A stunningly imagined debut novel about the turbulent world of the master painter Rembrandt and the three women who shaped his life, seen through the eyes of his last great love and muse – a lowly housemaid.
Hendrickje, a girl from a strict Calvinist family, leaves her provincial home to find work as a housemaid. She enters Rembrandt’s flourishing workshop five years after the death of the great artist’s wife, an event that continues to haunt him. It is a house full of secrets and desires, and Hendrickje soon witnesses a sexual encounter between Rembrandt and Geertje, his implacable housekeeper. She is shocked to the core by their intense carnality and yet, slowly, she is drawn to Rembrandt by the freshness with which he perceives the world and the special freedom he seems to possess.
Rembrandt is a man of dark corners, strange passions and a ruthlessness born from his need to put his art first. An involvement with him could be her ruin or her liberty.
Rembrandt’s Mirror explores the three women of Rembrandt’s life, and the towering passions of the artist, seen through the eyes of his last great love, Hendrickje.
Kim Devereux Biography
Kim Devereux is an award-winning short-film director and producer of documentaries.
She holds an MA in History of Art and English Literature from the University of Edinburgh and an MA from Bath Spa in Creative Writing.
Rembrandt’s Mirror is her first novel.
Kim Devereux on the Inspiration Behind Rembrandt’s Mirror
Rembrandt’s Mirror was inspired by works such as The Jewish Bride which depicts a couple in gold and red tones. The man has his left arm around the woman’s shoulders and his right hand rests softly on her breast, as if trying to listen to her very soul.
Upon seeing it Van Gogh exclaimed:
“I should be happy to give ten years of my life if I could go on sitting here in front of this picture for a fortnight, with only a crust of dry bread for food.”
No amount of art-historical research can answer this question, only a lived experience can. That’s why I wrote the novel, to arrive at Rembrandt’s state of mind (or my idea of it) when painting The Jewish Bride and other late works. I wanted to take the reader with me on a journey to discover what it means to be intensely free and yet to love someone with all your heart.
I had intended to write in Rembrandt’s voice but when I closed my eyes I found myself inhabiting Hendrickje. I’m prey to this kind of thing because of my acting-like approach to writing. I become the character to the point where I feel what they feel. I must admit I felt at home in Hendrickje’s mind. She is curious, uncompromising and attracted to Rembrandt – despite not wanting to be. She is drawn to the special freedom he possesses but all the time she is also in the grip of debilitating Calvinist guilt.
Rembrandt’s painting technique was another major source of inspiration. The way he handles light results in deeps shadows and he imbues his pictures with additional ambiguity by painting in a rough manner. As a result his works compel on us to fill in the blanks, to co-create them. In doing so, something is revealed of ourselves, and that is why I called the novel Rembrandt’s Mirror.