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Symposium Rembrandt Conservation Histories

donderdag 8 november 2018 - 09:30 tot vrijdag 9 november 2018 - 17:00 | Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam
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On 8 and 9 November 2018, the Rijksmuseum will host an international symposium on the history of conservation of paintings by the Dutch 17th-century master, Rembrandt van Rijn. 

The symposium is organised on the occasion of the research and treatment of the portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit by Rembrandt van Rijn, jointly acquired by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Musée du Louvre in Paris. It will be the first in a series of conferences on the history of conservation. In the future, similar conferences will be organised on the treatment history of paintings by Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer and Jan Steen.


Important masterpieces in museum collections, such as the paintings by Rembrandt, often have the dubious honour to have undergone numerous conservation treatments in the past. Because of the significance of the paintings, these treatments are generally well documented. For instance, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp (Mauritshuis, The Hague) has undergone twenty-three documented treatments, while those of The Night Watch(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) add up to twenty-five. Rembrandt’s paintings are distributed all over the world throughout major collections. Some works have been in the same city or collection from early on. The Night Watch never left the city of Amsterdam apart from its peregrinations during World War II. Other paintings, such as the Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) travelled widely and changed ownership several times, ending up in museum collections in the United States. Every country has its own traditions, developments and approaches to conservation, with important restorers who have played a key role in the treatment and appearance of Rembrandt paintings.


The aim of this conference is to heighten awareness of how the appearance and condition of paintings by Rembrandt can (partly) be explained by their treatment history.


Invited speakers from the following museums: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Musée du Louvre, Paris; Gemäldegalerie, Berlin; Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden; Alte Pinakothek, Munich; Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Kassel; National Gallery, London; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Mauritshuis, The Hague and The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, have enthusiastically agreed to present at this symposium. Specialists in the field of conservation history will also provide an overview of the important restorers who worked on many of these masterpieces in the past. 

Key note lectures will be given by:

  • Gregor Weber (Head of Fine and Decorative Arts, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)
  • Joyce Hill Stoner (Professor of Material Culture, Program in Art Conservation, Winterthur/ University of Delaware)
  • Jørgen Wadum (Professor emeritus UvA, Director of the Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation CATS)

Call for Posters

The aim of the conference is to heighten awareness of how the appearance and condition of paintings by Rembrandt can (partly) be explained by their treatment history.

We now welcome poster contributions that address aspects relating to the conservation history of paintings by Rembrandt or other Dutch 17th-century masters. The authors are given the opportunity to present their poster in a 5 minute pitch.

Abstracts should describe original, unpublished work. They will be included in the book of abstracts that will accompany the conference. At least one author is required to register for each poster and pay the corresponding registration fee.

Please submit your abstract here.
The abstract word limit is 500 words (no images).

Important dates

Call for Posters open: 26 February 2018
Deadline submission: 30 May 2018
Authors acceptance notification: 15 June 2018
Preliminary programme online: 1 July 2018
Registration open: end of February 2018


The venue will be in the auditorium of the Rijksmuseum located at Museumstraat 1 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 

Plan your stay

Information about hotel reservation will follow soon.

Address and contact

Contact information: ConservationHistories@rijksmuseum.nl
Mail address: Hobbemastraat 22, 1071 ZC, Amsterdam
Telephone: +31 (0)20 674 7000