A newly discovered biblical painting by Rembrandt is to be shown in the UK for the first time as part of the largest ever exhibition exploring his early years.
The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford said on Monday it had secured the loan of Let the Little Children Come to Me, which was offered at a German auction in 2014 listed as “Netherlandish School”.
It was purchased for €1.5m by a Dutch art dealer, Jan Six, backed by an investor. Six was convinced it was genuine Rembrandt largely because the artist appeared to be there in plain sight.
The lively young man included at the top of the picture, cheekily above everyone else including Christ, is a self-portrait familiar from a number of Rembrandt’s etchings and history paintings.
Now properly attributed to Rembrandt, the painting will be shown at the Ashmolean next year as part of an exhibition examining the artist’s first decade, 1624-34.
It charts a meteoric rise and will feature 34 paintings by Rembrandt, 10 by his most important contemporaries and around 90 drawings and prints.
Christopher Brown, a former Ashmolean director and co-curator of the show, said the first 10 years were central to any understanding of Rembrandt’s career as a whole.
“In his early paintings, prints and drawings we find a young artist exploring his own style, grappling with technical difficulties and making mistakes. But his progress is remarkable and the works in this exhibition demonstrate an amazing development from year to year,” Brown said.
The show will include Rembrandt’s earliest known work, The Spectacles Seller (1624-25), which is crude, clumsy and garishly coloured and suggests an artist struggling with the medium.
How is it, the exhibition will ask, that only six years later Rembrandt produced an acknowledged masterpiece, Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem (1630)?
The Rembrandt show was announced on Monday as part of a 2020 exhibition programme that will also include a celebration of Tokyo and 400 years of Japanese art, photography and design, to coincide with the 2020 Olympics.
Published by ” The Guardian “