‘False’ Rembrandt came from the artist’s studio and may be genuine | Art and design


A small painting of a tired and melancholy old man long dismissed as fake and consigned to a museum basement has been revealed as that of Rembrandt’s studio, and possibly by the man himself.The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford will exhibit this week Head of a Bearded Man (circa 1630) which was bequeathed to it in 1951 as a Rembrandt panel. In 1981, he was dismissed by the Rembrandt Research Project, the world’s leading authority on the artist who effectively has the final say on attributions.

“They saw it in the flesh and decided it was not a Rembrandt painting,” said Ashmolean curator of northern European art An Van Camp. “They said it could be an imitating painting in the style of Rembrandt and may have been done before the end of the 17th century, so not even during Rembrandt’s lifetime.

Discouraged curators have moved it to museum stores in the basement. Van Camp joined the museum in 2015 and became aware of the postcard-sized painting that “nobody wanted to talk about because it was that fake Rembrandt”.

Van Camp was quickly asked to help organize a major Young Rembrandt exhibit, which opened at the museum in February before closing in March.

Infrared comparison of the bearded man’s head. Photography: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford


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