AMSTERDAM – A painting newly attributed to Dutch Golden Age master Rembrandt van Rijn went on display Wednesday in an Amsterdam museum.
The Hermitage Amsterdam museum called it the first unknown Rembrandt to surface in 44 years.
The unsigned, undated 17th-century portrait of a young man resplendent in a black cape and white lace ruff, at the time attributed to an unknown member of Rembrandt's circle, caught the eye of Amsterdam art dealer Jan Six when an auction catalog plopped onto his gallery's doormat in 2016.
“It's that sort of blink-of-an-eye feeling that I thought 'this is better than what they think,'” he said Wednesday.
Six jumped on a plane to London to look at the painting, compared it with another Rembrandt portrait hanging in the city's National Gallery and bought it for what now looks like a modest $189,000.
Six knows a thing or two about Rembrandt – one of his wealthy ancestors was painted by the master in the 17th century – so he knew what to look for in the painting. In this case, a tiny part of the young man's ruff caught his eye.
“There's one fantastic flap of lace and there's one curved edge and it's so fantastic – it's such a depiction of space – that you really want to put your finger on it,” Six said. “And the ability to get there to that end result, in my view and in many other experts' views, only Rembrandt ever reached that level.”
After buying the work, he brought it home and then spent months analyzing it and consulting with a dozen experts who have now agreed with his view that it is a previously unknown work by Rembrandt.
Writing in a book about the discovery, renowned Rembrandt expert Ernst van de Wetering adds his voice to curators and historians who attribute to the painting to the Dutch master, saying that not only is it a Rembrandt, but it is a “very high quality” work.
The painting is on show for a month at the Hermitage Amsterdam.
Six, who plans to sell the painting, will not speculate on what it is now worth.