Rembrandt's master piece returns to the Netherlands

On Friday, March 11, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam announced the entry of the Standard Bearer into Rembrandt's collections. The artist's symbolic masterpiece will tour Dutch museums for a year before joining the Amsterdam institution's Gallery of Honor. The Louvre missed the mark. Classified as a national treasure in 2019 by Franck Riester, then Minister of Culture , the French museum failed to raise the necessary funds to acquire the exceptional Standard Bearer (1636) by Rembrandt (1606-1669 ), estimated at 165 million euros. Thirty months later, France has given up its right of first place, giving way to another prestigious institution: the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Despite the controversy, the Netherlands bought the masterpiece with the support of the Rembrandt Association and the Rijksmuseum Fund. After a year-long tour of 12 Dutch museums, it will join the walls of the Honor Gallery of the Amsterdam museum. An iconic work by Rembrandt Considered one of the most important paintings by the master kept in a French private collection, The Standard Bearer has an exceptional pedigree. Before joining the Rothschild collection in 1844, and becoming the heirs of Élie and Liliane de Rothschild, the work notably belonged to the King of England George IV (1820-1830). In addition to its extraordinary provenance, The Standard Bearer highlights the masterful talent of Rembrandt . It represents a standard-bearer, in half-length profile, staring at the viewer with vivid chiaroscuro effects. "In the 17th century, these standard-bearers, of which we know collective or individual portraits, were responsible for symbolic functions and had to avoid letting the sign in their custody fall into enemy hands. ", explains a press release from the French Ministry of Culture. Linked to the history of the Netherlands, the standard bearers were at the forefront during the Eighty Years' War, which led to the birth of the country in 1648. They were usually painted on group portraits, more rarely individualized, although we know a few examples before this in Dutch painting, notably in Dürer, Lucas van Leyden and Goltzius. Rembrandt, The Standard Bearer, 1636, oil on canvas, 118.8 x 96.8 cm. ©️Rijksmuseum Painted by the then 30-year-old artist, The Standard Bearer would be a prelude to one of Rembrandt's most famous paintings, The Night Watch (1642), exhibited at the Rijksmuseum. This recent acquisition is the only work from his Baroque period preserved in the Dutch national collections. Of the 340 paintings made by the artist, 44 are kept in the Netherlands, including 22 in the Rijksmuseum. The Standard Bearer being one of the first paintings the artist created after settling in Amsterdam as a freelancer, it shows a new side to the work of the master of chiaroscuro. "The return of the Standard Bearer to our country has been a dream for many generations, says Taco Dibbits, general manager of the Rijksmuseum. The quality of the painting and the fact that it marks Rembrandt's artistic breakthrough make it an exceptional work by the master: that is when Rembrandt became Rembrandt! ". A controversial acquisition? Since December 2021, Netherland has announced its intention to purchase the work to enrich the national collection. However, several criticisms were made after this statement. The British media "The Guardian" recalled that The Standard Bearer was one of the paintings mentioned in 2016 in the journalistic investigation of the Panama Papers, which revealed a whole system of tax evasion practiced in the international art market. In addition, the sale of the work would have been carried out through an offshore company of the Rothschild family located in the Cook Islands, a tax haven located in the South Pacific. While some senators have denounced the opacity of this transaction, the Minister of Culture Gunay Uslu justified herself, specifying that the painting" had been legally established that the person from whom the purchase was made was the right person ". With the 15 million euros contributed by the Rembrandt Association, the 10 million euros by the Rijksmuseum Fund and the 150 million euros by the State, many people have criticized this exceptional expense while the cultural sector is still suffering from the economic crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic . Similarly, the Dutch minister defended this acquisition by explaining that this purchase was a "unique opportunity" to bring one of Rembrandt's last great masterpieces kept in private hands into a public collection. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will host the painting after its twelve-month tour through the Netherlands. © Wikimedia Commons – Voytikof A year-long tour across the country Before returning to the Rijksmuseum, his last home, The Standard Bearer will spend three weeks in a museum in each of the 12 Dutch provinces.
Seen in Connaissance des Arts - Agathe Akoun

Rembrandt's master piece returns to the Netherlands

On Friday, March 11, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam announced the entry of the Standard Bearer into Rembrandt's collections. The artist's...