Rembrandt van Rijn lived and worked for most of his life in Amsterdam. His former house, museums with his paintings, experiences providing a glimpse into his life and locations where he created numerous of his artworks are still witnessing about Rembrandt in Amsterdam. Here is the story about one of the most beloved Dutch artists and his link to the country’s capital – Amsterdam.
Rembrandt in Amsterdam
There are few artists in the world linked so much to one city as Rembrandt is to Amsterdam. Although he was born in another Dutch town, Leiden, he spent his adult life and most of his art career in the Dutch capital. We can learn so much about his contemporaries, clients, friends and family members from his paintings. It’s fascinating to realise he walked the same streets and visited the same houses and shops as us while strolling around Amsterdam.
Rembrandt was a prominent member of Dutch society in the 17th century and one of the most famous painters in the country. However, a part of his lure comes from his tough life. Although he experienced the peak of his career in Amsterdam, it’s also where he reached his lower points. He lost his beloved wife and all except one of his children during his life. In his later years, he also went bankrupt. Still, Amsterdam shaped Rembrandt, and Rembrandt marked Amsterdam as no other artist.
Locations linked to Rembrandt in Amsterdam
The Amsterdam city centre still looks pretty much the same as it did when Rembrandt lived there. Its canal belt and many canal houses were built in the 17th century. The economy was booming, and many of its residents became quite wealthy. People decorated their houses and commissioned paintings from many artists working in the Netherlands during that time. The most popular among them was Rembrandt van Rijn.
If you’d like to explore places linked to Rembrandt in Amsterdam, you’ll find most of them in the De Wallen area. It’s the oldest part of the city. The famous painter’s house still stands there and is turned into a museum today.
Address: Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam
De Waag used to be an old city gate and a weighting house. Its unique design makes it one of the most interesting buildings in Amsterdam today. It was also a place that Rembrandt used to visit frequently because it was home to the Painters’ guild of Saint Luke, which Rembrandt was a member of.
In winter months, anatomy lessons were performed inside it. During one of them, when he was only 25 years old, Rembrandt painted one of his most famous artworks – The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicholaes Tulp.
De Waag Restaurant here.TIP: De Waag is home to a lovely restaurant today. You can see some photos from it and read about
Dutch East India Company
Address: Oude Hoogstraat 24, 1012 CE Amsterdam
The Netherlands became one of the most prosperous countries in the world during the 17th century. Dutch ships sailed worldwide, bringing home exotic goods such as Oriental rugs, unusual food and spices. The latest were some of the most expensive things at that time.
They founded the first international company – the Dutch East India Company during that time. To control the market, Dutch established the first stock exchange market in the world. Rembrandt made portraits of many people involved with it. The Dutch East India Company building is home to the University of Amsterdam today. But you can still visit its famous courtyard.
Jan Six House
Address: Kloveniersburgwal 101-103, 1011 KB Amsterdam
Rembrandt painted many portraits of people living in Amsterdam during the 17th century. Jan Six was one of them. He was a poet and a member of a wealthy merchant Six family. That family is quite unique because their members still live in Amsterdam and own Rembrandt’s paintings he made for them. The house at this address is their original home, and you can see its interior in one of Rembrandt’s portraits of Jan Six. They moved to a new house later on that could be visited by appointment.
The Drapers Guild
Address: Staalstraat 7B, 1011 JJ Amsterdam
Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild is one of the most beautiful Rembrandt’s group portraits at the Rijksmuseum. The painting was made for the drapers guild and displayed in their guild house, which can still be seen in Amsterdam. Today, it’s home to the Droog, a beautiful venue dedicated to Dutch design. It consists of a gallery space and a nice restaurant. A contemporary artist Berend Strik made his interpretation of a famous Rembrandt painting that used to hang there, which you can see at its restaurant.
TIP: Cafe Droog is a beautiful inspirational place perfect for coffee or brunch in Amsterdam, located on the first floor of the building.
Bridge to Rusland
Address: Rusland, Amsterdam
Although a successful artist, for several reasons, Rembrandt went bankrupt later in life. His house and everything inside of it were sold at an auction. A few years later, his son Titus wanted to repurchase something and decided to buy a large mirror Rembrandt was using when working on his self-portraits. He hired two men to transport the mirror to their new house. However, while crossing the bridge to Rusland, they accidentally dropped the heavy mirror, which broke into pieces. We know about this event because Titus started the court case against them.
self-guided tour Rembrandt in Amsterdam I created a few years ago. With it, you can wander around the city centre and visit places linked to Rembrandt in Amsterdam.TIP: If you’d like to explore more of these locations, check out this
Hotel for Rembrandt lovers in Amsterdam
Address: Nieuwe Doelenstraat 26, 1012 CP Amsterdam
Another location linked to Rembrandt in Amsterdam is where he painted the Night Watch. He made it for the civic guards of Amsterdam, who displayed it at their meeting hall in Amsterdam. The building (although rebuilt later) still exists and is turned into one of the most beautiful hotels in Amsterdam – Hotel Tivoli Doelen Amsterdam. I was fortunate to stay in it during my last visit to Amsterdam and loved it! You can stay in a suite dedicated to the Night Watch, with the painting’s replica placed in the exact spot where it hung initially.
Located right in the city centre, close to all the Rembrandt locations in Amsterdam, this five-star hotel is an excellent choice for anyone looking to learn more about Rembrandt in Amsterdam during their stay.
Where to see Rembrandt’s paintings in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam museums are home to numerous paintings, drawings and etchings made by this famous artist. If you’d like to see some of them during your trip to Amsterdam, here are some locations you shouldn’t miss.
Address: Jodenbreestraat 4, 1011 NK Amsterdam
Rembrandthuis Museum is THE place to visit for anyone interested in learning more about Rembrandt in Amsterdam. It’s located in a house where he lived with his family between 1639 and 1658. Inside, you can see some rooms, like a kitchen, living room, or reception room, typical for the Amsterdam houses in the 17th century. It’s fascinating to see Rembrandt’s studio, where he created many of his paintings.
Rembrandthuis is one of my favourite museums in Amsterdam because it’s so interactive. With their daily demonstrations, they are taking museum education to the next level. During them, you can learn more about how Rembrandt created his etchings and the way pigments were made during the 17th century.
The museum mainly displays Rembrandt’s drawings and etchings. However, they also regularly organise temporary exhibitions, exploring Rembrandt’s work and influence in detail. The museum was just reopened after undergoing a four-month-long restoration. So, it’s a great time to visit it now!
Address: Amstel 51, 1018 DR Amsterdam
Hermitage in Amsterdam is another fantastic museum to learn more about Rembrandt’s art in Amsterdam. Although they don’t have a permanent collection, the museum is organising temporary exhibitions often linked to the work of Rembrandt.
One of them, Rembrandt & his contemporaries, is on display right now, and you can see it until 27th August 2023. It displays 35 history paintings from the Leiden Collection, founded by the American collectors Thomas Kaplan and Daphne Recanati Kaplan. It’s fascinating to see Rembrandt’s paintings next to the artworks of his students and contemporary painters.
One of my favourite parts of the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam is its beautiful garden. You can sit and relax in it with a cup of coffee. It’s very close to where Rembrandt would come and paint at the Amstel River. So, you can also imagine him working on some of his drawings just a few steps away from you.
Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum is home to the most extensive collection of Rembrandt’s paintings in Amsterdam, making it a must-see place for all art lovers in the Dutch capital. They are displayed on the second floor of the museum, mainly inside the main hall, the Gallery of Honour.
The highlight of the collection is the Night Watch. But, equally fascinating are his Portrait of Marten Soolmans and Portrait of Oopjen Coppit, the Jewish Bride or Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild. You can see some of the earliest and latest Rembrandt self-portraits there. And many portraits of his contemporaries, which Rembrandt was so famous for.
You can learn more about the Rijksmuseum collection in this Culture Tourist video:
Rembrandt experiences in Amsterdam
You can also enjoy in Rembrandt’s art in Amsterdam at some new venues that have opened lately and are presenting his life and work through digital experiences.
Vincent meets Rembrandt
Address: Noordermarkt 44, 1015 NA Amsterdam
In the last few years, digital exhibitions have become increasingly popular, allowing visitors to enjoy the art of their favourite painters in a new way. Vincent meets Rembrandt is a digital exhibition dedicated to the art of two famous Dutch artists. It’s located at the Noorderkerk, a former church both artists attended during their lives.
Although the two painters lived more than 200 years apart, Vincent was greatly influenced by Rembrandt’s art. The story is based on Vincent van Gogh‘s letters describing his encounters with Rembrandt’s art. Combining his words, music, and visual art created from bits of their paintings makes this digital exhibition a wonderful experience.
Address: Weteringschans 2, 1017 SG Amsterdam
Another new venue in the city where you can learn more about Rembrandt in Amsterdam is a digital experience called Rembrandts Amsterdam. An around 25-minute long story will transfer you back to the 17th century, where you’ll meet Rembrandt and his family.
They will tell you the story behind his paintings, art experiments and life. It’s interesting to combine learning about Rembrandt’s art through paintings in museums and his life through these experiences. I love how they give you an overall view of him as a person and an artist.
There is no Amsterdam without Rembrandt or Rembrandt without Amsterdam. The two are so intertwined that the famous artist became one of the city’s symbols. It’s fascinating to see how Amsterdam, in some areas, hasn’t changed much since the time Rembrandt walked its streets. And how you can still feel the presence of Rembrandt in Amsterdam so well.
I explored Amsterdam in the footsteps of Rembrandt van Rijn during a press trip organised by amsterdam&partners. Many thanks to them and their partners, Rembrandthuis Museum and Hermitage Museum, KLM and Tivoli Doelen Hotel, for hosting me and showing me some hidden gems linked to Rembrandt in Amsterdam.