Rembrandts eerste reis naar Friesland

in Oud Holland – Journal for Art of the Low Countries
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Abstract

On at least three occasions (in 1633, 1634 and in 1635) Rembrandt visited the village of Sint Annaparochie in Het Bildt, where Saskia Uylenburgh lived from her fourteenth to her twentieth year. Biographies of the artist discuss only the days surrounding his marriage to Saskia in the Frisian village on 22 June 1634. The present report concerns Rembrandt's very first visit to Friesland, in 1633. His last visit to Het Bildt can be dated to 12 July 1635, when Saskia served as witness at the baptism of her young niece Antje van Loo, the fourth child of her sister Hiskia Uylenburgh, who was married to Gerrit van Loo, Het Bildt's municipal secretary. Saskia was presumably also present with Rembrandt at the baptism of Hiskia's third child, Sophia, on 2 June 1633. On 8 June he drew his famous portrait of Saskia in silverpoint on parchment. In 1853, A. Wassenbergh, pastor of Sint Annaparochie, published the details on the baptisms of the Van Loo children in the church register, including the presence of Titia Uylenburgh as witness in 1633. The importance of this document has been underestimated. Titia had married François Coopal of Flushing. He turns out to have registered at Franeker's university (a veritable Uylenburgh bastion), which explains his marriage around 1628 to Saskia's sister Titia. Titia and/or her husband were also witnesses at the baptism of every one of Rembrandt and Saskia's children. The document that indirectly establishes Rem-brandt's presence in Sint Annaparochie from 2 to 8 June 1633 is important. Rembrandt carried with him a kind of sketchbook, of which three parchment leaves have survived. One of them shows his engagement portrait of Saskia. The two other sheets, drawn on both sides, feature three landscapes. The stylistic connection between these sheets and the then uncommon subject matter, the landscape, has been noted by Schatborn, Schneider and Van de Wetering. The type of farm depicted is not Dutch but more likely Frisian. The date on the portrait, 8 June 1633, is a sound benchmark for the dating of the landscapes. The second sheet was later substantially cropped to turn the studies of the heads on the back into the main depiction. The third sheet, a view of some farm's still has its original format. The back of this sheet shows a panorama with a view of a village. Until recently a matt obscured the correspondence in format with Saskia's portrait. The panoramic landscape deserves closer consideration because it must have been done in Sint Annaparochie and could therefore depict the surroundings of the village. 'Het Bildt' is depicted on a map in Schotanus' 1664 Beschryvinge ... van Frieslandt. The situation in Rembrandt's drawing corresponds closely with the plan of the area as reproduced on Schotanus' map: from left to right we see Sint Annaparochie, a copse of trees to the north of what the map calls 'Vogel', and, probably, Vrouwenparochie, with summarily indicated spire. In June of 1633, in my opinion, Rembrandt drew the surroundings of the village in which he was to marry Saskia in July of 1634.

Rembrandts eerste reis naar Friesland

in Oud Holland – Journal for Art of the Low Countries

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