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Le portrait d’un jeune homme de Rembrandt

Jan Six

It is quite amazing to be Dutch, to be an art historian, and to unearth an authentic portrait by Rembrandt in an auction when the said painting was mistakenly written into the catalogue as being from “the school of Rembrandt”. But when your name is Jan Six, that you come from a famous family in Amsterdam, and that you discover that the model for the painting by Rembrandt has exactly your name, and that he is your ancestor: now that is more than a fairy tale! That is what the hero of this story tells us of his amazing discovery in 2016, confirmed in 2018 by Ernst van de Wetering, the number one specialist of the great painter and director of the Rembrandt Research Project for the last forty years. The investigation is described in detail, from the format and the origin of the canvas, the pigments used, the provenance, the analysis of the scenery to the clothing – goat gloves, French lace collar, batiste cuffs with frills – and holds some surprising discoveries. This vertical man’s portrait was part of a larger, horizontal composition that included a woman! Rembrandt has accustomed us to the fact that his paintings were often cut and cropped. Even his famous Night Watch which misses a piece. All these steps were necessary to reach the conclusion many will continue to contest but no one will be able to equal: it is a Rembrandt, and it bears his signature.

Le portrait d’un jeune homme de Rembrandt, by Jan Six, Payot, 160 p., €20.

Le portrait d’un jeune homme de Rembrandt - Jan Six

Review published in the newsletter #526 - from 20 September 2018 to 26 September 2018

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