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As one of the greatest artists not only in Dutch history but throughout the world, Rembrandt van Rijn is still making headlines 352 years after his death. A new artwork by the Dutch master has been discovered.
Yep, you read that right. Known famously for the iconic large scale of De Nachtwacht (The Night Watch) (1642), which truly is awe-inspiring to stand in front of, Rembrandt’s ground-breaking work is still being discovered and celebrated three centuries after its creation.
In a stroke of luck, a new Rembrandt painting was revealed to the world after (ironically and unluckily) falling off a wall in Italy. The artwork, which fell to the ground, damaged its frame in the fall and a repair was needed: Antonella di Francesco was tasked with the mending.
The work, an Adoration of the Magi, was presented at the French Academy in Rome by an Italian Cultural Foundation head and belonged to a noble family. Works such as this were seen as household ornaments during the 19th century, meaning their value and origin were often lost. This is a possible reason why the owners of the undiscovered work had no idea who the genius was behind their possession.
Luckily for the world, the restorer Antonella di Francesco became aware of the artwork’s potential upon beginning the restoration. Rembrandt revealed himself to di Francesco, who says it was like she was under the Dutch master’s spell riding a “thrill that has no equal.”
The work is oil on paper applied to canvas. It is thought to have been prepared around 1633 as a series of engravings centred on the Life and Passion of Christ.
This find is so astounding not only because of the location in which it was discovered but also because it is such a challenge for critics to identify works of the Dutch Baroque master.
Rembrandt held critics in very low regard — and was buried as a poor man in an unknown grave in the Westerkerk as a result. He would often engrave his name on the pieces by his students to increase the painting’s value. Sometimes, he would even finish their work before signing it as his own, making this positive identification all the more astounding.