One of the most prolific names in art history, Rembrandt made 25 drawings based on Mughal miniatures from India during 1656 to 1661, at the height of his career. This is in spite of the fact that the Dutch artist never set foot on Indian soil.
The original artwork — depicting kings, princes and courtiers — made its way to the artist thanks to the Dutch East India Company that controlled trade in Asia. Rembrandt bought drawings and prints of these paintings in Amsterdam.
In 2019, India and the Netherlands will commemorate Rembrandt’s 350th death anniversary with a showcase that will celebrate the two countries’ culture and heritage. Titled ‘India & the Netherlands in the Age of Rembrandt’, the exhibition is the first collaboration between the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai and the Rijksmuseum - The museum of the Netherlands, Amsterdam.
Supported by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Mumbai, the art on display will feature some of Rembrandt’s original works and other miniature paintings by artists from his era.
“Rembrandt never left the Netherlands but the voyages and trading activities of the Dutch East India Company brought many treasures from Asia back to the Netherlands,” said Mr. Venu Rajamony India’s Ambassador to the Netherlands whose book India and the Netherlands - Past, Present and Future was launched last month in Amsterdam at a seminar attended by the Netherlands’s royal couple, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima .
“The personal belongings auctioned at the time of his bankruptcy included a collection of Mughal miniatures. It is believed that Rembrandt was inspired by these miniatures and created several drawings which are now scattered all over [world] with eight in the collection of the Rjiksmuseum Amsterdam. Many of these miniatures featured Shahjahan who was the ruler of Mughal India during Rembrandt’s lifetime. The fact that a master artist like Rembrandt was inspired by Indian miniatures is a great tribute to the skill and craftsmanship of our artists.”
‘India & the Netherlands in the Age of Rembrandt’ will be inaugurated today by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima who are in the country to build Indo-Dutch strategic partnerships.
‘India & the Netherlands in the Age of Rembrandt’ is on at CSMVS, Fort till December 16.