Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age


The Dutch painter and printmaker Rembrandt van Rijn has been the subject of extensive scholarly research, major exhibitions and ongoing popular interest. With his virtuoso painting and etching techniques and profoundly human approach to biblical subjects and portraits, Rembrandt was famous in his lifetime and has been hugely influential to subsequent generations of artists. His colourful personal life and the vibrant Dutch "Golden Age" in which he lived also make him a fascinating subject for extended study that will appeal to Art History and History majors.

This course engages in a broad range of critical approaches to Rembrandt’s art and life and positions him within the context of seventeenth-century Dutch social, political and religious history and alongside his artistic contemporaries. The course is taught in five modules. These comprise the historical milieu in which he worked, the historical documents of his life, the artworks he produced, the issue of authorship and the critical reception of his life and work.

The monographic study in Art History requires you to learn to work with some of the fundamental tools of the discipline: developing an understanding of an artist’s oeuvre through visual and iconographical analysis, connoisseurship and the examination of historical documents. Rembrandt’s work also provides an excellent case study for issues surrounding historical methodology – conventions of chronology, authenticity and influence, and the use of biography and social history as a means of understanding an artist’s work. Rembrandt’s role as an artist was complex – characterised by innovation yet respect for tradition, by individualism yet dependence on a professional studio with apprentices and pupils. His virtuoso handling of painting, drawing and printmaking provide an opportunity for investigating a range of media in the seventeenth century.

This course includes a trip to the Auckland Art Gallery to study a range of Rembrandt’s etchings in person.

To complete this course students must enrol in ARTHIST 722 A and B, or ARTHIST 722


Coursework only

View the course syllabus

Availability 2022

Not taught in 2022


Coordinator(s) Dr Erin Griffey


ARTHIST 722A: 15 points

ARTHIST 722B: 15 points