Created on: March 20, 2013
A portrait donated to a charity has turned out to be worth millions of dollars. The work's artist, which had been previously unconfirmed, is likely to be verified as a bona fide Rembrandt.
The piece, a self-portrait by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn and dated1635, is worth over $30 million. It was donated a few years back to a British charity, along with several other paintings. The portrait depicts a man wearing a black velvet cape and hat; the latter decorated with ostrich feathers.
Over the decades the painter of the 17th century portrait had been in question. At times it was thought Rembrandt created the portrait, and then in 1968 it was decided by experts that one of Rembrandt's pupils had probably painted the piece using Rembrandt's stylistic preferences. However, CNN reports it is now believed by specialists the portrait is an original Rembrandt.
"Over the years, it has gone back and forward," David Taylor, the National Trust's curator of paintings and sculpture, told CNN. "Decades ago it was thought to be a Rembrandt, and then the experts said no, that it was by someone in his studio instead."
Leading Rembrandt scholar Ernst van de Wetering had conducted the tests and research to identify the mysterious piece. In order to positively identify the artwork, X-ray analysis was conducted, along with information that has been gathered over the years about Rembrandt's painting styles. More work needs to be done to ascertain the authenticity for sure.
"Over the past 45 years, we have gathered far more knowledge about Rembrandt's self-portraits and the fluctuations in his style," van de Wetering said.
For the next several months the painting will remain on display at Buckland Abbey, a national museum. After the tourist season is over experts plan to perform the additional tests to determine authenticity.
"It will undergo a full clean, and technical analysis," said Taylor. "It is painted on a beech panel, so dendrochronology [tree ring dating] will allow us to date the panel, and it will be X-rayed to check for under-drawings. The paint will be analyzed, so we can see if the pigments match those used by Rembrandt, and when it comes back to us in the new year, we should have the final confirmation."
Rembrandt would have 29 years of age at the time the portrait was painted. The painting was donated by Edna, Lady Samuel of Wych Cross.
In other Rembrandt news, a stolen painting was recently recovered by authorities in Serbia. The portrait was of Rembrandt's father and valued at $4 million. It had been missing for the past seven years.
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