National Gallery in Prague exhibition ‘Rembrandt: Portrait of a Man’ sheds light on a Dutch master

Rembrandt’s ‘A Scholar in His Study’, 1634, photo: archive of National Gallery in Prague

The nation’s galleries and museums have been obliged to close their doors to due to the coronavirus pandemic, but many continue to organise virtual exhibitions. Among the most ambitious is dedicated to one of the greatest painters of all time – Rembrandt – now at the National Gallery in Prague.

The exhibition ‘Rembrandt: Portrait of a Man’ centres on a portrait that the Dutch master created in 1634 called ‘A Scholar in His Study’, his only in the gallery’s permanent collection. It depicts a well-to-do man, momentarily distracted, while at a reading desk replete with great tomes, a globe, folios, and an inkpot, all bathed in the light and shadows Rembrandt is renowned for.

National Gallery curator Lucie Němečková will lead the virtual commented tours,  photo: archive of National Gallery

The online exhibition includes more than 110 works, including scores on loan from Czech, and international museums, National Gallery in Prague spokesperson Eva Sochorová told Czech Radio.

“We’ve prepared a virtual guided tour and are filming interactive workshops for children, which will take them directly into Rembrandt’s studio. Visitors can try out a range of drawing and graphics techniques and other activities from home.

“We’re filming engaging short videos with our curators, who reveal the mysteries behind various works. There is no admission fee and everything will be online. It’s all designed so that visitors can see the entire exhibit – up close.”

The first short video, featuring curator Lucie Němečková, was published on November 17, a national holiday in the Czech Republic commemorating the start of the Velvet Revolution, and a second was just added on Wednesday.

“I’m thrilled to welcome you to the Kinský Palace at the National Gallery in Prague. We’ll be walking through the exhibition ‘Rembrandt: Portrait of a Man’, which over the coming weeks we’ll bring as close to you as possible through these videos. We not only highlight Rembrandt’s major work but his extraordinary creativity.

“We have paintings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, and many others. The first painting we present is his portrait ‘Old Man in a Fur Cap’.”

The Rembrandt: Portrait of a Man’ videos are currently only in Czech but subtitles will soon be added and, in any case, the portraits – captured in high-definition video – speak for themselves.

In the meantime, the National Gallery in Prague continues to add to its English-language video collection, on YouTube, under the heading ‘Do you have a minute?’ featuring Czech masters such as the abstract painter František Kupka or the modernist Jan Zrzavý, and more world artists than we have time to name.

The exhibition ‘Rembrandt: Portrait of a Man’ features first-rate artworks on loan from prominent regional and international museums and galleries, such as The Moravian Gallery in Brno, The Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Olomouc, The Royal Canonry of Premonstratensians at Strahov, The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, The National Gallery London, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, and the Viennese Albertina, as well as private collectors.