James Madison University is partnering with Eastern Mennonite University to present an exhibition of Rembrandt van Rijn’s etchings and Dutch 17th-century rare books.
Although Rembrandt did not officially belong to the Mennonite Church, he had close family connections and many patrons among Mennonites, who made up 20 percent of the population in Amsterdam during his lifetime. Rembrandt’s unusual interpretations of some Biblical themes were influenced by the Mennonite and Dutch Calvinist religions.
The exhibit highlights a portrait of Rembrandt’s first wife Saskia from the Madison Art Collection, which is on view for the first time. The painting is based on another portrait now in Dresden, Germany. Replicas of Rembrandt’s portraits are numerous, as his students painted copies as part of their artistic training and later followers continued the practice. The Madison portrait likely traveled from Germany, through Romania and New York City, to reach Harrisonburg.
This exhibit marks the first time JMU’s James and Gladys Kemp Lisanby Museum has received loans from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Loans include etchings of the Mennonite preacher Cornelis Claez Anslo, self-portraits, views of Amsterdam, studies of the human figure, as well as a reprint of “Christ Healing the Sick,” nicknamed “The Hundred Guilder Print.”
The Dutch 17th-century rare books from Eastern Mennonite University include “Descriptions of Amsterdam” published by Caspar Commelin in 1693, as well as the renowned “Martyrs’ Mirror” by T. Van Braght. Several books have engravings by the Mennonite painter and poet Jan Luiken.
The exhibit is free and open to the public and runs from January 15 through February 28 (Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with special Sunday hours on January 26 and February 23). Metered parking is available in lot C12. The exhibit features a “Kids Zone” with fun, educational materials and interactive iBooks in the gallery. For more information, visit sites.jmu.edu/rembrandt.
Courtesy JMU College of Visual and Performing Arts