19 June 2008
A Good Reason To Smile
Last year a painting was put up for Auction in London. The gallery thought it was a Rembrandt knockoff and valued it at just $3,100. Some bidders disagreed with this judgement and the price was eventually bid up to $4.5 million for the tiny 9 1/2-inch-by-6 1/2-inch portrait of 'Rembrandt Laughing'. Yesterday after months of testing, the painting was declared authentic and valued betweeen $30 - $50 million.
Clues to its authenticity included Brush stroke, contour, materials and the monogram all point to the master's hand in addition to the unique form of the signature. A Rembrandt seldom comes on the market, so this new discovery is setting the art world on its ear. It can be viewed at the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam through June 29, on loan from the anonymous buyer.
Ernst van de Wetering, head of the Rembrandt Research Project, describes it as having a "most natural quality of light you can think of". At the time of the creation or the work, the painter was only in his early 20s and just starting to be recognized as an artist. This was an experiment of working with different expressions. What initially brought its provenance into question was that it's location could not be verified prior to 1800 when an engraver attributed it to Franz Hals not recognizing the face as Rembrandt's. Only the x-rays and in depth study of both the portrait and a second painting underneath provided clues to the true artist.
For comparison to some of the master's other works, and an excellent biography on the web, check out Rembrandt Van Rijn.