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Welcome / Blog Archive / English / 2018-09-doc3 The ‘bankruptcy’ of Rembrandt – interview BBC

2018-09-doc3 The ‘bankruptcy’ of Rembrandt – interview BBC

In Autumn 2017, I started my research into the financial distress of Dutch Golden Age painter Rembrandt. More specifically I am interested in the cessio bonorum proceedings, which started in 1656. See blog/2017-11-05-rembrandt.

The BBC intends to broadcast a 3 times 60 minutes programme and it was with great pleasure that I was interviewed yesterday by Tim Niel and his film crew, especally about the legal backgrounds of these proceedings. It will be on the British tele in February 2019.

In 2019 Rembrandt (1606-1669) will have died 350 years ago. Dutch museums (Rijks, Rembrandthuis, Lakenhal, Friesland Museum, as Saskia van Uylenburgh was born in that region) will make the most out of it. However, Rembrandt is ‘global’, so also te BBC pays attention to the painter/etcher.

Items discussed during the interview were:

  • (i) the will of 1642 of Rembrandt’s first wife Saskia and its influence on the insolvency estate 14 years later,
  • (ii) the legal position of little Titus, their son, after Saskia died,
  • (iii) details of the cessio bonorum proceedings themselves,
  • (iv) the composition of Rembrandt’s estate and the meaning of the famous inventory list, the treasure-trove for all art historians,
  • (v) the (conflicting?) powers of Mr Torquinius, the ‘curateur’ (insolvency administrator) and Mr Louis Crayers, the guardian of the orphan Titus,
  • (vi) the assignment of the house (now the Rembrandthuis) to Titus just 4 weeks proir to the application for cessio bonorum,
  • (vii) the causes for Rembrandt’s bad financial prosition as mentioned in the his application for cessio bonorum (losses suffered in business, damages and losses at sea, threat by his creditors to be captured) and more general Rembrandt’s commercial inflexibility.

I stayed away form the chorus of opinions about Rembrandt’s intentions, his supposed plans, the aims he had in mind for taking certain actions or an indication of Rembrandt’s feelings. We hardly know anything about Rembrandt’s private and commercial live, apart from those areas that are documented in legal forms and documents, baptism registers, notarial deeds etc. This written documentation many times reflect a discordant mood. However, can you give an interpretation of someone’s character by interpreting just these documents, just a minor reflection of his real life? There is no diary, hardly anything written by Rembrandt himself. You hardly can justifiably say nothing about the person other than that Rembrandt was a special man, indeed he was.

I will signal the date of the BBC broadcast once it is known.