Schama on Rembrandt
Last Sunday I had the pleasure of hosting a private view of “Rembrandt – The Late works” – together with the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Sweden – and with the kind permission of the trustees and Director of The National Gallery. The reason we all gathered at The National Gallery was to celebrate the inclusion in the exhibition of one work in particular: ”The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis” which is on an exceptional loan from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Sweden.
It was a wonderful evening and I was especially delighted that professor Simon Schama could join us. He gave a wonderful presentation of Rembrandt’s late works and in particular ” Claudius Civilis”, but also “Simeon in the Temple” which is one of Rembrandt’s last paintings. Many of us had seen the BBC program Schama on Rembrandt: Masterpieces of the late years, which was absolutely fantastic.
Claudius Civilis is a truly remarkable painting about the “roughness of freedom”. The painting is only a fragment of the immense original and was so daring and challenging that it was refused by the people who commissioned it in Amsterdam. The painting ended up in Sweden in the 18th century thanks to the longstanding trade relations with the Netherlands. This is the first time that Claudius Civilis is ever shown in the UK and it is the third time that the painting has left Sweden.
London is home to some of the best museums in the world and The National Gallery is one of the finest. Even among the extremely high quality exhibitions staged in London this autumn, “Rembrandt – The Late Works” stands out as one of the most remarkable. Therefore it felt very special that Claudius Civilis has been getting so much attention. We are extremely grateful to The National Gallery and the curators of this exhibition for being so helpful in every possible way, but we are equally grateful to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Sweden.