Welcome / Blog Archive / English / 2021-08-doc3 Rembrandt’s Money (forthcoming) – Hendrick and Saskia Uylenburgh

2021-08-doc3 Rembrandt’s Money (forthcoming) – Hendrick and Saskia Uylenburgh

Last month, mid July, I announced my forthcoming book ‘Rembrandt’s Money’. The legal and financial life of an artist-entrepreneur in 17th century Holland. See https://bobwessels.nl/blog/2021-07-doc6-rembrandts-money-forthcoming/. In that same month I explained what the book covers and what it does not, see https://bobwessels.nl/blog/2021-07-doc10-rembrandts-money-forthcoming-wysiwyg-and-opposite/.

Business relatonship with Hendrick Uylenburgh

As indicated in another previous blog https://bobwessels.nl/blog/2021-08-doc2-rembrandts-money-forthcoming-early-years/ there have been reasons for Rembrandt to locate his business as an artist not in the Hague, but in Amsterdam. In my book I try to uncover what the most compelling reasons were to go to Amsterdam, the city-state in the making. It is unclear at what date Rembrandt started/continued as an entrepreneur (or employee of Hendrick Uylenburgh?) in Amsterdam. In literature, a date somewhere between 1630 and 1633 is mentioned. He worked and lived with Uylenburgh, who came from a rather wealthy Mennonite family and network. He had started his own business, coming from Poland to Amsterdam in 1625 where he established himself mainly as an art dealer. When Rembrandt was still living in Leiden, in the middle of 1631, he provided a loan of 1,000 guilders to Uylenburgh, which is documented in a notarial deed. However, was it actually a loan? The 1,000 guilders could, under the guise of a loan, hypothetically, also reflect other legal or financial phenomena, such as: (i) payment for the use of a location at the studio to work; (ii) a tacit partial prepayment reflecting an oral agreement (compare the use in the 21st century of a ‘side-letter’) between Rembrandt and Hendrick that the former would acquire an exclusive position in Hendrick’s studio (without other artists working there knowing about it); (iii) payment for assurance to Rembrandt that he would receive a certain number of assignments; even (iv) a payment of a fee in one go to Uylenburgh to do his utmost to arrange that Rembrandt would be given the right to live and work in the city of Amsterdam (poorterschap); or (v) a contribution (in capital) brought into a firm against Hendrick’s non-cash contribution in work and diligence (arbeid en vlijt). The latter possibility is the view of Vogelaar, who recently has made a random guess at the existence of a firm between the two, ‘… a kind of art company in a modern way, with Uylenburgh running the business and garnering commissions, while Rembrandt produced paintings. On 20 June 1631, Rembrandt himself invested no less than 1,000 guilders in the company and, a little later, set up a workshop at Uylenburgh’s home…’, see Vogelaar, in: Brown, Christopher, An Van Camp and Christiaan Vogelaar, Jonge Rembrandt, Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden 2019 / Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 2020, 27.

As an addition, Amsterdam was a competative market, see https://www.codart.nl/guide/agenda/rembrandt-in-amsterdam-creativity-and-competition/

Rembrandt and Saskia van Uylenburgh

The years 1632 to 1634 were Rembrandt’s most productive period with regard to paintings. During this period he met Saskia Uylenburgh, a cousin of Hendrick Uylenburgh. She is described as being the offspring of an academically educated, prominent family. Her father was mayor of Leeuwarden (Friesland) and counsellor of the Court of Friesland. Rembrandt noted in a caption on a drawing that they married on 8 June 1633 when Saskia was twenty-one years old (she was baptised in August 1612, so this month 390 year ago). Because in these days different calendars applied in Holland and Friesland and other documents indicate that Rembrandt and Saskia married in 1634, it is difficult to reconcile her date of birth with the age noted by Rembrandt, so this drawing has caused much confusion. The uncertainty becomes even greater because different rules applied in Friesland compared to Holland concerning a marriage announcement and actually entering into marriage. In all, in my book I try to discover under which laws (Frisian; Holland) they married. The fact that a formal announcement of the marriage was made in Amsterdam could have something to do with the fact that the Frisian marriage would not be recognized in Holland or that the associated matrimonial property consequences would not be recognized. Certainly, food for lovers of the history of private international law (conflicts of law).

Passing away Ernst van de Wetering

It was with sadness that I learned of the death of the influential Dutch art historian Ernst van de Wetering (1938-2021) just two weeks ago. I never met him live, but he has been an inspired author of many publications I’ve read over the years. My expression of sympathy to his near friends and loved ones. See https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/obituary-ernst-van-de-wetering-rembrandt-scholar.

Runway to publication

Up to its publication I will regularly blog some background of the book’s themes and details of its content. I hope to be able to connect such information with actual developments in literature or shared via (virtual) meetings. Just let me explain to you that as main audience for readership I see legal and financial professionals, especially with an appetite for the developments in civil, commercial and insolvency law in 17th century Holland. When details of the publication date will be known, I will inform you via this blog. And, by the way, if you are interested to get notified every time a blog appears, please follow Rembrandt’s Money on social media.

Information as to today:

Bob Wessels, ‘Rembrandt’s Money’. The legal and financial life of an artist-entrepreneur in 17th century Holland

Deventer: Wolters Kluwer. ISBN 9789013164893 (forthcoming Autumn 2021)