10 September 2020, The Tablet

Genesis of genius: the young Rembrandt


 Genesis of genius: the young Rembrandt

The Spectacles Seller is a crude early work by Rembrandt, painted when he was 18
Museum de Lakenhal


Last year marked the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death with a salvo of exhibitions saluting the artist’s genius, but the last in the series – which came to Oxford before lockdown from his hometown of Leiden – takes a less reverential approach. Covering the years 1624 to 1634, “Young Rembrandt” at the Ashmolean Museum (now extended to 1 November) reveals an artist who was no prodigy. So far, in fact, was he from that god-given status that when his 18-year-old work, The Spectacles Seller (c.1624), appeared on the market in the 1970s, no museum wanted it. In 2012 Leiden’s Museum De Lakenhal raised the money to buy it, and the idea of this exhibition was born.

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