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Ballet Among Paintings: Rembrandt and Saskia


Videoart created by The Czech National Ballet and National Gallery Prague

Ballet Among Paintings: Rembrandt and Saskia
Videoart Baletu Národního divadla a Národní galerie Praha

The feted love between Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Saskia van Uylenburgh has been brought back to life. Within a remarkable joint project, the National Gallery Prague and The Czech National Ballet have prepared a special visual treat, inspired by the celebrated Dutch master’s paintings and life. It is linked to the ongoing Rembrandt: A Portrait of a Man exhibition.

Two Czech National Ballet soloists, Evgeniya Gonzalez and Fraser Roach, give a visual rendition of the relationship between Rembrandt and Saskia, his beloved wife. Directly drawing inspiration from the paintings on display, the dance is thus a dialogue between live ballet art and Rembrandt’s genius. The love duet was recorded in the exhibition rooms. Besides Saskia’s portrait, the visual work foregrounds the picture A Scholar in His Study, the one and only Rembrandt piece maintained in the Czech Republic. The video was directed by Italy’s Marco Chiodi, who has collaborated with the Czech National Ballet over the long term.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn met Saskia van Uylenburgh in 1633, most likely when visiting his relatives in Amsterdam. That very year, the young lovers got engaged; and in 1634 they married. With great love and tenderness, Rembrandt immortalised his beloved  wife and Muse in several drawings and paintings. He also lent Saskia’s face to allegorical figures and heroines in many pictures. The period of happiness, which culminated in 1641 with the birth of Rembrandt and Saskia’s son Titus, the one and only of their four children to live into adulthood, was followed by bittersweet years of ups and downs. Rembrandt’s beloved wife died less than a year after Titus’s birth, thus their happy marriage did not even last a decade,” says Lucie Němečková, the exhibition’s curator.

“I was asked by Filip Barankiewicz to make up a concept and choreography for this project with I am extremely grateful for. My choreography is mostly inspired by Rembrandt’s life, his love for his wife and his deterioration after her death. I think we can all relate to love and loss and I really wanted to present that as the main focus.” the choreographer and dancer Fraser Roach explains.

The video premiered on the evening of 1 January 2021 on social networks and the YouTube channels of the National Gallery Prague and the Czech National Ballet, which have thus responded to the closure of cultural institutions, seeking ways of communicating and granting art to people.

Ballet Among Paintings: Rembrandt and Saskia
Choreography: Fraser Roach
Saskia: Evgeniya Gonzalez
Rembrandt: Fraser Roach
Music: Benjamin Gregory
Costumes: Roman Šolc, Cécile Barankiewicz, Katarzyna Kozielska
Direction, video: Marco Chiodi
Online premiere: 1 January 2021

photo: Serghei Gherciu

Photo and video gallery