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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back June-July-August 2016

Unknown Portrait, oil on canvas (partially cleaned)

Unknown Portrait, oil on canvas (partially cleaned)

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
Finlay Fine Art
finlayfineart.com

Chapter 52. The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

My client told me that he had inherited the painting on the left from a recently deceased German relative and that he remembers seeing the painting as a child. Au verso of the painting in cursive script are the words “Rembrandt Orig. 1631” and the remains of a label. He did not know anything else about it and wished to have it appraised for fair market value.

As most art historians will tell you, historic paintings often take on a life of their own. They exist over time, are hesitant about revealing their true age, have distinct personalities, are nomadic, and sometimes deliberately mask their origins and the nature of their true character and identity.

This perception I think could be applied to the two paintings; one perhaps has a more respectable art historical pedigree than the other but both are essentially the same image of an old man wearing a cap.

The painting on the right, formerly known as Rembrandt’s Father or Rembrandt’s Brother, was acquired from the E. Habich Kassel Collection in 1891 by the Gemäldegalerie, Kassel, Germany. It was previously consigned to auction from the Freiherr von Friesen Collection and sold at the March 26–27, 1885 Heberle Keulen (Moore’s Art Gallery) auction to Edward Habich of Kassel. It is dated after 1630, thought to have been painted by Rembrandt and was listed and illustrated as Rembrandt’s Father (Br 78) on page 70 of Rembrandt Paintings by A. Bredius and H. Gerson (1971). In 1986 the painting was reassessed and attributed to a contemporary of Rembrandt’s named Jan Lievens (1607–1674).

Attributed to Jan Lievens, Bust of a Man with a Cap, oil on oak panel

Attributed to Jan Lievens, Bust of a Man with a Cap, oil on oak panel

My client’s painting exhibits some quite obvious similarities to the one attributed to Jan Lievens, and one wonders why it has not been subjected to traditional art historical inquiry to establish its origin and authenticity. The image appears to be stylistically consistent with other paintings by both Lievens and Rembrandt; however, its mysterious origin and lack of provenance tends to suggest perhaps an obstinately uncooperative personality intent on deception by its author.

Lievens collaborated and shared a studio with Rembrandt from 1626 until 1631 when they parted ways and their competitive collaboration was intimate enough to cause difficulties in the attribution of works from this period.

The painting attributed to Jan Lievens appears to demonstrate all the attributes required to establish permanent and prolonged art historical residency. It has a traceable pedigree, is recognized by society as a cultural artefact and is imbued with respectability and civility. The unknown painting, however, is of dubious origin, undocumented and, perhaps, at some future point, will take its rightfully deserved place in the history of art.

Next: The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

 Sat, Nov 19, 2016