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National Treasures: Rembrandt in Brighton

National Treasures: Rembrandt in Brighton

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

10 May – 4 August 2024

One Old Master, 14 young people, 15 self-portraits

A timeless masterpiece by artist Rembrandt will be unveiled for the first time ever in Brighton as part of a nationwide celebration of the 200th birthday of the National Gallery in London.

Self Portrait at the Age of 34, 1640 was painted by Rembrandt nearly 400 years ago and is considered one of his most beautiful and fascinating works of art.

Inspired by the painting, a group of young people have produced self-portraits in a collaboration with Brighton Museum and national arts charity Photoworks which will be displayed alongside the Rembrandt.

CEO for Brighton & Hove Museums Hedley Swain said: “We are so excited to be able to display this wonderful masterpiece in Brighton Museum & Art Gallery for the first time ever. Rembrandt is one of the greatest artists in history and it is a privilege to be able to share it with everyone.

“Even better is that the painting has inspired young people to create their own artworks which will be displayed alongside the Rembrandt – an experience they will never forget.”

Rembrandt’s Self Portrait’s appearance in Brighton is part of National Treasures, twelve exhibitions opening on 10 May 2024, the day the National Gallery turns 200 years old. More than half the UK population will be within an hour’s journey of a National Gallery masterpiece.

Rembrandt’s trompe l’oeil

Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606 – 1669) was a Dutch, Golden Age painter, printmaker and draughtsman. In the striking self-portrait, the artist presents himself in a confident pose, dressed in expensive-looking fur, velvet and jewels but all is not what it seems.

His sophisticated clientele would have noted that the painting style, colours and ‘trompe ‘l’oeil’ pose echo those in the earlier Renaissance paintings by artists such as Titian and Raphael.

Rembrandt’s contemporaries would have known that his impressive costume is very old-fashioned. He is portraying himself as a Renaissance gentleman, dressed in the fashions from over a century earlier to pay homage and compare himself to the most famous artists of that earlier time.

Rembrandt was projecting an image of himself as he would like to be perceived and claiming a much higher social status than artists had at that time.

Time travel and celebrity

Like Rembrandt, the Photography Club participants who have produced the work shown alongside this self-portrait have also explored the themes of time travel, celebrity and self-projection.

In this collaboration between Brighton & Hove Museums and Photoworks, a small group of young people have taken the Rembrandt self-portrait as the starting point.

Under the guidance of photographic artist Alejandra Carles-Tolra, the group have explored visual culture from the past to the modern age. They were challenged to express how they would like to be seen by their peers, when, like Rembrandt, they reach the age of 34.

The resulting images create an exciting dialogue between a long-dead old master and vibrant, young future talent. This innovative body of work compliments the Rembrandt painting and subverts and challenges the traditional conventions of self-portraiture. These new images examine visual culture and self-projection in not only the past and present, but also in a speculative future.

Photoworks Learning & Engagement Consultant Juliette Buss said: “We’re thrilled to have been able to collaborate with the museum and the National Gallery to create this opportunity for young people to work with an award-winning photographer and exhibit alongside Rembrandt. Their artworks create a powerful dialogue between past and present notions of representation.”

In addition to the exhibition, Brighton & Hove Museums is hosting a series of talks on the Old Master. The ‘Talking Rembrandt’ series features speakers including Dr David Bomford, Bart Cornelis and Brighton & Hove Museum’s very own Alexandra Loske. The talks which take place on 29 May, 12 June and 26 June at 11am in the Old Courthouse will explore a range of subjects from self-portrait secrets to artist palettes.

– ENDS –

NG672 Rembrandt, 1606 – 1669 Self Portrait at the Age of 34, 1640 © The National Gallery, London
NG672 Rembrandt, 1606 – 1669 Self Portrait at the Age of 34, 1640 © The National Gallery, London

Editors Notes

In celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the National Gallery, Brighton & Hove Museums would like to invite you to an exclusive private view of the exhibition National Treasures, Rembrandt in Brighton on the 9 May, 6-8pm, at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.
Please RSVP to by 03/05.

Contact information for press and media.

For further information or interviews please contact or call 01273 071296.
We can organise press views to the exhibition from 9 May on request.


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About Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, part of Brighton & Hove Museums, is one of Britain’s oldest public museums. Located in the Royal Pavilion Estate at the heart of the city’s cultural quarter, the collections showcase arts and crafts from across the world and history from Ancient Egypt to modern Brighton.
Admission fee payable
Royal Pavilion Garden, Brighton BN1 1FN Tel 03000 290900
Open Tue-Sun 10am-5pm, Closed Mon (except Bank Holidays 10am-5pm)

The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Bellini, Cezanne, Degas, Leonardo, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velázquez. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. Admission free. More at

On 10 May 2024 the National Gallery will be 200 years old, and we will start our Bicentenary celebration, a year-long festival of art, creativity and imagination, marking two centuries of bringing people and paintings together.

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About Photoworks

Photoworks champions photography for everyone. An international platform, global in reach, Photoworks has been providing opportunities for artists and audiences since 1995. The programme, which includes Photoworks Festival and the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards brings new experiences to audiences and opens new ways to encounter photography.

Photoworks is a registered charity and the only organisation with a national remit for photography in England.


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