When Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69) signed on the dotted line to buy this large, impressive town house in the smart Breestraat area of Amsterdam , it seemed life could not get any better. It was 1639 and his work was celebrated throughout the city. He earned good money, but the purchase price of 13,000 guilders was still an enormous sum for the day and he arranged to pay it off in installments.
Rembrandt lived and worked in this house at Jodenbreestraat 4 between 1639 and 1658. His own work and that of other renowned artists hung on the walls, as he also worked as an art dealer. He used a large, airy room chosen for its unchanging light as his studio, and here produced many of his finest works, aided by assistants preparing paints and canvases. Today, the house is a museum devoted to recreating his life within its walls and celebrating his art—many of the fine etchings he created here are on display. The studio is set up as he might well have had it, as are rooms such as his bedroom and a refined anteroom where he received clients as a dealer.
Sadly, Rembrandt’s fortunes turned. His beloved wife, Saskia, died prematurely and—defeated partly by poor money management—Rembrandt slid into bankruptcy and lost the house. For the rest of his life he lived in a small rented house in the humble Rozengracht district. For the next 200 years his former grand home was occupied by a succession of families. In the early 1900s it was purchased by the City of Amsterdam and opened as a museum in 1911. Work to restore the house to its original seventeenth-century glory was not completed until the late 1990s.