Historic number of Rembrandts on view in Toronto

Dutch masterpieces from The Bader Collection feature in AGO exhibition Rembrandt and His Peers

TORONTO On view now at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Painted Presence: Rembrandt and His Peers is a rare and remarkable assembly of 17th century Dutch paintings.  Featuring 15 intensely observed still-life paintings, detailed interiors, and mesmerizing portraits on loan from The Bader Collection at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, the exhibition is co-curated by Adam Harris Levine, AGO Associate Curator of European Art and Suzanne van de Meerendonk, Bader Curator of European Art, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University.

At the centre of the exhibition are seven works by or attributed to Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) – the most ever seen together in Toronto in a public museum. The exhibition features two of his most imposing oil on canvas portraits – the AGO’s own Portrait of a Woman with a Lap Dog (c. 1665) and Agnes’s Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo, (1658) – alongside three smaller studies of heads, and two paintings attributed to the artist, Head of a Bearded Man: Study For Saint Matthew (1657) and A Scholar by Candlelight (c.1628-1629). Considered to be among the greatest of all 17th century portraitists, Rembrandt and his peers were celebrated in their time for making paintings that seemingly captured reality. 

“Incredible records of what patrons and painters wanted seen and remembered, these exquisite paintings have much to tell us about the hopes and interests of 17th Dutch society – its fashions, its vanities, its trade and its views on aging,” says Adam Harris Levine, AGO Associate Curator of European Art. “It is so special to have so many remarkable paintings in one room and a pleasure to welcome these Bader masterpieces to Toronto. I am excited that visitors will have this opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of Dutch painting.”

“We are grateful to be able to share these very beloved paintings with Toronto’s audiences while we undergo construction for Agnes Reimagined,” says Suzanne van de Meerendonk, Bader Curator of European Art, Agnes Etherington Art Centre. “It is even more exciting to know that the works will join some of the AGO’s own favourites. Being able to compare between various works either fully accepted as done by Rembrandt, or attributed to him or other talented artists working in his vicinity will bring out the unique qualities that each work has to offer.”

As the head of a large studio in Amsterdam, Rembrandt trained numerous artists, many of whose work is so good it can be difficult to differentiate the pupil from the master. The exhibition makes clear the tricky and often subjective task of defining what, in fact, makes a Rembrandt. Variously attributed over the years to both Rembrandt and his pupil Carel Fabritius (1622-1654), the AGO’s Portrait of a Woman with a Handkerchief, c. 1644, may still someday be called a Rembrandt, but for the time being remains attributed to the Studio of Rembrandt. On the other hand, the touching Portrait of a Woman probably Hendrickje Stoffels c. 1653, once believed to be by Rembrandt, is now convincingly attributed to his student Jacobus Leveck (1634 – 1675).

Painted Presence: Rembrandt and his Peers is on view at the AGO now through February of 2026. Admission is free for all Indigenous Peoples, AGO Members and Annual Passholders. Same day tickets can be booked in person and online. For more details on how to book your tickets or to become a Member or Annual Passholder, visit ago.ca.

On Wednesday, March 20, 2024, at 7 p.m., co-curators Adam Harris Levine, AGO Associate Curator European Art and Suzanne van de Meerendonk, Bader Curator of European Art, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, present a talk in Jackman Hall entitled “What Makes a Rembrandt?” AGO Members receive a discount. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit ago.ca/events/curators-talk-what-makes-rembrandt.

Painted Presence: Rembrandt and his Peers is co-organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University.

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The Bader Collection is the strongest holding of Old Masters in any Canadian university art gallery, and the most comprehensive collection of authenticated paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn and his circle in any institution within Canada. Comprised of over 500 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper that span the fourteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries, the collection contributes fundamentally to the study and enjoyment of early modern European art in Canada and abroad.

A result of the highly discerning eye of Dr Alfred Bader (1924-2018), The Bader Collection has brought international stature and renown to Agnes’s collections.

Located in Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America, attracting approximately one million visitors annually. The AGO Collection of more than 120,000 works of art ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art to significant works by Indigenous and Canadian artists to European masterpieces. The AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, including solo exhibitions and acquisitions by diverse and underrepresented artists from around the world. The AGO is embarking on the seventh expansion it has undertaken since the museum was founded in 1900. When completed, the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery will increase exhibition space for the museum’s growing modern and contemporary collection.  With its groundbreaking Annual Pass program, the AGO is one of the most affordable and accessible attractions in the GTA. Visit ago.ca to learn more.

The AGO is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts, and generous contributions from AGO Members, donors, and private-sector partners.


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