An installation of six seventeenth-century Dutch portraits and genre scenes, including two paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn, went on view today in the Brooklyn Museum
s European paintings gallery in the Beaux-Arts Court. The six paintings are on long-term loan from a private New York collection.
The Rembrandts, Self-Portrait with Shaded Eyes (1634) and Portrait of Anthonie Coopal (1635), were both painted in Amsterdam when the artist was in his late twenties. Self-Portrait with Shaded Eyes was hidden for centuries under another portrait. According to Dr. Ernst van de Wetering, chairman of the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP), the overpaintings were so old one had to entertain the possibility that they had been done in Rembrandts own workshop. The RRP brought in experts to conduct tests on the portraits paint surface and assess whether there might be another composition underneath. Six years and several paint layers later, this long-unknown masterpiece was revealed in 2002.
Portrait of Anthonie Coopal was commissioned by Rembrandts new brother-in-law. The artist captured the personality of the ambitious Coopal in the prime of his youth. (A future magistrate and secret agent, Coopal would become one of the most well-connected men in Rembrandts Amsterdam circle.) Rembrandt painted his sitter in mid-speech, sporting a broad-brimmed black hat atop long brown locks that cascade onto a fashionable white lace collar.
Also included in the installation is Portrait of a Family on a Terrace (1670), an early painting by Michiel van Musscher that has never before been on public view; Portrait of Rembrandt in Oriental Costume (1631), by the masters early pupil Isaac de Jouderville; Self-Portrait, Behind a Parapet (1648), by another Rembrandt pupil, Ferdinand Bol; and A Young Man Blowing a Torch to Light a Candle (circa 169296), by Godfried Schalcken and workshop.
This presentation has been organized by Richard Aste, Curator of European Painting at the Brooklyn Museum.
The Brooklyn Museum acquired its first Dutch artwork, an etching by Rembrandt, in 1919. The collection has since grown to 250 Dutch paintings and works on paper, including several Rembrandt etchings; an early canvas by Frans Hals, Portrait of a Gentleman (1615); the earliest surviving self-portrait by Gerrit Dou (circa 1631); Meindert Hobbemas Hamlet in the Wood (circa 1660); Vincent van Goghs pen-and-ink drawing
of cypress trees (1889); and Kees van Dongens large, full-length Portrait of W. S. Davenport (circa 1925).
The Brooklyn Museums history of exhibiting Dutch art dates back to the early twentieth century, when it presented Modern Dutch Prints (1925), Rembrandt Etchings from the Museum Collection (1935), and Paintings by Vincent van Gogh (1944).