Exhibit - Legacy of Decency: Rembrandt, Jews & Danes

  • November 04, 2020
  • (PST)
  • December 31, 2020
  • (PST)
  • Elverhøj Museum of History and Art - Solvang, CA



Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) was an innovative and prolific master and is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art. He lived and worked in Amsterdam, a city renowned for its welcoming spirit towards the thousands of Jewish migrants and refugees who survived the Inquisition and had been expelled from Spain and Portugal.

The 21 prints on view highlight the artist’s nuanced relationship with Amsterdam’s Jewish citizens. They are detailed and intimate, much like Rembrandt’s relationship with his subjects, many of whom were neighbors and friends. The series of small prints present a powerful message and encourage the viewer to get up close and engage with the people depicted. 

Rembrandt’s legacy as an etcher is characterized by the new and innovative techniques he introduced to printmaking. He broke with longstanding, traditional depictions of Jews in biblical narratives. Rembrandt’s legacy of decency is displayed in his art as he added emotional and psychological depth to his subjects through expressive faces, dramatic body language, and bold use of shadow and light.

The humanity Rembrandt expressed in his artwork resonates today, nearly 400 years later. This concept is found in the unofficial Danish law—jantiloven—for "no one is better than the other." The jantiloven concept that everyone is accepted and equal plays a key part in Danish culture and mentality as was exemplified by the remarkable story of the Danish WWII resistance. During the Nazi Occupation, over 95% of the Jewish population in Denmark was rescued by their fellow countrymen. 

The founding of Solvang was based upon that deeply held Danish principle of cooperation. More than 100 years later, the close-knit community continues to thrive and support its neighbors. 

The Rembrandts are from the collection of Howard and Fran Berger, gift to Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art. The exhibition remains on display through May 24.

Elverhøj Museum of History and Art
1624 Elverhoy Way
Solvang, CA 93463

Telephone - (805) 686-1211
Email - info@elverhoj.org

Elverhøj Website

National Foundation for Danish America
PO Box 1003
Wilmette, Illinois 60091

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