Rijksmuseum presents "Remember Me. Portraits from Dürer to Sofonisba"

2021-10-05
Maerten van Heemskerck, Self Portrait with the Colosseum, Rome, 1533, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Maerten van Heemskerck, Self Portrait with the Colosseum, Rome, 1533, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Never before have so many European Renaissance portraits been brought together in the Netherlands - portraits of powerful emperors, flamboyant aristocrats and well-to-do citizens. Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, increasing numbers of people commissioned portraits of themselves. This autumn the Remember Me exhibition at the Rijksmuseum presents more than 100 masterpieces by artists such as Memling, Dürer, Holbein, Titian and Veronese. Remember Me is about ambition, desire and loss, and about people who wanted to be remembered.
Remember Me is the first major exhibition of international Renaissance portraits in the Netherlands. One of the highlights is Portrait of a Young Girl (c. 1470) by Petrus Christus, from the collection of the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. Other portraits have been loaned by museums such as the Kunstmuseum in Basel, the National Gallery in London, Museo del Prado in Madrid and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Remember Me. Portraits from Dürer to Sofonisba runs from 1 October to 16 January 2022 in the Phillips Wing of the Rijksmuseum.


Remember Me

Since antiquity, the most important function of the portrait has been the preservation of the memory of their sitter. With the first great blossoming of portraiture in Europe during the renaissance, artists and their patrons, whether north or south of the Alps, drew on this notion. No matter how great the regional differences, the common denominator is plainly the human need to remember.

Like us, the sitters were keen to present themselves in the most favourable light possible. All aspects of the composition - the facial expression, symbolism, pose, background and clothing - are the result of meticulous planning. Where one might focus on physical beauty, another would prioritise a sense of authority. Charles V, for example, foregrounded his power in a bronze sculpture made around 1553 in which he is portrayed as a Roman Emperor, and in 1555 Maarten van Heemskerck confidently placed his own skills on display in a self-portrait. Remember Me sheds light on how the sitters of these paintings chose to present themselves, drawing on themes such as beauty, authority, ambition, love, family, knowledge and faith.

Petrus Christus, Portret van een jonge vrouw, ca. 1470. Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin
Petrus Christus, Portret van een jonge vrouw, ca. 1470. Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin

International masterpieces

This exhibition brings together loaned artworks from throughout Europe and the United States. The Northern Renaissance masterpiece Portrait of a Young Girl (c. 1470) by Petrus Christus is a highlight of the Gemäldegalerie collection, and this exhibition marks the first occasion the painting has left that museum since 1994. Turin's Museo Civico d'Arte Antica, Palazzo Madama, has loaned Antonello da Messina's 1476 painting Portrait of a Man for the exhibition. The Gisant for the Tomb of Isabella of Bourbon (made by Jan Borman the Younger and Renier van Thienen in 1475-76) from Antwerp's Cathedral of Our Lady will be reunited with the Rijksmuseum's ten pleurants, or 'weepers' (on loan from the City of Amsterdam). Albrecht Dürer's 1497 Portrait of a Young Woman with Her Hair Down has been loaned for Remember Me by the Städel Museum in Frankfurt and the several works in the exhibition from Basel's Kunstmuseum include the 1516 Double Portrait of Jakob Meyer zum Hasen and Dorothea Kannengiesser by Hans Holbein the Younger. The National Gallery of Art in Washington provided the portrait of Jan Jacobsz Snoeck painted by Jan Gossart around 1530 and Muzeum-Zamek w Łańcucie in Łańcut loaned the Rijksmuseum a self-portrait made by the Italian artist Sofonisba Anguissola in approximately 1556.

The two earliest individual portraits of African men in the history of European art are to appear together for the first time in the Rijksmuseum's Remember Me exhibition.
One of the highlights, Albrecht Dürer's unrivalled masterpiece, 1508 Portrait of an African Man from the Albertina Collection in Vienna, is the earliest known individual portrait drawing of an African person in West European art. We do not know the identity of the sitter. The drawing was probably created for Dürer's own interest and his own workshop collection. It was still in his workshop at his death in 1528.
Thirteen years later, around 1525, Jan Jansz Mostaert from Haarlem made the earliest known painted portrait of an individual African man in late medieval and Renaissance Europe. From the man's attire, sword and gloves we can fairly safely assume he was a soldier. The pilgrim's insignia on his cap identifies him as a Christian who had completed the pilgrimage to Halle, near Brussels. The sitter was possibly Christophle le More, a personal bodyguard to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
Lorenzo Lotto, Marsilio Cassotti and his Wife Faustina, 1523. Museo del Prado, Madrid
Lorenzo Lotto, Marsilio Cassotti and his Wife Faustina, 1523. Museo del Prado, Madrid

The earliest individual portraits of African men in the history of European art

The two earliest individual portraits of African men in the history of European art are to appear together for the first time in the Rijksmuseum's Remember Me exhibition.
One of the highlights, Albrecht Dürer's unrivalled masterpiece, 1508 Portrait of an African Man from the Albertina Collection in Vienna, is the earliest known individual portrait drawing of an African person in West European art. We do not know the identity of the sitter. The drawing was probably created for Dürer's own interest and his own workshop collection. It was still in his workshop at his death in 1528.
Thirteen years later, around 1525, Jan Jansz Mostaert from Haarlem made the earliest known painted portrait of an individual African man in late medieval and Renaissance Europe. From the man's attire, sword and gloves we can fairly safely assume he was a soldier. The pilgrim's insignia on his cap identifies him as a Christian who had completed the pilgrimage to Halle, near Brussels. The sitter was possibly Christophle le More, a personal bodyguard to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
Jan Jansz Mostaert, Portrait of an African Man (Christophle le More?), ca. 1525 - ca. 1530. Rijksmuseum
Jan Jansz Mostaert, Portrait of an African Man (Christophle le More?), ca. 1525 - ca. 1530. Rijksmuseum

Restoration of earliest-known Dutch citizen militia portrait

Having undergone a complete transformation through restoration treatment, the earliest known Dutch militia portrait, or schuttersstuk, is now on show in the Remember Me exhibition. In the run-up to the exhibition the large panel painting has been thoroughly restored. The starting point for the more than 18 months of restoration treatment was an examination of the work's condition and painting technique. This led to the discovery that as well as being covered in several layers of now-yellowed varnish, it was partially covered by non-original overpaint. The layers of varnish and overpaint have been removed, revealing an original cloudscape, as well as previously hidden details of faces and clothing of the arquebusiers. Additionally, it became clear that the man depicted at the upper right of the painting is holding an artist's brush, rather than a pen. The presence of the brush suggests this may be self-portrait of the painter Dirck Jacobsz.

Guided tours and special openings

• Private tours about Remember Me can be booked throughout the exhibition period. More information is available on the website.
• There will be a special sensory friendly evening opening on 11 December for viewing the Remember Me exhibition. More information will be published online soon.


Press Release

Πρόσφατες δημοσιεύσεις 

Τα νέα της εβδομάδας

"World on a Wire," organized by Rhizome's Artistic Director Michael Connor, opened at Hyundai Motorstudio Moscow. The exhibition is a collaboration between Hyundai Motor Company and Rhizome of the New Museum in New York, as part of a partnership which began earlier this year, devoted to amplifying new modes of born-digital artmaking. Founded in...

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum said, "Since re-opening in May 2021 we have welcomed visitors back to the British Museum with critically acclaimed exhibitions that have explored medieval England with Thomas Becket, Nero's ancient Rome and now Hokusai's Great Picture Book of Everything. 2021 will end with a rare glimpse into ancient...