The Rembrandt Database

The Rembrandt Database is an inter-institutional research resource for information and documentation on paintings by Rembrandt – or attributed to him, either now or in the past – in museums around the world. It started in 2008 as a pilot project and is open to anyone, but focuses on academic and museum professionals and students.

The Rembrandt Database is a joint initiative of the RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History) and the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its content is provided by a range of partner institutions around the world and it is generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York. The website was officially launched on 19 September 2012. It will be improved and expanded in the years to come and maintained by the RKD as one of its permanent facilities.

Rembrandt, Portrait of a Woman, 1632, probably a member of the Van Beresteyn family, canvas, oil paint,  111,8 x 88,9 cm. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rembrandt, Portrait of a Woman, 1632, probably a member of the Van Beresteyn family, canvas, oil paint, 111,8 x 88,9 cm. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Why a Rembrandt Database?

For years Rembrandt’s paintings have been the subject of many exhibitions and publications and a specific focus of technical research, which has produced an extensive and wide-ranging body of information and documentation. This material is preserved in various museums, research institutes, archives and laboratories around the world. The documentation is generally difficult to access, still unavailable in digital form, and not yet organized as a coherent and interrelated body of material.

The Rembrandt Database is a sustainable repository of existing information and documentation that is made available in a technologically advanced way. This service does not aim to replace the study of original objects or consultation among colleagues, but rather to speed up and facilitate research.

Even though the infrastructure of The Rembrandt Database could just as well be used to carry out research on other artists and themes, such a project is particularly valuable in the case of Rembrandt, owing to the wealth of information and documentation available and the enduring scholarly interest in this subject.

Mission and scope

The Rembrandt Database aims to become the first port of call for research on Rembrandt’s paintings. For this reason The Rembrandt Database collaborates with a large number of institutions in order to add more paintings and more documentation to this website. The objective is not to present a final set of data, but to develop and grow continually, especially as more documentation becomes available through new research and collaboration with new partners. The Rembrandt Database does not intend to stand on its own but rather to interface with resources already in existence or still emerging.

The Rembrandt Database is not a research project: it does not produce documentation itself, nor does it make attributions. Instead, it presents the various – current and former – findings in this area, together with their sources, and provides a platform for the presentation of new interpretations.