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Old Master Paintings
12 July 2012
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie in Den Haag / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie GmbH
Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Mauritshuis, Den Haag; Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden; Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Museumslandschaft Hessen/Kassel, Kassel; Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden; National Gallery, London; Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich; Frick Collection, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Palais du Louvre, Paris; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht
Berlin's Gemäldegalerie presides over one of the most extensive collections of Rembrandt paintings in the world. Furthermore, since 1985 it has been the only museum able to apply systematically the technique of neutron-induced autoradiography (NIAR) in examining paintings, thanks to its long-standing partnership with the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin. As a result of this partnership, neutron-induced autoradiographs have been produced for the entire corpus of Rembrandt paintings held at the Gemäldegalerie. The aim of the research project is to conduct for the first time in-depth analysis on this set of unique images by comparing them with data from other forms of art-technological research, and to jointly assess the findings of both art historian and paintings conservator as to their art-historical and technical significance.
At the heart of this project lie a wealth of new findings, which go above and beyond previous research, relating to the genesis of the paintings, the development of subjects and motifs, as well as artistic and painterly technique. The precondition for these comprehensive new findings has been intense interdisciplinary exchange and close cooperation between scholars from diverse fields of study. The individual aspects to be examined in greater detail are presented in the picture gallery.
All relevant information covered in the project will subsequently be made accessible to the public as part of the online Rembrandt Database. This information will include: data from the technical analysis of the paintings, the actual scans made using scientific imaging techniques (NIAR, X-radiography, infrared reflectography and microscopic imaging techniques), the accompanying explanations for the images, their art-historical interpretations, the historical records relating to the people and institutions responsible for commissioning and collecting the works, and all other related documents that have been gathered over the years.
The Rembrandt Database
The Rembrandt Database is a continually expanding database, which will continue to evolve in the long term and, as the name suggests, form the essential base for any future Rembrandt research. The aim of the database is to provide new, online access to Rembrandt's paintings, to combine expert findings and general information and open these up to an interested public - no matter where they are in the world. At the same time, existing documentation will be digitalized, placed in context and reviewed, and thus preserved for future generations. The documentation files will contain information on works either by Rembrandt or previously attributed to Rembrandt. Numerous museums of international renown with important collections of Rembrandt works, scientific institutions and independent scholars will all be involved in developing the database. Plans foresee a detailed collation of restoration and conservationist documentation, technical data and scholarly and art-historical information on the individual paintings.
Aims and targets:
The examination of paintings by Rembrandt with particular attention paid to the neutron-induced autoradiograph images, the digitalization of visual material and important documents, the processing of all data into the Rembrandt Database.
Interim findings, publications:
We also plan to publish research findings on individual works that emerge over the course of on-going analysis in specialist periodicals and bulletins.
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie GmbH
Prof. Bernd Lindemann, director of the Gemäldegalerie
Dr. Babette Hartwieg, chief conservator at the Gemäldegalerie
Dr. Andrea Denker, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie GmbH
Rudi Ekkart, director of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie
Wietske Donkersloot, project manager of the Rembrandt Database
Dr. Katja Kleinert, curatorial research associate, Gemäldegalerie
Claudia Laurenze-Landsberg, paintings conservator and specialist in neutron-induced autoradiography at the Gemäldegalerie