rembrandt & saskia love in the dutch golden age

Friesland's most famous bridal couple forms the leitmotiv of the exhibition. Through the couple’s experiences visitors discover the ins and outs of a high society marriage during the seventeenth century. From the early stages of courtship, fairytale-like weddings and the founding of a family to the pitfalls of marriage such as child mortality and adultery. Marriage portraits, intimate sketches and personal objects tell the story of how love and suffering were shared in the Dutch Golden Age.

Govert Flinck, Portret van Saskia Uylenburgh, ca. 1636 Fries Museum, Leeuwarden| Bruikleen Collectie Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed

In 1634, Rembrandt van Rijn married Saskia Uylenburgh, the love of his life, in Friesland. Saske – her Frisian baptismal name – was born in Leeuwarden and grew up there. The painter met her in 1633 when Saskia was visiting her nephew Hendrick Uylenburgh in Amsterdam. Uylenburgh was Rembrandt's art dealer at the time, and perhaps it was he who saw a golden future for the couple.

Head over heels in love, the couple were engaged in June that same year, when they were in the Frisian village of Saint Annaparochie for the baptism of one of Saskia’s nieces. Rembrandt's very first drawing of Saskia is a keepsake of the day of their betrothal, as can be seen from his own text underneath her portrait. A year later they returned to St. Annaparochie for the actual wedding, which was celebrated in the stately home of sister Hiskia and brother-in-law Gerrit van Loo. Sadly, their love lasted less than ten years. In those years, they buried three of their babies; only the fourth, Titus, survived, but his mother did not see him grow up. Just shy of 30 years of age Saskia passed away in Amsterdam after a protracted illness.

rembrandt and the dutch golden age

In 2019, the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt van Rijn's death will be honoured with numerous activities in The Hague, Leiden, Leeuwarden and Amsterdam. Experience the Netherlands at the time of Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age with special exhibitions in Museum De Lakenhal, the Fries Museum, the Mauritshuis, the Rembrandt House Museum and Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

The exhibition ‘Rembrandt & Saskia: Love in the Dutch Golden Age‘ is made possible in part by Wassenbergh-Clarijs-Fontein Stichting, the Municipality of Leeuwarden, the Stichting Het Nieuwe Stads Weeshuis, Leeuwarder Ondernemersfonds, the Dutch Government (an indemnity grant has been provided by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands on behalf of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science), Stichting Dorodarte, Siebolt Foundation and the Vrienden van het Fries Museum.

The Fries Museum is co-funded by the Ir. Abe Bonnema Foundation, the Province of Friesland, the Samenwerkingsverband Noord-Nederland, EZ/Kompas, the BankGiro Lottery and Aegon.