Rembrandt in Dulwich

On the 350th anniversary of his death, Dulwich Picture Gallery has chosen an interesting take on Rembrandt’s work. Entitled “Rembrandt’s Light” this collection of his paintings, drawings, prints and etchings aims to put his use of light centre stage. Pools, shafts and pinpoints of light all play a part in evoking mood and emotion in these extraordinary works. Rembrandt was famous for the way light cuts through shadow and darkness to create intimacy in his portraits and drama in his landscapes.

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Denial of St Peter, 1660. © The Rijksmuseum

The show demonstrates both – not only by the choice of works, but also by getting cinematographer Peter Suschitzky to design the lighting system. Each room offers a different environment; from the kind of inky darkness so typical of Rembrandt’s work, to a well-lit recreation of his studio. The aim is create a new kind of visual experience to bring the view closer to the works.

Of course the gallery cannot hope to collect the most famous pieces, but this is a show which combines some interesting “technical” pieces with some genuine masterpieces. 

Not to be missed are “The Denial of St Peter” which is an intensely intimate painting of a small group. “ The Rest on the Flight to Egypt” is the only surviving nocturnal landscape which brilliantly captures and reflects both firelight and moonlight.

The series of portraits in the last room includes certainly one of the most celebrated – “Self Portrait in a Flat Cap”. Moving from shadow to light, this portrait brilliantly brings the viewer into the room and close up to the subject.

Rembrandt van Rijn, Self Portrait, 1642, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

This is a show which repays time spent looking closely at detail as well as marvelling at some major works. Go and see it if you can.

The exhibition runs until 2 February 2020 in Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, SE21 7AD. Open 10 – 5 Tuesday to Sunday. Admission £16.50/£8 concessions. For further information call 020 8693 5254 or go to