Free Public Lecture
Reyer Jacobsz. van Blommendael, The Baptism of the Eunuch (detail), around 1665, oil on canvas. Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2013
“Out of the shadow and into the light: Black figures in the art of Rembrandt’s time”
All major Dutch collections have paintings representing Black figures and the Bader collection at Agnes is no exception. For a long time, Black presence in Dutch seventeenth-century art went unaccounted for and scholarship around this was thus absent in academic texts and museum exhibitions. However, research of the past thirty years has drawn increased attention to the ubiquitous presence and varying roles of Black figures in Dutch art. In this lecture, Dr Elmer Kolfin examines why Black figures recur so frequently in Dutch art, and whether and why Rembrandt’s approach differed from that of his contemporaries.
Elmer Kolfin teaches art history at the University of Amsterdam. He has published widely on Dutch art of the seventeenth century and has a special interest in images of Black figures. He recently co-curated the acclaimed exhibition Black in Rembrandt’s Time at the Rembrandt House Museum (Amsterdam 2020).