This revelation helps us in redefining our understanding of the past and the creative genius of one of history's most celebrated painters.
In a remarkable turn of events, an unassuming painting that depicted the birth of Jesus has emerged as a monumental Rembrandt masterpiece worth a staggering $18 million. This extraordinary discovery, concealed behind the façade of another artist's creation, could potentially make its owners millionaires as it prepares for auction at the prestigious Sotheby's. While sporadic findings of unknown or lost works by the Dutch master painter Rembrandt have graced the art world over the last three decades, they have primarily taken the form of head portraits or character studies.
However, this large depiction of the Adoration of the Magi transcends the realms of his familiar subjects, offering an unprecedented glimpse into the life and work of the renowned artist. This newfound gem is believed to hail from Rembrandt's earliest professional days as a painter in Leiden, Netherlands, representing a vital chapter in his artistic journey.
Its intriguing journey to prominence began in 1985 when it was acquired and subsequently auctioned at Christie's in Amsterdam in 2021. Initially, the art experts identified it as originating from the "Rembrandt circle," presuming it to be the creation of an apprentice or a contemporary artist from the same time and place. Remarkably, despite an initial estimated value of around $15,000, the buyer acquired this mysterious masterpiece for a substantial $908,000.
Fast forward to the present, and the painting finds itself on the auction block again, this time under the distinguished banner of Sotheby's. A meticulous and intricate verification process unfolded, featuring a plethora of scientific imaging techniques. These examinations unveiled a breathtaking revelation - the painting wasn't the work of an apprentice but the handiwork of the master himself, propelling its value to an astonishing $18 million. George Gordon, the co-chairman of Old Master Paintings Worldwide at Sotheby's, emphasized the exceptional significance of this discovery while speaking to CNN.
Gordon noted, "I would say that it's particularly significant because it adds to our understanding of Rembrandt at this crucial date in his development and career when he was clearly very ambitious and developing very quickly as an artist." This revelation marks a pivotal moment in the appreciation of Rembrandt's artistic evolution.
Measuring less than 10 inches in height, this monochrome painting may be small in stature, but its historical weight is immeasurable. Intriguingly, historical research reveals that the artwork surfaced in the 18th and 19th centuries when it was attributed to Rembrandt van Rijk. It resurfaced in the 1950s when scholars still recognized it as a work by Rembrandt. It even adorned the walls of museum collections. However, it faced an inexplicable disappearance from collective memory, spurred by a German art scholar who, having only seen the painting in a black and white photograph, deemed it as a product of the "Rembrandt school" and excluded it from his critical art review catalog.
While reflecting on this extraordinary revelation, Gordon expressed, "Very few narrative paintings by Rembrandt remain in private hands, making this an opportunity for a private collector or an institution that is as rare as it is exciting." He added, "This sophisticated painting is in equal measure a product of Rembrandt's brush and his intellect. All the hallmarks of his style in the late 1620s are evident both in the visible painted surface and in the underlying layers revealed by science, showing multiple changes in the course of its creation, and casting fresh light on how he thought."
The unmasking of a $15,000 painting as a monumental $18 million Rembrandt masterpiece represents a triumph for art enthusiasts and collectors alike. It unveils a previously undiscovered facet of Rembrandt's artistry, shedding new light on his early career and artistic development.