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Netherlands, 1977 (MIFF 1979)

Director: Jos Stelling

1669, the year in which Rembrandt painted his last self-portraits, and in which he died, is the starting point of this dramatised account of some aspects of the great Dutch master's life.

We trace Rembrandt's quick rise to fame; his painting of 'Doctor Nicolaes Tulp Demonstrating the Anatomy of the Arm' (1632); his marriage to the wealthy Saskia in 1634, and the death of his first three children. Rembrandt, a bad manager of money, spends his considerable income on paintings and objets d'art, and soon gets into difficulties, which culminate, when he buys a house without having sufficient money to pay for it, in a crushing debt.

In 1642, a year after the birth of their only surviving child, Titus, Saskia dies, leaving Rembrandt all her belongings until such time that he should re-marry. He paints The Nightwatch'. Still his debts accumulate. Hendrickje Stoffels, his latest housekeeper and nurse to Titus, becomes his mistress, and soon gives birth to their daughter, Cornelia. Rembrandt refuses to marry Hendrickje, but recognises the child as his — much to the dismay of the Calvinist Church.

In 1656, Rembrandt is declared bankrupt; all his possessions are auctioned, and he now works for an art business set up by Hendrickje and Titus. He is working on his late masterpiece, 'The Board of the Clothmakers' Guild at Amsterdam', when Hendrickje dies. Titus marries, and Rembrandt lives alone with Cornelia. When Titus also dies, Rembrandt, shattered and quite alone, paints his last self-portraits — resigned and with perfect objectivity.

Grand Prix, d'Asolo.

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