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Still Waters

'Fake' Rembrandt came from artist's workshop

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Still Waters

A tiny painting of a weary, melancholic old man long rejected as a fake and consigned to a museum basement has been revealed as one from Rembrandt’s workshop, and possibly by the man himself.

The Ashmolean museum in Oxford will this week put on display Head of a Bearded Man (c 1630) which was bequeathed to it in 1951 as a Rembrandt panel. In 1981, it was rejected by the Rembrandt Research Project, the world’s leading authority on the artist that effectively has a final say on attributions.


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The Wistman

I remember when van Wetering's Rembrandt Research Project decimated so many distinguished collections, both private and in public museums, when they rejected beloved Rembrandts as fakes back in the eighties.   Now they've had to walk back their judgments on a few of them, with greater technical analysis capabilities available these days and greater understanding of the manner of painter's workshops as they once existed.  The named minor studio assistants of Rembrandt, Rubens, da Vinci and the like have become valued in their own right, though not nearly as much as their masters.  A disattribution of an autograph work by Rembrandt, as a valuable commodity, is crushing to the collector or a museum.

Happily this one's been reattributed to Rembrandt himself.  And it is a gem to be sure.  

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