Rembrandt and Poland (NL Embassy in PL)

On June 29, the exhibition Świat Rembrandta (Rembrandt’s World) opened in the Royal Castle in Warsaw. Rembrandt has many links to Poland. To begin with, he produced numerous etchings and paintings of Poles or people in supposedly Polish guises. There is much debate about several of these works, however. Much has been written, for instance, about his so-called Polish Rider from 1655, which shows a horseman in what many scholars have defined as a Polish costume. The rider has been identified variously as a specific Polish nobleman, a generic Cossack, a personification of a Christian knight, a champion of religious freedom, or a literary character. Another of Rembrandt’s paintings is commonly entitled A Polish Nobleman. This portrait, dated 1637, might depict the Polish diplomat Andrzej Rey, but he has also been described as a Russian boyar. Apart from these examples, Rembrandt’s oeuvre also includes drawings and etchings of people who appear to be wearing Polish dress.

Furthermore, Rembrandt’s brother in law was Jan Makowski (or Joannes Maccovius), professor of theology at the University of Franeker. Makowski’s portrait is part of the exhibition in Warsaw.

*I originally wrote this post for the social media outlets of the Dutch Embassy in Poland. This was post no. 18.

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