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14 Preview of the Books & Autographs auction on 29 September 2021 Rembrandt: a genius on the brink Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was the shining light of European Baroque painting in the ‘Golden Age’ and is practically considered the patron saint of the Netherlands today, but when he died on 4 October 1669, aged 63, he was utterly impoverished, deprived of the splendour of his finest years. The rise of Rembrandt – painter, draughtsman and engraver – was inextricably linked with his move to Amsterdam around 1631/32 and thus to the centre of Dutch art of that era. Hismarriage in 1634 to Saskia van Uylenburgh, who came from a wealthy patrician family, enabled him to run his own master workshop. But Saskia’s family soon took issue with what they saw as the artist’s lavish spending. Not only did he live in grand style, but also amassed a veritable ‘cabinet of curiosities’ with hundreds of exotic natural rarities and works of art. Saskia died in 1642 at the age of 29, and in May 1656 Rembrandt signed his residence over to his son Titus. Shortly afterwards, his insolvency became official and a two-year forced sale of his assets, especially his art collection, ensued – at a time when the overheated art market was experiencing a severe downturn. The broadsheet offered in our September auction, which announces the auction of Rembrandt’s possessions, is a central and extremely rare document concerning the bankruptcy of the famous artist. Only one other copy of this historic notice is known; it is in the collection of the British Museum in London (shelfmark: 1857,0613.990). The broadsheet announces ‘outstanding art on paper’ as well as the remaining part of his collection ‘of the foremost Italian, French, Dutch and German masters’, and notes that the artist had gathered FOR FURTHER INFORMATION BOOKS & AUTOGRAPHS Dr Andreas Terwey terwey@kollerauctions.com ONLINE CATALOGUES www.kollerauctions.com 1 Déscription du Sacre et du Couronnement de leurs Majestés Impériales l’Empereur Alexandre II et l’Impératrice Marie Alexandrovna. St Petersburg, 1856. Estimate: CHF 40 000/60 000 2 Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669). Broadsheet of the ‘Curateur over den Insolventen Boedel van Rembrant van Rijn’ with the announcement of the forced auction of works of art from Rembrandt’s collection. With a large woodcut initial letter. [Amsterdam, 1658]. Estimate: CHF 70 000/90 000 2 1 these together ‘with a great deal of curiosity’. In addition, ‘a good portion’ of the drawings and sketches were by Rembrandt himself. The time of the auction, which was to take place at Barent Janzs Schuurman’s, the landlord of the Kaiserkrone inn on Amsterdam’s Kalverstraat, is not precisely known: ‘The sale will take place on the date, at the hour and in the year stated above’. What this ‘above’ refers to is unclear. As early as December 1655, Rembrandt had rented a room in the Kaiserkrone inn and offered some of his possessions for sale there, to which the present sheet apparently also refers (‘where the previous sale was held’). ‘The profit made was a bitter disappointment, the first of many to follow in the difficult years ahead. Ruin showed its grimace to him.’ (Simon Schama, Rembrandts Augen, Berlin 1999, p. 597).