For Rembrandt addicts, 4 October is a prominent date. In the Register of Deaths of the Westerkerk it is recorded: ‘On 4 October 1669 [my] cousin, Rembrant van Rhijn, painter died (‘den 4 8b[er] is overleeden neeff Rembrant van Rhijn schilder’). The date of his passing away is given in a note by a relative of Rembrandt, Nicolaes Sebastiaensz Vinck. He was a distant relative of Rembrandt on his mother’s side. Rembrandt’s funeral took place four days later, on 8 October 1669. The Chamber of Orphans’ Register of Death provides ‘Rembrant van Reyn painter Rose gracht 8 October – – -2 [children]’ (‘Rembrant van Reyn schilder Rose gracht 8 8ber – – -2 [kinderen]’). These two children were Cornelia, his unlawful daughter with Hendrickje Stoffels, and his grandchild Titia, the daughter of his deceased son, Titus and his wife Magdalena van Loo. The cause of Rembrandt’s death, 63 years at the time, is unknown. See https://bobwessels.nl/blog/2019-10-doc2-r-i-p-rembrandt-4-october-1669/.
In my forthcoming book (see below), details are presented on Rembrandt’s rather sober funeral and certain data regarding his inheritance. In less than two years, Rembrandt’s son and 14 days after Rembrandt’s death his daughter in law Magdalena had died. Just Rembrandt’s illegitimate daughter Cornelia and his granddaughter Titia remained with certain rights (alleged property rights of Cornelia; Titia as heir to Rembrandt). In a short period, a number of successive inheritances had to be dealt with that included (alleged) property, which remained undivided. Moreover, there were objections to what had to be listed in the Rembrandt’s inventory and which of the two guardians (of Cornelia and Titia respectively) was entitled to guard what goods. All in all, for the latest generation of Dutch notarial law students, a minefield of issues and a challenging case – but a hard nut to crack at the same time.
This weekend and Monday 4 October, Rembrandt’s place of birth in 1606, Leiden, is celebrating its Relief. On these days in Leiden, large celebrations are ongoing for Leidens Ontzet (the Relief of Leiden), the defeat of the Spanish rulers in 1574. Everyone in Leiden still enjoys vehemently the Leiden victory, eat hutspot (hodge-podge, sort of carrot and onion stew), herring and white bread, with a drink or 2 or 3 (!) and sing during the Reveille. The festivities are serious indeed, with the Townhall and Leiden University and its library being closed. Will someone remember, the death of its most famous kid, 352 years ago?
Rembrandt’s Leiden period, including family, school, university, learning to paint, and later, starting his own studio and continuing it for 5 or 6 years, before going to Amsterdam, is a significant part in my book. Particularly interesting I always found the mill, so dominant in everyone’s perception of Rembrandt’s youth, experienced a turbulent history. His ancestors had been millers since the late 16th century. His grandmother had been quite entrepreneurial soon after the relief of Leiden in 1574 by replacing the mills that had been taken down. She had another mill built and sold and then transferred half of it. Another mill was also purchased, by collecting and transporting it from some ten kilometres outside Leiden. By further subdividing the mill into quarters, half of the mill ended up as property in his mother’s inheritance in 1640. Rembrandt’s part was around 2500 guilders. Why did not he use the money to further pay the remaining purchase price for his house? See https://bobwessels.nl/blog/2021-09-doc1-the-purchaseprice-in-1639-for-rembrandts-house/.
The mill itself left the Van Rijn family in 1653 and after being demolished and rebuilt in stone in the 1730s, it disappeared completely in 1864.
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 November 2021)