AMSTERDAM – A Rembrandt self-portrait hidden for centuries after it was painted over by another artist went on show in Amsterdam on Thursday following years of art detective work to reveal the 17th century Dutch masterpiece. The 1634 self-portrait — concealed for more than 300 years beneath a painting of a Russian aristocrat by an unknown artist — was displayed for the first time at the Rembrandt museum after years of painstaking restoration, the museum said. The portrait — showing a 28-year-old Rembrandt with long hair, moustache and a beret — was discovered by a team of art specialists led by Rembrandt expert Ernst van de Wetering who examined the mystery canvas in forensic detail in the 1990s.
Despite his wealth of talent Rembrandt was short of money. Experts believe he allowed his art students to paint over the pictures he did not sell. One or more of his pupils is believed to have painted over the recently revealed self-portrait. „Rembrandt must always have had one or more self-portraits in stock. Some of them remained unsold. These ‘wallflowers‘ were eventually recycled… by Rembrandt himself or by one of his pupils,“ the museum said.
The mystery of the hidden self-portrait took years to unravel. After forensic examination in 1994-95, including x-rays, delighted experts embarked on a careful restoration of the signed painting showing a fresh-faced young Rembrandt. „He‘s wearing a beret and he looks straight out at your face. It‘s worth a lot of money. That‘s obvious,“ a spokeswoman for the Rembrandt House Museum said. The value of the portrait was not known but his works are generally worth millions. Rembrandt painted dozens of self-portraits during a remarkable career. His most famous works also include The Night Watch and The Jewish Bride. The newly unearthed self-portrait will be on display at the Rembrandt House Museum in the Dutch capital until March 16, the museum said. Reuters