Jodenbreestraat 4
Jacob van Campen
Cultuur, Leisure

The Rembrandt House Museum

The plot on which the Rembrandt House now stands was first built on in 1606. At that time, this was a new district where many wealthy merchants settled. The building was radically redeveloped in around 1628. It was given an extra storey and a cornice façade with a pediment, which was very modern for its time. The redevelopment probably took place under the direction of Jacob van Campen, who later became famous for his design for the new town hall, now the Dam Palace.

Rembrandt bought the house in 1639, the same year in which he started work on his portrait of the company of Frans Banning Coq, better known as the Night Watch, for which he became famous. Rembrandt bought the house with a mortgage, but despite his considerable earnings at that time he was unable to keep up with payments. In 1656 he was declared bankrupt and in 1658 the house was sold at auction, after which the painter moved to Rozengracht, where he lived until his death.

In 1658 the building was split into two properties, both private dwellings. In this period, the building fell into disrepair and would probably have been demolished had it not had such a famous occupant. In 1907, the building came into the possession of the Rembrandt House Foundation, which had been set up that same year in order to preserve the building. A major restoration programme, under the direction of K.P.C. de Bazel, was planned and it was decided to remodel the house to a contemporary design without historical references. The Rembrandt House Museum was opened in 1911 by Queen Wilhelmina.

When, in 1990, the foundation was able to acquire the adjacent Saskia House, the museum was extended. It reopened in 1998 following redevelopment. The adjacent building was refurbished and given a new façade and roof, designed by Zwarts & Jansma. The new façade largely follows the classical tripartite division of the original nineteenth-century Saskia House. The entrance, library and museum shop were relocated in the new section of the museum. It was then decided that the Rembrandt House should be restored to its original state and to furnish it as a period house. The inventory of Rembrandt’s house that had been drawn up when he was declared bankrupt in 1656 served as a guideline for the refurbishment. (ARCAM/TB)