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Title: Rembrandt's Amsterdam
Author: Lugt, Frits
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Rembrandt’s Amsterdam

Reprinted, by permission of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from “The
Print-Collector’s Quarterly”


Frits Lugt



Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
1915



CONTENTS


Map Key
REMBRANDT’S AMSTERDAM
Footnotes



ILLUSTRATIONS


PLAN OF THE CITY OF AMSTERDAM ABOUT 1650
Plate 1. View of Amsterdam from the East. _(reversed)_. After the etching
by Rembrandt
Plate 2. The Old Town Hall in Amsterdam. After an engraving by Cl. Jz.
Visscher.
Plate 3. The Ruins of the Old Town Hall in Amsterdam, after the Fire in
1652. After the drawing by Rembrandt, formerly in the Heseltine
Collection, now in the Rembrandt House in Amsterdam.
Plate 4. The New Town-Hall in Amsterdam, about 1660.  The square building
on the right is the public Weighing-House, where Rembrandt sketched the
ruins of the old town-hall (see preceding illustration).  After an etching
by J. van der Ulft, 1656.
Plate 5. The Bridge Called “Grimnessesluis” in Amsterdam.  After the
drawing by Rembrandt in the Louvre, Paris.  Reproduced, by permission,
from a copyright photograph by Messrs. Braun and Co., Dornach.
Plate 6. View of the Ramparts of Amsterdam, with the St. Anthony-Gate in
the Distance.  After the drawing by Rembrandt, formerly in the Heseltine
Collection.
Plate 7. Mills on the West Side of Amsterdam, Looking Toward the Town.
After the drawing by Rembrandt, formerly in the Heseltine Collection, now
in a private collection in Kopenhagen.
Plate 8. View of the Same Side of Town as in Plate 7, but Looking Outward.
The tower on the left is the same as sketched by Rembrandt (_plate 13_).
After an etching by R. Zeeman, about 1650.
Plate 9. The Tower Called “Montelraanstoren” In Amsterdam After the
drawing by Rembrandt, formerly in the Heseltine Collection, now in the
Rembrandt House, Amsterdam
Plate 10.  The Same Tower as in the Preceding Illustration, with its
Steeple and Surroundings. After an etching by R. Zeeman, about 1650.
Plate 11. The Canal called “Singel” in Amsterdam. On the left-hand side
Rembrandt’s son, Titus, lived during his short married life.  In the
distance, the “Janroopoortstoren”.  After an etching by R. Zeeman, about
1650.
Plate 12. The Tower called “Swyght-Utrecht”, and the “Doelen” in Amsterdam
(see _plate 20_). After the drawing by Rembrandt in the collection of Dr.
C. Hofsteded de Groot, The Hague.
Plate 13. The Tower Called “Westertoren” In Amsterdam. After the drawing
by Rembrandt, in the Fodor Museum, Amsterdam
Plate 14. The Canal called “Prinsengracht” in Amsterdam. The tower seen on
the left is the same as seen in the preceding illustration.  After an
etching by R. Zeeman, about 1650.
Plate 15. The St. Anthony-Market in Amsterdam, with the Old Gate
Transformed into a Weighing-House.  After an etching by R. Zeeman, about
1650.
Plate 16. Rembrandt’s House In The “St. Anthonie-breestraat” In Amsterdam
On the left: As it must have looked when Rembrandt occupied it. On the
right: Present state.
Plate 17.  The Bridge and Sluice called “St. Anthonie-sluis” in Amsterdam,
seen from the North. Rembrandt’s home (_plate 16_) stood in the immediate
vicinity of this spot.  After the drawing by A. Waterloo, in the Fodor
Museum, Amsterdam.
Plate 18. The “doelenstraat” In Amsterdam (old situation) The receding
building, behind the low wall with gate, on the right, is the “Doelen” for
which Rembrandt painted “The Night Watch.” The house where the master
lived in 1636 was next to the house seen on the extreme right. The tower
seen above the roof is the one sketched by Rembrandt (_plate 12_). Compare
also _plate 20_ After the drawing by R. Vinkeles in the Archives in
Amsterdam
Plate 19. The Back of the Houses in the “Doelenstraat” in Amsterdam. The
narrow house in the middle, two windows wide, is, although rebuilt, the
one where Rembrandt lived in 1636.  To the left, part of Messrs. Frederk
Muller & Co.’s aution and exhibition rooms.
Plate 20. The Tower “Swyght-Utrecht” and the Backs of the Houses of the
“Doelenstraat” in Amsterdam. The third house from the tower must be the
one occupied by Rembrandt in 1636.  After an engraving by van Meurs of
about 1660.
Plate 21. The Old Exchange in Amsterdam. After an engraving by Cl. Jz.
Visscher.
Plate 22. The Inn Called “de Keizers Kroon” In The Kalverstraat,
Amsterdam. Here Rembrandt’s collections were sold by auction, after his
bankruptcy, in 1657 and 1058. After an anonymous drawing in the Archives
in Amsterdam.
Plate 23. The House Of Mr. F. Banning Cocq (the Captain And Prominent
Person In Rembrandt’s “Night-watch”) In Amsterdam After an anonymous
drawing in the family archives of Jhr. D. de Graeff at The Hague
Plate 24. The Star of the Kings. Children before a street door on
Epiphany-evening.  After the drawing by Rembrandt, in the British Museum,
London.  Salting Bequest.
Plate 25. Children Refore A Street Door: The One In The Middle With A
“Rommelpot”. After the drawing by Rembrandt, in the British Museum, London
Plate 26. A Quacksalver on a Market-Place.  After the drawing by
Rembrandt.  In the collection of Frederich August II, in Dresden.
Plate 27. Portrait Of Jan Lutma.  From an impression, in the First State,
of Rembrandt’s etching, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.



                [Plan of the City of Amsterdam about 1650]

                 PLAN OF THE CITY OF AMSTERDAM ABOUT 1650



MAP KEY


                                 [image]

  Line indicating the extension of the town, started during the last ten
                        years of Rembrandt’s life.


      1. House of the painter Pieter Lastman, the master of Rembrandt, in
      the “St. Anthonie-breestraat.”  In the same street was the house of
      the dealer Hendrick Uylenburgh, with whom Rembrandt stayed during
      the first years after his settlement in Amsterdam.
      2. House in the “Doelenstraat” where Rembrandt lived in 1636 (see
      plates _18_, _19_, _20_).
      3. Part of the Amstel where Rembrandt seems to have lived towarda
      1639.
      4. House in the “St. Anthonie-breestraat” (now called
      “Joden-breestraat,” No. 4) occupied and owned by Rembrandt from 1639
      until 1658 (see _plate 16_).  On the canal behind was the Synagogue
      of his friend Menasseh-ben-Israel.  The bridge and sluice seen on
      _plate 17_ is the one between this red number and number 1.
      5. House on the “Rosengracht” (now No. 184) where Rembrandt lived
      during the last ten years of his life.
      6. The “Bloemgracht” where Rembrandt is said to have used a
      store-house as a studio, principally for his pupils, during his
      first years in Amsterdam.
      7. The place where Rembrandt’s son Titus lived, on the “Singel,”
      opposite the apple-market, in 1668, during his short married life
      (see _plate 11_).
      8. House on the “Keizersgracht” (now No. 208) of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp,
      the principal person in Rembrandt’s painting _The Anatomical
      Lesson._  Next to him lived Dr. Aernout Tholinx, whose portrait was
      etched and painted by Rembrandt.
      9. House on the “Singel” (now Nos. 140-142) of Mr. F. Banning Cocq,
      the Captain in Rembrandt’s masterwork, _The Night-watch_ (see _plate
      23_).
      10. House on the “Kloveniersburgwal” (now No. 47) in which
      apparently lived Mr. Jan Six, a well-known and influential person in
      Rembrandt’s life, whose painted and etched portraits count among
      Rembrandt’s finest productions.
      11. House in the “Kalverstraat” (now No. 10) of the print-dealer and
      publisher Clement de Jonghe whose portrait Rembrandt etched.
      12. The old St. Anthony-gate, in Rembrandt’s days Public
      Weighing-House, and, on the first floor, the seat of the Surgeon’s
      Guild, of which Dr. Tulp and Dr. Deyman were the foremen.
      13. The “Doelen,” meeting-place of the Civic Guard, for which
      Rembrandt’s _Nightwatch_ was painted.  At its side the tower,
      Swyght-Utrecht (see _plates 18_,_19_,_20_).
      14. The Staalhof, the office for which Rembrandt executed his
      celebrated picture known as _The Syndics._
      15. The inn called De Keizers Kroon in the Kalverstraat (now No. 71)
      where Rembrandt’s collections were sold at auction, after his
      bankruptcy, in 1657 and 1658 (see _plate 22_).
      16. The Dam, with the town-hall on the right and the Public
      Weighing-House in the middle (see plates _2_,_3_,_4_).
      17. The bridge called Grimnessesluis (see _plate 5_).
      18. The St. Anthony-gate (see _plate 6_) at the end of the street
      where Rembrandt lived.
      19. The spot where Rembrandt has apparently sketched the mills and
      the views of the town (see _plate 7_).
      20. The tower called Montelbaanstoren (see plates _9_ and _10_) and
      the bridge from which Rembrandt sketched it.
      21. The bridge called “Leliebrug,” from which Rembrandt sketched the
      tower of the church called _Westerkerk_.  This church, on the map,
      is between the bridge and the house numbered 8.  (See _plate 13_.)
      In this church Rembrandt was buried.
      22. About this spot Rembrandt must have found the subject for his
      etching _View of Amsterdam_ (see Frontispiece, _plate 1_). When this
      etching was executed, the tongue of land, near there, with the two
      bastions, did not yet exist.
      23. Bridge called Blaubrug (Blue Bridge) where Rembrandt sketched
      the perspective along the Amstel river.
      24. Houses on the “Singel” (now Nos. 234-236) where the caligrapher
      Lieven Willemsz. Coppenal, an intimate friend of Rembrandt, had his
      school, and probably lived.
      25. House on the “Keizersgracht” (stated as the second house from
      the “Beerenstraat”), where the painter Johan van de Cappelle, a
      friend and fervent admirer of Rembrandt, lived until 1663.
      26. House in the “Koestraat” (now No. 15), where the same painter
      lived after 1663. This house, until then, had been inhabited by the
      celebrated musician Sweelinck and his descendants.
      27. House on the “Lauriergracht” (probably between the first and
      second bridge) where Rembrandt’s pupil Govert Flinck lived from
      1644, until his death in 1660.  Ten years earlier he was staying in
      the house of the dealer Hendrick Uylenburgh (see above) where
      Rembrandt then also lived.

To locate the houses of some others of Rembrandt’s artist-friends and
pupils is more difficult: Ferdinand Bol lived, in Rembrandt’s time, on the
"Fluweele burgwal" (i.e., on the map, the left-hand side of the canal
numbered 28), and afterwards in the new extension on the "Keizersgracht"
near the "Spiegelstraat." So did Gerbrand van den Eeckfwut, who died on
the "Heeren-gracht" near the " Viyselstraat." Philips Koninck lived, in
Rembrandt’s time, on the "Keizersgracht," the same canal where we found
Tulp and van de Cappelle.



REMBRANDT’S AMSTERDAM


                              By Frits Lugt


                                    I


               [Plate 1. View of Amsterdam from the East. ]

Plate 1. View of Amsterdam from the East. _(reversed)_. After the etching
                               by Rembrandt


“The city seems to float upon the waters and looks like the sovereign of
the deep. It is crowded with merchants of every nation and its habitants
are themselves the most eminent merchants in the world.  It appears, at
first, not to be the city of any particular people, but to be common to
all, as the centre of their commerce.  The vessels in this harbour are so
numerous, as almost to hide the water in which they float; and the masts
look at a distance like a forest.”

“I gazed, with insatiable curiosity, upon this great city, in which
everything was in motion.”

This impression of Amsterdam by a seventeenth century author (1) takes us
back to the time when no rivals had yet contested with the town its
commercial monopoly,— when its full and radiant display struck the eyes of
every visitor.  Tempted though we feel to recall this glorious past (the
period and direct surroundings of its greatest painter), we naturally take
Amsterdam’s present state as a basis, and in doing so painfully notice the
loss of precious reminiscences which the course of time has inevitably
involved.  But realising that such loss is not only the consequence of
neglect and lack of respect, and that to a large degree modern life with
its different requirements and intensity forcibly causes cruel changes, we
must conquer our regrets and rather view with open eyes the vitality of
the town and the renewed energy of its present existence.  Sad indeed is
the aspect of towns, known as “dead cities,” which preserve their old
architectural appearance, and where all life seems extinguished.  They are
but their own shadows and a perpetual outcry against the reverses of Fate
or the relaxation of human energy, which proved unable to carry on the
aspirations of preceding generations.  Fortunately Amsterdam escaped this
disgrace, because its spark of life never quite died out; the burning
vigour of its inhabitants, which was instrumental in raising the town’s
prosperity in the seventeenth century, may seem a high-flaming fire
compared to the peaceful existence of its rich population in the
eighteenth century; and it may be true that the former energy and
enterprise were reduced to glowing embers about the beginning of the
nineteenth century; but let it be recognised that the same fire always
smouldered and that it is now spreading anew with a sympathetic
stubbornness.  When Motley says, in his “History of the United
Netherlands,” that the Dutch Republic was “sea-born and sea-sustained,” we
have to apply this, in the first place, to its most important town,
Amsterdam, and if we then remember that the suppression of a nation
accustomed to maritime pursuits is one of the rarest things in history, we
shall arrive at a better understanding of Amsterdam’s vitality.

In a town where life so maintained its course, we cannot expect to find
whole quarters preserved, just as they appeared in the first half of the
seventeenth century; the general disposition of the town, however, is so
original and effective that its indestructible plan survived until our
days.  There are in the world but few towns that possess such a charming
singularity, and Venice is probably the only town offering a similar
attraction, although it differs in many respects.  Hence, Amsterdam’s
surname of _The Venice of the North_ is easily accounted for, and appears
already in the writings of Guicciardini, the sixteenth-century historian.
It is the water that lends to the town its peculiar charm, and while some
canals had to be filled in to create carriage accommodation in the old
parts, most were preserved, and though in their water other house-fronts
are reflected, the visitor can reconstruct, without great difficulty, a
vision of Amsterdam in Rembrandt’s days.

Let us offer some help to the visitor in his efforts to revive the old
town in his imagination.  Such assistance is needed, because Amsterdam is
not a place where one would prefer to be left alone with his dreams.
Modern life overshadows the past to such an extent, that one cannot
transpose one’s self three centuries by simply eliminating the present;
there are no ruins which induce us to reconstruct, in our mind, that which
has vanished, no population which has arrested its progress at the period
of its greatest prosperity.  Fortunately the _nature_ of Amsterdam’s
beauty and originality has not changed and from this fact every newcomer
may derive great help in his efforts to rebuild the scenes of bygone
times.

First of all, let the stranger take into consideration that Rembrandt took
up his abode in the town when it was rapidly growing, and when the
picturesqueness of its late-mediaeval appearance had to concede to graver
conceptions, based on the classics and the Italian renaissance.  Let him
remember that the threefold girdle of wide canals lined with big houses,
which now embraces the old city, was at that time only in course of
construction, and that less stately canals preserved a more intimate
aspect.  These narrower waterways in the heart of the old town, filled
with barges between quays crowded with merchandise, reveal more the city’s
growth and nature,—the stately but less lively canals of a later extension
typify better the pride and ease ensuing from the reaped harvest.

When Rembrandt came to Amsterdam about 1631 he found the town broken
through its boundaries and new quarters risen on the fields outside, which
a former generation had known only as meadows and vegetable gardens.  The
artist must have noticed many changes even since he passed his years of
apprenticeship in Amsterdam in the studio of Pieter Lastman, returning
again to his native town Leyden during the intermediate seven or eight
years.

Until the period of Rembrandt’s settling in Amsterdam, this city, although
having been long the metropolis of the Northern Netherlands, had not been
very different in aspect to other important Dutch towns; its
seventeenth-century buildings belong to the same school of architecture as
those of the other cities, like Haarlem, Alkmaar, Leyden.  Its immense
prosperity and development as Europe’s most important seaport since about
1600, however, originated a notable change: its aspect gradually became
more individual, until in the second part of the golden century it had
assumed the grandeur worthy of “the capital of Europe, the neighbours’
support and hope,” as our greatest poet then justly called her.  Important
buildings and a very logically and royally planned extension of its canals
and streets were the causes of this alteration.  We do not know of any
other big town of that period so systematically laid out, with such a
preservation of its original beauty and with such an outspoken aim to
obtain in its new thoroughfares a similar attraction to the eyes.  Of all
the cities of the Netherlands none possessed the means, or were forced to
undertake such big works, as Amsterdam.  Consequently the best Dutch
architects of that time erected their finest and most important edifices
in Amsterdam, and very often exclusively built there; and this accounts
for her assuming that individual aspect of stateliness.

Rembrandt got acquainted in Amsterdam with two distinct architectural
periods: 1st, the one just closed on his arrival, dominated by the eminent
architect and sculptor Hendrick de Keyser (father of the celebrated
portrait-painter Thomas de Keyser); 2d, the following period, influenced
by Jacob van Campen.  The first period enriched Amsterdam with a great
number of buildings, generally in red brick with decorations in clear
sandstone, of a varied and often baroque appearance; their style, although
based on early sixteenth-century Italian renaissance, may be called a
typical Dutch one, strongly personified as it was, towards the end of the
sixteenth century, by Netherlandish architects, like Cornells Floris and
Vredeman de Vries.—In the second period, when the classical style after
Palladio became generally accepted, the variety of aspect and the baroque
details had to yield to monumentality and severity.

                [Plate 2. The Old Town Hall in Amsterdam.]

  Plate 2. The Old Town Hall in Amsterdam. After an engraving by Cl. Jz.
                                Visscher.


The spirit of the town’s aspirations is best reflected in her town-hall,
which marks the culminating point of her evolution (about 1650).  That
imposing square building, still in existence in Amsterdam’s centre, called
the Dam, must be familiar to all who have visited the town, and the
interested art-lover may have noted that this building, grand and
magnificent as it is, has no typical Dutch character such as marks
Amsterdam’s earlier buildings.  He will have remarked a strong tendency to
the classic style of Italy, and the rich marble sculptures inside must
have appeared to him as belonging to another school than the contemporary
Dutch pictures, which he admired in Amsterdam’s Rÿksmuseum.  In this
circumstance we may find the clue to the disharmony which existed between
Rembrandt and his surroundings in his later years.  His art and the spirit
of his contemporaries were going athwart with different aims.  When the
artist settled down in Amsterdam, at the age of twenty-five, circumstances
were still favourable to a good mutual understanding: the ambitious and
pulsating spirit of the growing commercial city must have felt akin to the
boisterous aspirations of the young, gifted artist.  His great material
success during the first years furnishes a proof of this supposition.
Then more and more came the alienation, and it is most instructive to
compare the different results at which the artist and the intelligent
population arrived: the artist, guided by the strength of his immense
personality and talent, remained himself, but his fellow-citizens
gradually changed their taste and predilections in matters of art and
intellect, uncertain as they were of themselves in these matters.  Being
more gifted as traders than as artists, they showed that short-sightedness
and narrowmindedness in judging their contemporary artists, which so often
repeats itself in history (even in our time!).  They were unable to
understand the strength and value of the country’s native art, and turned
to foreign taste, even to foreign workmanship, as in the case of the
commission to Quellinus, the Flemish sculptor, to execute the sculptures
in the town-hall, thus emphasizing their preference for the school of
Rubens and Van Dyck above the one of Hals and Rembrandt.  This tendency
occasioned a preference for foreign theories and forms, and so we see
between 1648 and 1660 a town-hall built, ten times bigger than the former
one and costing, according to our money, about twenty million guilders,
resulting in a work of art, imposing but not essentially Dutch (plates
_2_, _3_, _4_).

 [Plate 3. The Ruins of the Old Town Hall in Amsterdam, after the Fire in
                                  1652.]

 Plate 3. The Ruins of the Old Town Hall in Amsterdam, after the Fire in
     1652. After the drawing by Rembrandt, formerly in the Heseltine
           Collection, now in the Rembrandt House in Amsterdam.


          [Plate 4. The New Town-Hall in Amsterdam, about 1660.]

Plate 4. The New Town-Hall in Amsterdam, about 1660.  The square building
 on the right is the public Weighing-House, where Rembrandt sketched the
ruins of the old town-hall (see preceding illustration).  After an etching
                        by J. van der Ulft, 1656.


       [Plate 5. The Bridge Called “Grimnessesluis” in Amsterdam.]

   Plate 5. The Bridge Called “Grimnessesluis” in Amsterdam.  After the
  drawing by Rembrandt in the Louvre, Paris.  Reproduced, by permission,
      from a copyright photograph by Messrs. Braun and Co., Dornach.


What we know of Rembrandt in connection with Amsterdam’s town-hall
supports the above theory: he seems to have liked the old building, a
Late-Gothic structure, as he sketched it twice, once after its fire in
1652.  On the other hand, when in 1662 he executes a large decoration for
the new town-hall, his work does not agree with the taste of his
contemporaries and is returned to him (_The Plot of Claudius Civilis_, now
much cut down, in the Museum at Stockholm).  Considering Rembrandt’s style
of expressing himself in his work, we find many instances to convince us
of his preference for the architectural forms of an earlier period and of
his lack of sympathy for those which were introduced during the later part
of his life.  Is it to be wondered at that he, the warm-feeling artist,
offspring of a school which affected richness and baroque, was no friend
of a new tendency, the stateliness and broadness of which were bound to
degenerate into coldness and stiffness?  Looking through his drawings and
etchings (his pictures leave us no town-views taken from nature), we
occasionally meet views of town-gates, old houses alone or crowded
together, mills, all obviously sketched on account of a charm akin to
Rembrandt’s nature but foreign to the greatest part of the lay population
of Amsterdam.   Some illustrations will show the master’s preferences: a
view on a little old bridge between compact houses, a spot called
_Grimnessesluis_, still forming nowadays, notwithstanding many later
alterations, one of the most typical views of old Amsterdam (_plate 5_).
We must here resist the temptation of reproducing some of Rembrandt’s
drawings of picturesque towngates (like those in the Louvre, Rÿksmuseum at
Amsterdam, the collections of M. Bonnat, the Duke of Devonshire, and
Teyler at Haarlem),(2) because these appear to have been done on an
excursion through the Netherlands, and cannot be identified with former
gates of Amsterdam; there is, however, another drawing, more closely
connected with landscape, giving a view of St. Anthony’s Gate, quite near
Rembrandt’s house, at the end of the street where he lived, taken from the
north outside the bulwark (_plate 6_).  On the opposite side of the town
Rembrandt did that delightful sketch with the many mills in the foreground
(_plate 7_).  In the city he again sketched a former fortification-tower,
called Montelbaenstoren (_plate 9_), showing to its right a perspective of
the harbour.  We miss in this drawing the steeple, with which it had been
ornamented since 1606; the municipality had the good sense, when new
extensions were carried out in the beginning of the seventeenth century,
to preserve the old fortification-towers which became useless because of
the ramparts stretching farther, and to transform them into belfries by
giving them graceful steeples with carillons.  Some of them, like the one
mentioned here, have lasted till our days; and when the stranger is kept
awake at night, in his hotel, by the gay clangor of their bells, he may
grumble at them, unused as he is to their music, but when he hears them in
daytime he should respect these three-centuries-old tones and meditate
like Rossetti, when he was impressed by Van Eyck’s and Memling’s works in
Bruges:—


    The carillon, which then did strike
    Mine ears, was heard of theirs alike;
    It set me closer unto them.


[Plate 6. View of the Ramparts of Amsterdam, with the St. Anthony-Gate in
                              the Distance.]

 Plate 6. View of the Ramparts of Amsterdam, with the St. Anthony-Gate in
 the Distance.  After the drawing by Rembrandt, formerly in the Heseltine
                               Collection.


 [Plate 7. Mills on the West Side of Amsterdam, Looking Toward the Town]

  Plate 7. Mills on the West Side of Amsterdam, Looking Toward the Town.
After the drawing by Rembrandt, formerly in the Heseltine Collection, now
                  in a private collection in Kopenhagen.


    [Plate 8. View of the Same Side of Town as in Plate 7, but Looking
                                Outward. ]

Plate 8. View of the Same Side of Town as in Plate 7, but Looking Outward.
 The tower on the left is the same as sketched by Rembrandt (_plate 13_).
                After an etching by R. Zeeman, about 1650.


A more complete view of this site the reader will find in an etching by
Zeeman (_plate 10_), where the tower is seen with its steeple which
Rembrandt omitted because he considered the comparatively modern top in
disharmony with the older body of the tower, or rather for the simple
reason that his paper did not allow him sufficient space.  Another
steepleless tower is drawn by him when he sketches the stronghold
Swyght-Utrecht with adjacent buildings (plates _12_ and _20_).  Finally,
there is the drawing of the tower of the Westerkerk, the only sketch after
a more severe architecture, rather a transition from the earlier style of
De Keyser to the later one of Van Campen (_plate 13_).

       [Plate 9. The Tower Called “Montelraanstoren” In Amsterdam]

   Plate 9. The Tower Called “Montelraanstoren” In Amsterdam After the
  drawing by Rembrandt, formerly in the Heseltine Collection, now in the
                        Rembrandt House, Amsterdam


  [Plate 10.  The Same Tower as in the Preceding Illustration, with its
                        Steeple and Surroundings.]

   Plate 10.  The Same Tower as in the Preceding Illustration, with its
   Steeple and Surroundings. After an etching by R. Zeeman, about 1650.


           [Plate 11. The Canal called “Singel” in Amsterdam. ]

 Plate 11. The Canal called “Singel” in Amsterdam. On the left-hand side
   Rembrandt’s son, Titus, lived during his short married life.  In the
 distance, the “Janroopoortstoren”.  After an etching by R. Zeeman, about
                                  1650.


In trying to reconstruct a picture of Amsterdam in Rembrandt’s time, we
must realise the architectural _forms_ as well as the _colours_. It is
natural that the town’s colouristic aspect should harmonize with the
colour schemes which we admire in Holland, in its landscapes, on its
rivers and seacoast, in the pictorial masterpieces of its artists and in
its interiors, which means that in the city also we are fascinated by the
richness of tints, always subdued and variegated by a certain haziness.
It is a richness of a very subtle nature: no opposition of strong tints,
but an endless, mostly light-scaled variety of transitions, now and then
relieved by a more powerful note like the red of a roof or the paint of a
boat; these higher notes are generally of a freshness as if they had been
washed by a recent rain.  Against a sky, of which the blue or the clouds
bear a bloom of a silvery hue, the houses show the tone of their bricks
going from red-brown to a pale purple in so many deviations that the
uniform indication of red would be unjust.  The trembling of the lights
and shades of water all through the town and the green of so many trees
planted along the quays, were of course two conditions which strongly
helped in producing a particular colouristic charm and which meant an
advantage over so many foreign towns.  Both these elements were and are
still not to be found to such an extent in any other city, Venice
naturally excepted on account of her waterways.  Concentrating our
attention rather on colour than shape, we might retain for one moment the
comparison with Venice, as it may help us to understand still better the
value of what we were just admiring in Amsterdam.  By reason of their
situation, their prosperity, their universality, their natural educational
advantages, both towns were, so to say, bound to produce a great school of
painters, and we need not here allude to the glory with which both towns
covered themselves on this field in the eyes of the art world.  Stress
should, however, be laid here on the fact that the two towns in question
brought forth the two greatest schools of colourists, a fact which shows
how in these centres circumstances favour the development of colouristic
talents.  Mindful of the fact that the great painters are our teachers in
the appreciation of nature’s beauties and charms, we should, for our own
instruction, contrast the two schools and try to discern the difference in
their common merits.  We shall then notice that “richness in colour” does
not mean the same in both cities.  As opposed to the abundance of glowing
colours on the exuberant Venetian palette, we should place the subtile
gradations, the well-balanced and restrained splendour and the endless
variations of the seemingly restricted colour scale of the Dutch artist.
We shall so learn to love both better than we did before and, needless to
say, our eyes will then be more open to the value of Amsterdam’s scenery
which so often inspired or stimulated the painters.

    [Plate 12. The Tower called “Swyght-Utrecht”, and the “Doelen” in
                                Amsterdam]

Plate 12. The Tower called “Swyght-Utrecht”, and the “Doelen” in Amsterdam
(see _plate 20_). After the drawing by Rembrandt in the collection of Dr.
                    C. Hofsteded de Groot, The Hague.


After this little excursion let us reconsider the town’s appearance.  In
doing so, we must remember that it was already highly flourishing when
Rembrandt settled within its ramparts; consequently it is clear that by
far the greater part of the living houses belonged to the more picturesque
preceding period.  The houses generally had three or four stories, and
their fronts were without exception crowned by pointed gables, most of
them stepped.  In the older quarters, where the houses were more crowded
together, they very often had more stories and were strangely tall, but
everywhere that irregular saw-like profile, formed by the steep-pitched
gable-tops, appeared silhouetted against the sky (horizontal roof-lines,
more in accordance with the new style of Van Campen, were slowly
introduced but remained scarce).  All these house-fronts were, as we said
before, gay in colour and enlivened by sandstone ornaments, windows with
their small glistening panes set in lead, brightly painted shutters, here
and there woodwork decorating the house-fronts, and as a rule an
artistically carved stone-panel with figures and inscription or date
lending a separate character to each house.  The house in which Rembrandt
passed most of the years and in which he knew fortune and fame as well as
sorrow and reverse, offers a good type of the then prevailing domestic
architecture (_plate 16_).  The house still exists and has become, since
its restoration, a few years ago, a place of pilgrimage for art-loving
tourists.  We must, however, here call attention to a fact which is
generally unknown to the public, namely, that, though restored, the house
does not appear as it probably looked when Rembrandt lived in it.  This
does not so much apply to the interior, because everybody will understand
the impossibility of reconstructing the artist’s direct surroundings, for
lack of the furniture and works of art with which Rembrandt had crowded
it.  More noteworthy is the fact that the facade has quite a different
character.  The outer appearance of a house should as much as possible
give a true illustration of the time at which it was built, especially as
this one had retained its original form, apparently, when its greatest
occupant inhabited it.  In its restored condition it still preserves
important additions which date from a later period.  The two sketches on
_plate 16_ show us how the original picturesque stepped gable was changed
into a cornice with a tympanon, giving a different appearance to the
house.  Any eye familiar with Dutch architecture will detect in the front,
in its present state, a difference in period between its lower and upper
part.  The latter is about fifty years later, and the whole shows a
mixture of the two styles which we have described: the earlier, varied
style of a De Keyser and the later, more classical style of Van Campen’s
school (his pupil Vingboons?).  Probability, based on maps and documents
like Rembrandt’s inventory of 1656, and a recently discovered account
regarding alterations done by the subsequent owners, and, moreover, the
convincing difference in style, lead us to the conviction that the
alteration in the front dates very shortly after Rembrandt’s departure
from the house, i.e. about 1660, when it was divided into two narrower
residences.  The house-front, as it looks now, was probably familiar to
Rembrandt in the last ten years of his life, even though we take into
consideration his probable disinclination to look again and again at the
place, where he had passed twenty years of his life, and where misfortune
had cruelly put an end to better days; it is, however, an open question
whether such a consideration offers sufficient ground for a restoration of
the kind recently carried out.  Nevertheless we have to be thankful to the
trustees that the house was saved, because it is Rembrandt’s most intimate
memorial, aside from his own work, left to posterity.

         [Plate 13. The Tower Called “Westertoren” In Amsterdam.]

 Plate 13. The Tower Called “Westertoren” In Amsterdam. After the drawing
               by Rembrandt, in the Fodor Museum, Amsterdam


       [Plate 14. The Canal called “Prinsengracht” in Amsterdam. ]

Plate 14. The Canal called “Prinsengracht” in Amsterdam. The tower seen on
  the left is the same as seen in the preceding illustration.  After an
                    etching by R. Zeeman, about 1650.


    [Plate 15. The St. Anthony-Market in Amsterdam, with the Old Gate
                   Transformed into a Weighing-House. ]

     Plate 15. The St. Anthony-Market in Amsterdam, with the Old Gate
 Transformed into a Weighing-House.  After an etching by R. Zeeman, about
                                  1650.


[Plate 16. Rembrandt’s House In The “St. Anthonie-breestraat” In Amsterdam
                                    ]

Plate 16. Rembrandt’s House In The “St. Anthonie-breestraat” In Amsterdam
  On the left: As it must have looked when Rembrandt occupied it. On the
                          right: Present state.


This house welcomed Rembrandt in 1639, when he acquired it for 13,000
florins (a good price in those days, showing that it was a desirable
residence) and saw itself adorned with a unique collection of works of art
which its owner, passionate collector that he was, did not cease to
enlarge.  That same house saw its illustrious occupant become more and
more retiring, misunderstood by the majority of the public and finally
struck by reverses, till a total bankruptcy necessitated the sale of the
house in 1658.  It has often been thought, that his undying mania for
collecting was the principal cause of his misfortune, but a document,
recently discovered, shows that Rembrandt was, like so many of his
fellow-citizens, the victim of the economic reverses caused by the first
Anglo-Dutch war.  In 1653 nearly the whole trade was at a standstill, 1500
houses (others speak of double the number) stood empty, and on the 27th of
June even the magistrate decided to leave off one of the two principal
stories from its new magnificent town-hall, then in course of
construction, a resolution which fortunately was revoked two years later.
As a matter of fact trade weakened heavily until 1660, suffering reverses,
not only from England’s attitude, but also from France’s and Sweden’s
fiendish acts.  Although the town energetically opposed its enemies, often
against the will of the Netherlands’ States, it could not at once redress
its internal depression, and we should not wonder at seeing the artist
Rembrandt among the victims.  He avows in the document that he lost
considerably in trade, especially in maritime ventures.  It seems that the
trading hobby, innate in most Dutchmen at that time, was also strong in
him; in an act of 1634 we see him already designated as “merchant” and not
as artist!

The house seems rather to have gone up in value, for it realised in these
bad times nearly as much as Rembrandt had originally paid for it.  This is
not to be wondered at, as it stood in a very profitable quarter.  The
street followed the course of a dike, called the St. Anthoniesdÿk, from
which it derived its name; this dike was then and had always been an
important way of access to Amsterdam, as it was the only direct route to
Diemen, Weesp, and Muiden. In the beginning of the seventeenth century it
was inhabited by many aristocratic families, with whom gradually
intermingled Portuguese Jewish refugees, as this was a new quarter where
they could more easily find living accommodation.  As time went on, Jewish
occupants began to dominate, and towards the close of the century the
street was for that reason rebaptised from St. Anthoniebreestraat into
Joden (= Jews’) breestraat.  We find this change illustrated in the fact
that, when Rembrandt bought this house, one of his neighbours was a Jew,
called Salvador Rodrigue, the other a Christian fellow-painter Nicolaes
Eliasz, but when he left the house, Eliasz had died in 1654 and been
succeeded by Daniel Pinto, again a noted Jewish name.  These Portuguese
Jewish families were a great advantage to the town and should in no way be
placed on a par with the poor Jews, mostly of German and Polish descent,
now occupying this quarter.  The Portuguese Jews were highly cultured,
well-to-do, orderly, and clean people; one of their most brilliant minds
was Menasseh-ben-Israel, Rabbi at the Synagogue situated on a canal just
behind Rembrandt’s house, a great linguist, the first Hebraic printer in
the Netherlands, the teacher of the celebrated philosopher Spinoza, a
sympathetic and admirable figure, whom we see until the close of his life
in friendly relations with Rembrandt.

     [Plate 17.  The Bridge and Sluice called “St. Anthonie-sluis” in
                    Amsterdam, seen from the North. ]

Plate 17.  The Bridge and Sluice called “St. Anthonie-sluis” in Amsterdam,
seen from the North. Rembrandt’s home (_plate 16_) stood in the immediate
  vicinity of this spot.  After the drawing by A. Waterloo, in the Fodor
                            Museum, Amsterdam.


If from this centre we look a little further around, we find in the same
quarter other sites memorable in the artist’s life: first of all in the
same street, also near the bridge where Rembrandt’s own house stood, we
recognise the house of Mr. Hendrick Uylenburgh, a noted dealer in pictures
and works of art and a publisher, with whom Rembrandt stood in close
relation while yet residing in Leyden.  This relationship was further
strengthened when the artist, coming for good to Amsterdam, resided with
Uylenburgh and remained in his house for some years, during which time he
had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of Uylenburgh’s charming
cousin Saskia, Rembrandt’s future wife.  He married her in 1634, remaining
at Uylenburgh’s house until 1635.  During these years Rembrandt seems to
have kept a large studio, especially for his pupils, in a warehouse on the
Bloemgracht, a quarter where we shall find him again much later.  Passing
along the same street, towards the centre of the town, we pass on the
right, opposite the Zuiderkerk, the house where Lastman lived when he
instructed the young Rembrandt, and at the end of the street we notice a
heavy Late-Gothic building, the St. Anthonieswaag, formerly one of the
gates, when the town was less extensive, but now changed into a Public
Weighing House.  Rembrandt’s contemporary, the etcher Zeeman, has left us
a charming little print of this edifice, reproduced on _plate 15_.  The
reason it should now interest us is because on its first floor it lodged
the Surgeons’ Guild, for which Rembrandt painted, in 1632, his celebrated
_Anatomical Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp_, now in the museum at The Hague.
The commission for this masterpiece of Rembrandt’s younger years was
perhaps, because of its dimensions, one of the reasons for his removal
from Leyden to Amsterdam, as its date corresponds with his establishment
in Amsterdam.  During two centuries the picture ornamented the interior of
this building, together with another, still more wonderful, painting by
him, _The Anatomical Lesson of Dr. Deyman_, of which only a central
fragment was saved from a fire, now in the Amsterdam Ryksmuseum.  Turning
our back to the big building and following the canal partly reproduced in
the foreground of Zeeman’s etching, we pass on the left the house of Mr.
Six, whom Rembrandt must have visited often, and come in a few minutes
into the Doelenstraat, at the corner of which stood a massive tower,
remainder of ancient fortifications, sketched by Rembrandt as we saw on
_plate 12_.  Next to this building was the Doelen (part of its back can be
seen on the master’s above-mentioned drawing), the meeting-place of the
civic guards, now changed into a hotel of the same name, but in
Rembrandt’s day the place where the painter’s most famous picture, _The
Night Watch_, was kept, since a captain of the guards, Banning Cocq, had
the daring idea of entrusting Rembrandt with the commission to portray him
and his company.  Two houses further along the street (a site now occupied
by a bank, next to Messrs. Frederik Muller & Co.) we must pay attention to
the place where Rembrandt lived in 1636. After his removal from his cousin
Uylenburgh’s house, Rembrandt himself states this address as “next to the
pensionary Boreel” in a letter to the Prince of Orange’s secretary,
Huygens, a letter now preserved in the collection of Mr. Paul Warburg in
New York.  That house must have been brand new in 1636, as building on
that side of the Doelenstraat was only started in 1635 (plates _18_, _19_,
and _20_).  It seems, however, not to have satisfied the painter, because
three years later, before his removal to his own house in the St.
Anthoniebreestraat, he gives his address, in another letter to Huygens, as
being on the Amstel in a house called De suikerbakkerÿ (the sugar
refinery) the exact situation of which has not yet been traced.

       [Plate 18. The “doelenstraat” In Amsterdam (old situation) ]

  Plate 18. The “doelenstraat” In Amsterdam (old situation) The receding
building, behind the low wall with gate, on the right, is the “Doelen” for
  which Rembrandt painted “The Night Watch.” The house where the master
 lived in 1636 was next to the house seen on the extreme right. The tower
seen above the roof is the one sketched by Rembrandt (_plate 12_). Compare
   also _plate 20_ After the drawing by R. Vinkeles in the Archives in
                                Amsterdam


Returning from this Doelenstraat to Rembrandt’s restored house where we
started our little excursion, and taking a street called the Staalstraat
on our right, we should observe a building on our left called the
Staalhof, the birthplace of that other masterpiece, rivalling _The Night
Watch_ in fame, namely The Staalmeesters (The Syndics). When this great
painting was achieved in 1661, Rembrandt, forced by the sale of his house,
had already left this quarter of the town, but it is pleasing to notice
that the Staalmeesters had not forgotten the great painter, who had long
lived in their neighbourhood.

 [Plate 19. The Back of the Houses in the “Doelenstraat” in Amsterdam. ]

 Plate 19. The Back of the Houses in the “Doelenstraat” in Amsterdam. The
 narrow house in the middle, two windows wide, is, although rebuilt, the
 one where Rembrandt lived in 1636.  To the left, part of Messrs. Frederk
               Muller & Co.’s aution and exhibition rooms.


 [Plate 20. The Tower “Swyght-Utrecht” and the Backs of the Houses of the
                      “Doelenstraat” in Amsterdam.]

 Plate 20. The Tower “Swyght-Utrecht” and the Backs of the Houses of the
 “Doelenstraat” in Amsterdam. The third house from the tower must be the
  one occupied by Rembrandt in 1636.  After an engraving by van Meurs of
                               about 1660.


               [Plate 21. The Old Exchange in Amsterdam. ]

  Plate 21. The Old Exchange in Amsterdam. After an engraving by Cl. Jz.
                                Visscher.


To complete our survey of Rembrandt’s dwellings in Amsterdam, we must
finally follow him on his retirement, when, owing to his bankruptcy, his
wonderful collection had been dispersed to the winds under the
auctioneer’s hammer, and when he had to leave his large house, the court
allowing him to take only two stoves and some partitions in the attic.  We
have therefore to cross the entire town in its width and repair to its
western extension, where he lived about ten years until his death, most of
this time in the company of his son Titus, and with his second wife
Hendrickje Stoffels, until her death in 1664.  On examining the map of the
town and comparing the design of the new western quarters around the
Rozengracht with the remainder of the town, we observe an incongruity in
city planning, which calls for an explanation.  The oldest part in the
centre faces the harbour and logically follows upwards the course of the
Amstel River; the lay-out of the canals in that part is in accordance
therewith, because they really are the former moats surrounding the
protecting walls incorporated in the town during its various extensions
from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century.  The following plan of the
three canals, Heerengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht, the
beginning of which on the west side takes place in Rembrandt’s time,
coincides with the fan-shaped plan of the town, but the outer quarters,
including the Rozengracht, seem in disharmony.  The reason must be sought
in the circumstance that the exploitation of these districts had to be
kept on an economical scale, since the three principal canals mentioned
above had been undertaken on so royal a scale.  Therefore the existing
features were preserved: the many ditches, separating the meadows and
gardens formerly occupying this site, were simply widened into canals; and
the pathways, running between, were transformed into streets.  The
peculiar characteristics of this part of the town, due to these conditions
of growth, made it into a typical quarter, known as the Jordaan; its
population has always been one of modest means, mixing little with the
town.  So we see that it was very appropriate for the painter’s
retirement, after his social downfall in the late fifties.

    [Plate 22. The Inn Called “de Keizers Kroon” In The Kalverstraat,
                                Amsterdam]

     Plate 22. The Inn Called “de Keizers Kroon” In The Kalverstraat,
 Amsterdam. Here Rembrandt’s collections were sold by auction, after his
 bankruptcy, in 1657 and 1058. After an anonymous drawing in the Archives
                              in Amsterdam.


Not only the direction of its canals and streets remind one of the former
nature of this quarter, the places of amusement likewise are reminiscent
of the times when well-to-do citizens had their gardens and
pleasuregrounds amidst the meadows, before the city encroached upon them.
There were, for instance, two large gardens with mazes and fountains,
formerly the property of Amsterdam burghers, afterwards for many years an
attraction for the public.  One of them, at the end of the Rozengracht,
was owned and managed by Lingelbach, the father of Johan the painter.  An
inscription in the burial-book of the Westerkerk, saying that Rembrandt’s
corpse came on the 8th of October, 1669, “from the Rozengracht opposite
the Labyrinth,” painfully reminds us how for the last sad years of his
life the great painter had lived opposite this popular place of public
amusement.

                   [The House Of Mr. F. Banning Cocq ]

  Plate 23. The House Of Mr. F. Banning Cocq (the Captain And Prominent
   Person In Rembrandt’s “Night-watch”) In Amsterdam After an anonymous
     drawing in the family archives of Jhr. D. de Graeff at The Hague



                                    II


Having dealt with the town’s appearance, principally from an architectural
point of view, in the preceding pages, because architecture is so
essential in expressing a people’s character and aspirations, we must now
give our attention to another condition instrumental in completing a
town’s aspect, namely, the daily life which is animating it.  We,
fast-living twentieth-century people, are apt to suppose that life some
centuries ago was moving steadily but slowly, that people were spared the
enervating excitements of our own days and that they consequently had a
much more quiet and regular existence.  Contemporary documents prove that
this opinion is wrong, at least in so far as Amsterdam is concerned.
Already in 1618 the Venetian Antonio Donato wrote of Amsterdam that the
streets and public places were so thronged “that the scene looked like a
fair to end in one day”; and did not Descartes write in 1631, when he
resided in Amsterdam, that nobody noticed him because he was the only
non-tradesman in Amsterdam amidst a trading population, attentive to its
profits.  This reveals the bustling of the great commercial centre.  The
facts have nothing astonishing in them if we realise that Holland’s
commercial ships numbered half of the world’s trading-fleet and that
Amsterdam harboured most of them.(3) No wonder that, in such a town, life
was intense and that its strong pulsation was felt everywhere: in crowded
streets and quays, in numerous offices and warehouses, on the large
exchange, around the Public Weighing Houses, in the shops and
market-places, etc.  The ease and self-contentment with which the Dutch
were so often reproached at the time of the French Revolution, were then
unknown; on the contrary all was enterprise, action, and movement.  A
salutary freshness of spirit was favoured by the variety of people
crowding in this centre: the hospitality shown to people of various
religions, from the busy Jews, to the refugees of Antwerp and Flanders,
created a rivalry of interests, benefiting trade in general.

To this animation caused by commerce we must add the life brought into the
town’s thoroughfares by the people’s domestic and social existence, which
was in those days much more out-of-doors than it is now, just as there was
also a much less marked separation between the various classes: housewives
going to the markets, children playing in the streets, families reposing
in or before their open street-doors, people of the lower classes seeking
in the street what their narrow and close dwellings could not give them,
travellers being seen off at the harbourside or on the canal-quays,
costermongers praising their wares.  There was, for example, the daily
fishmarket behind the Dam, Amsterdam’s central square, of which the poet
Brederode has left us such vivid pictures, bringing to our ears all the
bargaining, shouting, and quarrelling of former days; there were numerous
other markets necessitated, not only by the town’s trade, but by its
every-day needs: the weekly market for butter and cheese, which until 1669
enlivened the Dam, where now electric cars circulate and a much
less-varied traffic passes by; the apple- and fruit-market on the Singel,
opposite the house where Rembrandt’s only son Titus passed the few months
of his married life; the flower-market, where the middleclass people found
the cheap floral decorations for their often gloomy interiors: the
meat-market in the Nes: the Monday’s market, on the Singel, of small
furniture and kitchen-utensils: the vegetable- and peat-market on the
Prinsengracht, etc.  That all good housewives, even those of middle and
upper classes, made it a rule to frequent these markets is revealed to us
not only by contemporary pictures but also by a passage in one of
Huygens’s letters to the Prince of Orange, in which this refined diplomat
from The Hague expresses his astonishment at seeing the wife of Admiral de
Ruyter go daily to market « le panier au bras. »

                   [Plate 24. The Star of the Kings. ]

    Plate 24. The Star of the Kings. Children before a street door on
Epiphany-evening.  After the drawing by Rembrandt, in the British Museum,
                        London.  Salting Bequest.


All these thousands of people, business-men, workmen, housewives, small
traders, went about in comparatively simple dresses, in which the black
and discreet colours predominated.  Against this sober background, the
multi-coloured garments of the numerous strangers from over-seas were set
off sharply: those of the Levantines, Persians, Poles, and others, who
congregated in this international mart.  What was said of the citizens’
dress does not imply that luxurious costumes were unknown in Amsterdam;
the younger people of course donned lighter and more elegant clothes, and
married ladies at home knew very well how to charm the eyes of their
visitors.  Gradually, as Amsterdam’s wealth increased, the upper classes
became more luxurious, and towards the end of Rembrandt’s life we see a
complete change effected: we may say that when the architects preferably
imitated the Italian Palladio or the French Mansart, and when the feebler
painters followed the degenerating taste of the public,— then the leading
classes took to French fashions, and wigs came into use.  Rembrandt’s
pictures show us sufficiently that he kept aloof from this deplorable but
fated change, and we must imagine him moving within the classes which
remained loyal to the solid habits of the first period of his life in
Amsterdam.

Mingling with this traffic we find the children amusing themselves,
venting their love of ridicule and, above all things, fighting, in those
parts from which they were later on banished on account of a more regular
education, or because of certain districts turning into exclusive shop- or
office-quarters.  Their playfulness fell again and again into wild
excesses, which forced the magistrate to pass prohibitive laws, in order
to protect citizens from injury and damage.  Add to this the great number
of beggars, peasant-people, many of them, impoverished by the wars,
bohemians, highwaymen, remnants of army-trains, all flocking to the great
centre in the hope of finding assistance, strolling musicians,
quacksalvers and mountebanks at market time (_plate 26_), periodic parades
of gaily-dressed civic guards.  Add to this the fairs, and we shall have
completed in our imagination a scene which is of the liveliest, and
certainly of a far greater charm and variety than our present more
   monotonous and regulated existence.  Rembrandt’s [Plate 25. Children
     Refore A Street Door: The One In The Middle With A “Rommelpot”]

  Plate 25. Children Refore A Street Door: The One In The Middle With A
“Rommelpot”. After the drawing by Rembrandt, in the British Museum, London


etchings and drawings give us numerous little illustrations in this
respect, as may be seen from the superb drawing lately added to the
British Museum by the Salting bequest, showing children going about with
the star (a structure of oiled paper on a stick, lit from behind with a
candle) on Epiphany-evening, and singing before the houses, as they also
did, some months later, on Shrove Tuesday, accompanying their songs with
the rommelpot, a musical instrument well known from Hals’s pictures, and
consisting of an earthenware pot, covered with parchment or bladder,
through which a stick was moved up and down (plates _24_ and _25_).
Rembrandt’s etchings reproducing tramps and street-types, like his
rat-killer, are no doubt so familiar to our readers that we need not
recall them by means of reproductions.

The tidiness and orderly habits of the Dutch were effective in putting
limits to the disorder and dirt which are so often the nuisance of
seaports.  This was still more obvious in the interiors of the
dwelling-houses where the Dutch housewives exerted the supremacy of their
cleaning and washing propensity, « cette propriété hollandaise qui
commence par étonner et qui finit, quand on demeure dans le pays, par
devenir un besoin, une nécessite…une vertu contagieuse, » as Havard says.
A similar sense of order was to be noted in the administration of public
charities: orphanages, asylums, hospitals, and similar institutions were
founded and generously endowed, mostly by private initiative, and were
organised in such a careful and sensible way that most of them have
 lasted, under the same rules, until our days.(4) Ascending [Plate 26. A
                     Quacksalver on a Market-Place. ]

     Plate 26. A Quacksalver on a Market-Place.  After the drawing by
    Rembrandt.  In the collection of Frederich August II, in Dresden.


to higher levels we again observe, in the town’s democratic magistrates,
that orderly spirit and caution which enabled these practical, vigilant
authorities to consolidate the town’s importance and to develop it to the
highest power in the Netherlands, dreaded by foreign competitors and
possessing, so to say, the supremacy of the sea.  They were characteristic
representatives of the citizens’ nature: cool-headedness and a very strong
feeling of independence, rooted in their own and their fathers’
emancipation from Spanish domination, and in their energetic
tradesmanship.  We here touch a more abstract subject, not less essential
in constituting the general disposition of the town, namely, the nature
and spirit of its individuals, forming, so to say, the town’s own soul.
This is a point that should not be overlooked, as the Dutch character and
demeanour are two things often misunderstood, which certainly require some
insight and explanation in order to be appreciated.

The modern civilized person who found himself transplanted in Amsterdam
250 years ago, might certainly be displeased with the behaviour of even
the better classes.  We readily concede that their manners were rather raw
and lacking in refinement.  Sir William Temple, in his “Observations,”
published three years after Rembrandt’s death, calls the Hollanders
“clownish and blunt,” and this typifies them in their attitude towards
intellectual foreign people.  Amongst themselves, even in circles where a
taste for art and science was well developed, coarse festivals, excessive
meals, and gross humour was often met with, peculiarities, however, which
the Dutchman had in common with Anglo-Saxons, Germans, and other Northern
races at that time.  The sense of independence and self-reliance, then
very strongly developed in the Hollanders, hindered the improvement which
the experience gained from foreign journeys to France and Italy, of a few
patricians, might have brought.  There was also the fact of Amsterdam
never having been, like The Hague, a princely residence with its trail of
ambassadors and nobility, for which reason the Hollanders in Amsterdam
remained more themselves, a characteristic even evident in our day.  But
if their manners formerly lagged somewhat behind, we must not forget that
most of their natural sterling qualities were allowed to develop freely.
These characteristics do not always strike the foreigner at first sight,
hidden as they are by a certain slowness in expression and heaviness in
deportment, springing from the Hollander’s habit of deliberation.  What
frequently is taken for coldness, for insensibility, for haughtiness,
appears to be reserve which is put aside only when the Hollander feels
very sure of his opinion.  To these typical qualities of a trading nation
must be added a perseverance of will and a determination to attain, which
are often wrongly interpreted as egotism.  Any one who has a real friend
among Dutchmen will appreciate him as a very staunch one, although it may
have taken some time to break the reserve!  Openness, good-heartedness,
generosity, will then be detected where they were at first not suspected.
It may now be understood that the intercourse with Rembrandt was far from
easy, because he was a typical Hollander, good-natured, but with an extra
amount of impulsiveness and self-esteem, as may be gathered from his
biography and from his work.  Consequently, if he had numerous
acquaintances, his real friends were not many.  We find for instance few
traces of intimate friendship with other painters, excepting his pupils,
although his fellow-artists were very numerous.  The landscape-painter
Roghman and the rich marine painter-amateur Van de Cappelle, perhaps also
Asselÿn, are about the only ones who seem to have been in close relation
with the master.  Of his pupils the most promising ones, Bol and Flinck,
rapidly estranged from their master both socially and artistically,—others
like Maes, de Gelder, and Hoogstraten returned to their native town
Dordrecht. Only Van den Eeckhout and Philips Koninck appear to have
remained on intimate terms with Rembrandt.  To his artist-friends we may
here add the calligrapher Lieven Coppenol, whose fine etched portraits by
Rembrandt the reader will remember, and very likely, too, the celebrated
silversmith _Lutma_, a man of a very personal talent.

After what was said of the town’s and its burghers’ outward appearance, we
would do well to devote another moment’s attention to what we called the
town’s soul and observe more closely the intellectual life of Amsterdam,
thus facilitating a more general understanding of the period.

At the time when Rembrandt established himself in Amsterdam, a great
improvement had taken place in its religious conditions. Ever since 1578
             the town had [Plate 27. Portrait Of Jan Lutma. ]

Plate 27. Portrait Of Jan Lutma.  From an impression, in the First State,
       of Rembrandt’s etching, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


been exclusively Protestant, but internal dissensions had succeeded the
abolition of the Roman Catholic Church, and in the beginning of the
seventeenth century had resulted in intense factional feeling.  Towards
1630 this storm had subsided and the magistrates, although themselves
clinging to the Reformed Protestant Church, did not further molest other
sects, such as the Remonstrants, Lutherans, Mennonites, and Walloons, who
were permitted to build their own churches.  The Catholics also were again
able to fulfill their religious duties on condition that they avoided
ostentation.  The Jews officiated in their own Synagogues and nowhere
enjoyed greater liberty than in Amsterdam.(5) The royal road of religious
tolerance, rare in those days, was more and more deliberately taken, and
it sounds well to hear how in 1660 Governor Stuyvesant, of New-Amsterdam
(New York), receives from his directors in Amsterdam the following
admonition to be less rigorous against other sects: “Let everybody remain
unmolested as long as he behaves modestly and peacefully, as long as he
does damage to nobody and does not oppose the magistrates.  This principle
of statesmanship and forbearance was always honoured by the government of
this city and the consequence was, that the persecuted and the downtrodden
from all countries congregated in this haven of refuge.  Tread in its
footsteps and you will be blessed.” This attitude, taken by the public
authorities, greatly promoted general welfare, spiritually as well as
materially. We may conclude from Rembrandt’s work how prejudices were then
overcome and how freely the leading intellects intermixed: the Calvinistic
Reformed Minister Sylvius, the Mennonite Minister Cornelis Anslo, the
Jewish doctor Ephraim Bonus, the Rabbi Menasseh-ben-Israel, whom we have
mentioned before, were among the master’s intimate friends, or were at
least so portrayed by him that we understand from the loving application,
manifested in his work, how deeply he appreciated their highly cultured
mind and heart.

This freedom of religion went hand in hand with an animated mental
evolution and naturally favoured it considerably. At the time of
Rembrandt’s settlement in Amsterdam we find proof of this in the
foundation, in 1632, of a classical school, the forerunner of the later
university, called the “Athenæum illustre,” where the celebrated
professors Vossius and Van Baerle (or Barloeus) initiated many youths into
the secrets of philosophy, languages, and other sciences.  Within the
leading classes of Amsterdam’s population, supported by the great
merchants, interest in matters of art and science strongly develops,
though as we noticed before, in the case of the town-hall architecture,
with a marked preference for classicism and all foreign civilization.  It
seems as though these clever merchants could not understand that their own
genial countrymen were sufficiently gifted and quite capable of
astonishing the world by their work; this increasing lack of mutual
appreciation is not so astonishing, if we take into consideration
Holland’s, and especially Amsterdam’s, rapid growth, making all those
people (aside from the great artists, who were sufficiently confident in
their own powers), feel small and humble in face of the firmly established
fame and merits of the classics and the Italians.  The large and fertile
School of Amsterdam painters, Rembrandt foremost among them, felt this
keenly: landscapes of Italy and allegorical and mythological subjects were
preferred to the productions of an art intensely national, the sincerity
of which failed to impress the Dutch amateurs.  Even portraiture, an art
where sincerity is so indispensable, felt the effects of the people’s
blindness, and in the last years of Rembrandt’s life we see those
portrait-painters coming to the fore, who did away with true expression of
character and joined the private burghers in their decadent predilection
for artificiality in dress and appearance.

It is not to be wondered at, that on this fertile Amsterdam soil intellect
and art blossomed splendidly in other ways also.  Music was in great
favour and could boast a celebrity: Sweelinck, the organist and composer.
Besides this there was a great literary movement; to emphasize its
importance it suffices to say that half of the literary productions of the
Netherlands in the seventeenth century were by Amsterdam writers.  The
ordinary public was rather slow in recognising their merits, and as a rule
only estimated poetry when it had an edifying and moralising tendency.  A
practical use was made of the poets, when pithy verses or inscriptions for
gables or institutions were needed and when wedding-parties, births and
deaths, necessitated the scarcely ever failing poems.  Nevertheless highly
meritorious and lasting work was produced by the popular poets, such as
Brederode and Starter, and Samuel Coster, who founded in 1617 the first
permanent theatre (de Duytsche Akademie, i.e. the Dutch Academy), the more
refined and classically educated Hooft, who, like Gerard Brandt, also
produced excellent prose, the genial and universal Vondel, the greatest of
all, and the poets of less originality like Andries Pels, Reyer Anslo (not
to be confuted with Rembrandt’s friend the clergyman Cornelis Claesz.
Anslo), Jan Vos, Jan Hz. Krul, Jeremias de Decker, passing over in silence
those of a subsequent generation.  Only the last three are known to have
been on intimate terms with Rembrandt; no traces appear in the artist’s
work of any friendly relation with the others, especially with the great
Vondel, and on this ground we may safely say that such a relation is not
very likely to have existed, because the hard-working painter had a homely
life, and all relations he had with lending men of his time generally
reflect themselves either in his pictures, drawings, or etchings.  Amoug
the latter we meet one person whom we should not omit, because he is the
representative of another class of people than we have mentioned above,
namely Jan Six, the son of a wealthy silk-dyer and textile manufacturer,
who continued his fathers business till 1652 and who, after Rembrandt’s
death, rose to important functions in the magistracy.  Excepting this
influential person, Rembrandt obviously had little intimate intercourse
with the town’s patricians or authorities, his art absorbing him so much
that even public events of note, do not appear to have claimed his
attention.  We may therefore pass in silence the historic events
coinciding with his lifetime.  Suffice it to say that those concerning
Amsterdam exclusively, were not many and that even the greatest events in
the history of the Netherlands were in those times generally accounted by
Amsterdam’s citizens as secondary to their town’s interest as the greatest
commercial centre.  Their magistrates, if they wanted to promote the
city’s particular interest, did not hesitate to oppose the Stadhouder’s
power and the will of the States General.  Their solicitude and vigilance
for their town’s welfare are quite remarkable; but that their attachment
often blinded them to their country’s more general interests, becomes
clear, if we consider that Amsterdam was more important than all the towns
of the province of Holland together and that the province of Holland alone
provided 60 per cent of the total income of the Seven Provinces forming
the Dutch Republic.  Hence, until the present time, the name of Holland is
generally used in designating the Netherlands.

Taking all in all and remembering especially what was said about the
town’s outward appearance and population, we must conclude that no place
could have been more appropriate than Amsterdam, as the abode of the
typically Dutch genius Rembrandt.  A noted Dutch writer, Van Deyssel, has
expressed this well in the following words: “Rembrandt and Amsterdam,
these belong so amazingly together!  There are northern cities, that are
like Amsterdam, but it seems to us that Amsterdam for the one who beholds
her quietly, has a unique, unequalled, deep charm.  Amsterdam is the heart
of Holland and this means that it lies in the middle of Holland as the
heart in a flower, and that it is the spot where the most delicate beauty
of Holland is found.”  No art is more akin to the city’s beauty and
embodies it better than the art of Rembrandt.

It is hard to take leave of Rembrandt and his unique abode, without
allowing the town’s immediate surroundings to fascinate us by their quite
original charm.  The excursion, which we could offer our friends through
Amsterdam’s immediate neighbourhood, in Rembrandt’s company, would,
however, give rise to so many comments, often of great local interest,
that they would far exceed the limits of this periodical.  The reader
shuuld therefore look for an account of such an excursion along the Amstel
River, past diked, across meadows, illustrated by Rembrandt’s works, in
one of the coming numbers of the Dutch art-periodical “Oud-Holland.”



FOOTNOTES


    1 Fenelon, _The Adventures of Telemachus_, Book III, where we find
      stated in a footnote that the description of the Phoenician town,
      Tyre, actually depicts Amsterdam.

    2 Described by Dr. Hofstede de Groot under numbers 656, 761, 857,
      1211, 1334, and reproduced by Lippmann—Hofstede de Groot, 1st series
      163, 3d series 23, 1st series 72, 2d series 79 and 8.

    3 The statement of a sharp-eyed contemporary, the English ambassador,
      Sir William Temple, is here of interest and applies in the first
      place to Amsterdam, then exceeding in importance all the other Dutch
      towns: “It is evident, to those who have read the most, and
      travelled the farthest, that no country can be found either in the
      present age (i.e. 1672), or upon record of any story, where so vast
      a trade has been managed, as in the narrow compass of the four
      maritime Provinces of this commonwealth (i.e. the Dutch Republic):
      nay, it is generally esteemed that they have more shipping belong to
      them, than there does to the rest of Europe.”  (_Observations on the
      United Provinces_, Chap. VI, p. 182).

    4 It is interesting to note here the following opinions of a
      contemporary, Sir William Temple: “There are some customs or
      dispositions, that seem to run generally through all these degrees
      of men among the them; as great frugality, and order, in their
      expenses.  Their common riches lie in every man’s having more than
      he spends; or, to say it more properly, in every man’s spending less
      than he has coming in, be that what it will: nor does it enter into
      men’s heads among them, that the common port or course of expence
      should equal the revenue and, when this happens, they think at least
      they have lived that year to no purpose; and the train of it
      discredits a man among them, as much as any vicious or prodigal
      extravagance does in other countries.  This enables every man to
      bear their extreme taxes, and makes them less sensible than they
      would be in other places.” (_Observations upon the United
      Provinces_, Chap. IV, p. 158.)

    5 Sir William Temple writes in 1672: “It is hardly to be imagined, how
      all the violence and sharpness, which accompanies the differences of
      religion in other countries, seems to be appeased or softened here,
      by the general freedom which all men enjoy, either by allowance or
      connivance.  No man can here complain of pressure in his conscience.
      The power of religion among them, where it is, lies in every man’s
      heart.” (_Observations_, Chap. V, p. 180.)





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