Is there any need for a new catalog of Rembrandt’s paintings? It was the growing conviction that such is the case that led to the Rembrandt Research Project. There is, of course, a wealth of scholarly literature on the subject, but it is hard to avoid the impression that much of its interpretation of the artist and his work is based on a picture of his painted oeuvre that in the course of time has become
corrupted. By the I960s it was difficult for an impartial eye to accept all the works currently attributed to Rembrandt as being by a single artist. From the outset, those launching the initiative realized that only conscientious examination, making use of up-to-date methods of investigation whenever possible, could warrant a radical revision of the Rembrandt canon. The prospect was thus already a daunting one. The time, moreover, hardly seemed right for such an enterprise: preparations were already underway for the 300th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death, in 1969, and major publications dealing with the very same subject of his paintings had been announced in anticipation of this event. But when the first of these appeared, in 1966, it gave the final impetus needed for translating what had been vague ideas into definite plans, and for putting these plans into action.