The Rembrandt Document Project (RemDoc) is a joint initiative of the Radboud University Nijmegen, Museum The Rembrandt House (Het Rembrandthuis) in Amsterdam, and the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands. Its goal is to create a new digital infrastructure for accessing, analysing, and interpreting original written and printed documents related to the life and art of the world-renowned Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669).
Radboud University Nijmegen launched the Rembrandt Documents Project (RemDoc) to provide a much-needed infrastructure through which all documents that are relevant for the study of Rembrandt will be accessible in a way that is suitable for modern art history. The heart of the RemDoc infrastructure is made up of original documents from the period between 1475 to circa 1750. RemDoc does not feature later original Rembrandt documents because, following 1750, their nature changes significantly. Texts become increasingly interpretative rather than factual, and attributions of paintings in auction catalogues rapidly become less reliable.
RemDoc aims to collect and make available all known documents that relate to Rembrandt, as a person and as an artist, as well as to his ancestors and relatives. The project subscribes to a modern and inclusive definition of the term 'document'. RemDoc includes, for example, extracts from baptism, marriage, and burial records; the small number of Rembrandt’s own letters; notarial deeds such as contracts, probate inventories, debt and credit records; as well as inscriptions on drawings and etchings by Rembrandt, his patrons, and collectors. RemDoc also contains advertisements of auctions in newspapers and references to Rembrandt in contemporary poetry.
Thus far, the number of original documents identified for the RemDoc initiative includes circa 1500 items and new releases are expected. The RemDoc infrastructure has dynamic content so that newly discovered documents and new annotations can be easily added. Also, the interface is user-friendly, with many opportunities for researchers to make use of image links and database information. RemDoc is primarily intended as an infrastructure for researchers in academia and museums, yet the project's results will also be of interest to the general public.
Value of the project
RemDoc's main value is not the size of the document collection, but rather the depth to which the documents are linked and the ease with which they will be accessible. RemDoc also provides links to the large collection of writing about Rembrandt published after 1750. Last but not least, the RemDoc infrastructure provides a gateway to other databases and digital collections that contain images and physical data about Rembrandt's works of art. RemDoc is interoperable with existing and future digital research platforms for art historians.