Los Angeles: A museum here is launching an exhibition “Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India” that reveals how the 17th Century Dutch painter was inspired by artists from a dramatically different culture in a country thousands of kilometres away.
The March 13-June 24 exhibition of paintings by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn at the J. Paul Getty Museum will include 23 of his works, closely based on portraits made by artists from Mughal India.
“These drawings mark a striking diversion for this quintessentially Dutch ‘Golden Age’ artist, the only time he made a careful and extensive study of art from a dramatically different culture,” a J. Paul Getty Trust statement said.
The trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation.
“Rembrandt may be one of the most famous painters in European art history but there are still remarkable discoveries to be made about his work,” said Timothy Potts, director of museum.
“This exhibition is a case in point, demonstrating how Rembrandt turned to the art of India to produce some of his most exotic and intriguing images. This vivid example of cultural exchange reminds us how artists on different continents take inspiration from one another, a reality that of course continues to this very day.”
The exhibition pairs 20 of Rembrandt’s surviving drawings depicting Mughal emperors, princes, and courtiers with Indian paintings and drawings of similar compositions, which had been brought to Amsterdam from the Dutch trading post in Surat.
Rembrandt’s portraits reveal how his contact with Mughal art inspired him to draw in a newly refined and precise style.
“The critical eye and attentive curiosity Rembrandt turned towards Mughal portrait conventions still captivates viewers today. At this late stage in his career, around 1656-1661, this meticulous rendering is exceptional,” said Stephanie Schrader, the organiser of the exhibition.
The exhibition also examines how global trade and cultural exchange impacted artists working for Mughal emperors in India, who were in turn inspired by Dutch and Flemish printed images of European rules and scenes of daily life.
Among the treasures found in a Dutch East India ship, which sank en route to China in 1597, was a package that contained 400 prints by and after Dutch and Flemish artists.