Guest blog by Stefanie van Gemert
Have a look at this print from the UCL Art Museum’s collection. What do you think this man is staring at? Do you recognize any of the objects he is surrounded by? Who do you think he is?
Rembrandt van Rijn, Abraham Francen, Art Dealer, etching, EPC1709 ©UCL Art Museum
This is an etching from 1656 by the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). We can see Rembrandt’s personal friend, Abraham Francen, staring at, perhaps, another etching, mirroring the gestures and concentrated look of the contemporary art viewer. Francen was a pharmacist in 17th-century Amsterdam, who saw Rembrandt’s fame rise from close-by. Though he was not very affluent, Abraham was a keen collector of paintings, prints and curiosities. I used this print as a starting point for the community workshops I held at the UCL Art Museum over May, June and July 2012, because ‘collecting’ was a core theme in my narrative about Dutch colonial history, global encounters and 17th-century art. (more…)