Albertus Seba. But it would turn out the elephant fetus wasn’t an Asian elephant at all, but an African one (perhaps its little ears, which are differently shaped for each species, were smushed against the glass), which sent scientists on a curious journey that eventually brought them to Hansken.
-Rembrandt and dogs
Rembrandt painted a lot of dogs in his art. According to Rob Mulmann a dog can be found in his artworks no less than 134 times!
Visit Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam if you want to see the work of Rembrandt! Meanwhile keep your fingers crossed..maybe you can see The Dogwatch there this july too.


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