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Monday, August 17, 2009

Restoration Reveals Rembrandt

A painting, entitled Portrait of Pastor Swalmius, currently residing in Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts, was until recently thought to have been painted by a student of Rembrandt in 1631. It has recently been confirmed that the piece was created by the master himself. This revelation came after an extensive restoration project and years of speculation. A dark varnish accumulated over the years had disguised the stunning details of the painting and hidden the signature entirely. Once the painting was cleaned, it was confirmed by the Rembrandt Research Project as authentic. Interestingly, the signature and date are the same as Rembrandt’s A Polish Nobleman currently in the collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

This discovery is an interesting turn of events for Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts. The value of the piece has understandably skyrocketed from an initial value of 1 million Euros (1.4 million dollars US) to a staggering value of 20 million Euros. It also means that Antwerp’s Royal Museum is tied with the Royal Museum in Brussels for the number of Rembrandts in their collection.

The provenance of the piece is almost as interesting as the piece itself. Owned by the brother of King Louis XIV of France, the piece passed through various important European collections before being sold to Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts in 1886 for 200,000 francs. Because the varnish applied to the surface of the piece gradually darkened over time, experts were not able to determine the signature and other more subtle characteristics of the piece, officially designating it a piece from one of Rembrandt’s students in 1969. Only a donation from a private donor allowed the museum to restore the painting to its initial glory and recover its almost lost authorship.

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is fortunate enough to have a number of Rembrandt etchings in its collection. Ranging in size, they are all of religious subject matter, and each serve as a striking homage to events of the Old and New Testaments. One etching features Jesus being taken down from the cross. Arranged in a pyramid shape, the figures grapple towards the top of the cross in an effort to pull Jesus off of the cross and towards a resting place. Another is a depiction of David in prayer. Interestingly, the Biblical figure is situated in a Dutch interior, contemporizing the image and creating an interesting composition for modern viewers.

The latest discovery in Antwerp reinforces the great importance of properly maintaining and conserving a piece of art as well as encouraging collectors both public and private to get their neglected pieces properly restored. While a properly restored painting may not reveal a Rembrandt, it will definitely add to the beauty and value of your precious items. It will also help add to the longevity of the piece of art, preserving it for those who will inherit it in the future. MIR specializes in appraising artwork and, if need be, directing you toward competent professionals who can restore your paintings and antiques to their past glory.

Justin Bergquist
MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 814-8510

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    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.