Blom’s method is persuasive: he follows the painter around Leiden’s streets and over its bridges (145 of them, he says) to recreate the world that shaped him. As a result, the book is a biography of the city too. He starts with the house in which Rembrandt was born, but which was demolished in 1927. All that was salvaged was a commemorative plaque that had been put up some 20 years earlier; this though has now been re-erected in the wrong place. It is a metaphor in its way for Blom’s technique: while he can get to within inches of his man he can never be sure to have nailed him down accurately.