Rembrandt: A Sense of the Soul

Over half a century ago, a fledgling art museum mounted its first major exhibition: Rembrandt and His Pupils. Near the end of his remarkable career, a towering figure in the history of American museums and scholarship, W. R. Valentiner, its first director, exerted his vision on shaping a collection, and in a short time the institution was on its way from infancy to becoming a major art museum.

We are reminded of the story of our beginning at the North Carolina Museum of Art today as we open Rembrandt in America 55 years after that first exhibition. With nearly 30 paintings by the master himself, the show assembles the largest number of authentic Rembrandt paintings from American collections ever.

I believe the genius of Rembrandt is readily apparent in this exhibition. It’s the miracle of the human being that begins to be communicated with a sense of the soul, the artistic expression of not only the body but of the soul. It’s easy for us to engage with that, and to come away with an elevated soul of our own after experiencing this stunning collection.

This exhibition represents our Museum at its finest. Our own Dennis Weller, curator of Northern European Art, co-curated the exhibition as well as co-authored the catalogue, also titled Rembrandt in America. Museums and private collectors all over the country have lent works to this important exhibition that has been years in the making.

Rembrandt in America is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you simply must not miss. I invite you to come early and return often. When you visit, take your time, study the details, and feel the awe of being in the presence of one of the greatest Old Masters—right here at the NCMA.


  1. Diane Swan
    Posted December 5, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Can’t wait!

  2. Art Novice
    Posted January 14, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Congratulation to the NCMA on its emergence as a significant contributor to culture in the Piedmont.

    For my own edification (and perhaps for others as well) could Larry Wheeler or Dennis Weller elaborate on the “sense of soul”? From the exhibit I got the sense that, in America, the Rembrandt purchases at that time were conspicuous consumption by the wealthy who later were chagrined that their prizes were not by the hand of the Master.

    I did enjoy the exhibit and read this web announcement after the fact. I am chagrined that the “ease” in discerning the artistic expression of the soul described above eluded me. I am curious.

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