The expert who helped to validate that Rembrandt Laughing is indeed a portrait from the hand of Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606–1669) will speak at the Toledo Museum of Art in early March.
Professor Ernst van de Wetering of Amsterdam, the world’s leading authority on Rembrandt, will discuss the authentication process for this rare find during a free public lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3, in the Peristyle.
One of the most exciting artistic discoveries in recent years, the painting came to light in 2007. Currently on loan to the Museum from a private collection, courtesy of Hazlitt Gooden & Fox, London, Rembrandt Laughing is on display in Gallery 24 until May 1.
The small oil-on-copper self portrait was painted by Rembrandt in his native city of Leiden when he was just 21 or 22 years old. A century and a half after Rembrandt’s death, the portrait was mistakenly attributed to his older contemporary Frans Hals, and was reproduced as Hals’s work in an engraving. In the 20th century some scholars realized it was a case of mistaken identity—that the painting shown in the engraving was in fact a Rembrandt—but they couldn’t prove their case because the original was ?lost.
The painting made headlines in 2007 after the English family who owned it for nearly 100 years decided to sell it through a local auction house. The portrait was attributed to ?a follower of Rembrandt, with an estimated value of only $1,600–$2,400. Art dealers, however, recognized its quality and importance, and bidding went to more than two thousand times that amount.
Van de Wetering has devoted his life to the study of Amsterdam’s Golden Century of artists, particularly Rembrandt. He trained as an artist at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague and after completing his studies, became a teacher and artist. Invited to become an assistant to the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) in 1968, he became part of the RRP team in 1970 and succeeded chairman Josua Bruyn in 1992. The RRP has published five volumes with results of its investigation in A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings. A concluding survey of all Rembrandt’s paintings is scheduled for publication this year.
Van de Wetering lectures widely on Rembrandt, on historic studio practice as well as in the field of theory and ethics of conservation and restoration. His book Rembrandt, The Painter at Work (Amsterdam University/University of California Press, 1997) describes a variety of technical, artistic and esthetic aspects of Rembrandt’s work. His newest book, Rembrandt’s Mind, will appear later this year.
During his career Van de Wetering also was a staff member of the Central Research Laboratory for Objects of Art and Science in Amsterdam from 1969 until 1987. In addition, he taught art history at the University of Amsterdam from 1987 until 2001, and was the Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford in 2002-2003.
His lecture in Toledo is made possible through the generosity of members of the Toledo Museum of Art and supported in part through the sustainable grant program of the Ohio Arts Council.
- Toledo Museum of Art