The article below was published in Pinnable’s newsletter in . The exhibition Remember Me ended on 16 January 2022.

Remember Me

Renaissance Portraits at the Rijksmuseum

Throughout the 15th & 16th centuries, increasing numbers of people had themselves immortalized by the artists of the day. This autumn, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam presents Remember Me, an exhibition featuring over a hundred Renaissance portraits of powerful emperors, flamboyant aristocrats & well-to-do citizens. Highlights include Petrus Christus’ delightful portrait of a young woman (c. 1470), well-known for its impassive sitter, and Titian’s portrait of Ranuccio Farnese (c. 1542), Pope Paul III’s tweenager grandson who was destined to become Archbishop of Naples two years later, dressed here as a Knight of Malta, in a cloak too large & heavy for a boy his age, sliding off his small shoulders.

Hans Holbein the Younger: Portrait of Robert Cheseman
Portrait of Robert Cheseman (1533)

The exhibition also includes one of my favourite portraits from the Mauritshuis in The Hague, that of King Henry VIII’s chief falconer Robert Cheseman (1533), by Hans Holbein the Younger, as well as the earliest portraits of African men in the history of European art, now on display together for the first time — a drawing from 1508 by Albrecht Dürer and a painting by Jan Mostaert from around twenty years later, depicting a man who was possibly Christophle le More, a personal bodyguard to Emperor Charles V. Renaissance portraits are rare & fragile, and what makes this exhibition special is that it boasts so many blockbuster-calibre loans. Remember Me runs until 16 January 2022.

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The first time I saw an image of the 16th-century portrait of Sir Thomas Gresham by Anthonis Mor, the pendant to his portrait of Anne Fernely, I thought the painting was a photo — but when I saw it at the exhibition I realized it’s a rare case of photorealism dating from a time long before the invention of photography.