There are few painters as widely and historically admired as Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn. Works by Rembrandt can be found in museums throughout the world, but Angelenos and visitors alike have the exceptional opportunity to see many important Rembrandts in Los Angeles.
Re-launched in May 2019, Rembrandt in Southern California is an online resource and virtual exhibition that presents all of the Rembrandt paintings in Southern California museum collections and features information about the rich holdings of Rembrandt’s drawings and prints in the region.
Rembrandt in Southern California is a project led by the J. Paul Getty Museum and created in collaboration with the Hammer Museum at UCLA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Norton Simon Museum, and the Timken Museum of Art.
"The Getty possesses the most significant collection of early works by the artist in the country." - Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum
"Southern California is home to an exceptional group of paintings by Rembrandt, the third largest in the United States, and the Getty possesses the most significant collection of early works by the artist in the country," says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. "Rembrandt in Southern California allows anyone anywhere in the world to see and study these paintings together in one place. For museum-goers in and visitors to Southern California, we hope they will use the website as a tool to enhance their visits to see all of these extraordinary paintings in person. Together, these works tell the story of the extraordinary range and unparalleled achievements of one of the world’s most celebrated artists."
"The remarkable group of Rembrandt paintings in Southern California museums represents nearly every phase of the artist’s long career," says Anne Woollett, curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. "Together they offer a marvelous opportunity to experience fascinating history scenes, intriguing portraits and the compelling emotional states of heroic figures, as well as Rembrandt’s exhilarating range of painting techniques."
The current version of Rembrandt in Southern California updates the website launched by the Getty in 2008. This rich virtual resource marks the 350th anniversary of the artist’s death in 1669 and features high-quality images and a dynamic design. In the Virtual Exhibition of Paintings, viewers can zoom into high-resolution images to explore the paintings in detail, including the newest addition to the regional collection, Rembrandt Laughing - acquired by the Getty in 2013 - and read about each work and its relationship to other paintings in the area.
In addition to the 14 paintings in the exhibition, the updated site offers new insight into the substantial holdings of Rembrandt’s drawings and prints in Southern California, including The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens and the USC Fisher Museum of Art.
In contrast to paintings, works on paper are not generally on view due to light sensitivity, but many of Rembrandt’s works on paper are digitized and available online. For the first time, information about the remarkable array of Rembrandt’s drawings and etchings in the region is available in a single location. Rembrandt in Southern California also includes links to related videos, podcasts, and other resources focused on Rembrandt and related to the collections of the participating museums.
While Rembrandt in Southern California serves as a virtual exhibition to be visited online, it also facilitates seeing the Rembrandt paintings of Southern California in person. An interactive map helps museum-goers find participating museums. Each photo of an artwork in the exhibition will include notes on the painting's location that will be updated as the piece travels or goes off view for study or conservation.
In July 2019, Rembrandt’s Portrait of Marten Looten - once owned by J. Paul Getty and gifted to LACMA in 1953 - went on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum for the first time, as one of seven masterworks to be displayed with the Getty’s permanent collection during the LACMA building project.
Read on and discover more masterpieces from Rembrandt in Southern California.
"An Old Man in Military Costume" - Getty Center
Rembrandt painted many tronies (character studies from life) of aged men and women during his early career in Leiden before 1631. The striking effect of this unknown subject derives from the intensity of his gaze and fanciful costume, which includes a polished metal gorget and a tall ostrich plume.
"The Abduction of Europa" - Getty Center
With this dramatic interpretation of Jupiter’s seduction of Europa, princess of Tyre, Rembrandt confidently asserted his status as a worthy member of an elite circle of history painters.
"Daniel and Cyrus before the Idol Bel" - Getty Center
Despite the small size of this wood panel, Rembrandt captured the startling emotional climax of the key dramatic confrontation from the biblical Book of Daniel.
"Saint Bartholomew" - Getty Center
Rembrandt sculpted Bartholomew’s pensive face with thick, heavy strokes while the torso is more thinly executed. His drab left hand hints at advanced age or even death, contrasting with the roughly indicated right hand, which holds a knife—the instrument of the saint’s death by flaying.
"The Raising of Lazarus" - LACMA
Rembrandt’s dramatic portrayal of what is considered one of Christ’s most extraordinary miracles—the raising of Lazarus from the dead—hinges on the connection across space between the commanding figure of Christ and the limp body of Lazarus.
"Portrait of Dirck Jansz. Pesser" - LACMA
Working quickly and decisively, Rembrandt deftly captured the sitter’s resolute character in this early portrait of Dirck Jansz. Pesser, a prominent member of the conservative Protestant Remonstrant community in Rotterdam.
"Portrait of a Man Holding a Black Hat" - Hammer Museum
This elegant likeness is in many ways unusual among the artist’s portraits. Unlike his depictions of conservative Amsterdam merchants from the earlier 1630s such as Portrait of Dirck Jansz. Pesser, here Rembrandt lavished attention on the rich taffeta costume, with its sharp brocade trim and complex sheen.
"Juno" - Hammer Museum
Juno is the most commanding of a group of large-scale female subjects Rembrandt undertook in his last years. The wife of Jupiter, king of the gods, Juno was particularly associated with marriage and wealth.
"Portrait of a Bearded Man in a Wide-Brimmed Hat" - Norton Simon
The strong sculptural effect and tight brushwork evident in this likeness are characteristic of Rembrandt’s early Amsterdam portraits, including Dirck Jansz. Pesser.
"Self-Portrait" - Norton Simon
Rembrandt drew inspiration from his own features and drew, etched, and painted several dozen self-portraits, many of which entered contemporary collections.
"Portrait of a Boy" - Norton Simon
The directness and sensitivity of Rembrandt’s portrayal of this engaging young boy in semi-historical dress led to its previous identification as the artist’s son, Titus. Although that identification is now rejected, the identity of the sitter and function of the painting, either as a fragment of a larger group portrait or an independent likeness, remains undetermined.