The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Monday, October 22, 2018

Most Acclaimed Rembrandt Portrait on Rare Display
The current keeper of the Six Collection Jan Six X (10th) who is sometimes just called "Ten", left, poses near Rembrandt's painting of his ancestor Jan Six at Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Rembrandt masterpiece of the merchant, poet and civic leader Jan Six was painted in 1654 and has been a near permanent fixture, displayed at the ancestral family home for eleven generations but is now going on public display until Nov. 29, 2010, one of the very few times it has been publicly displayed in its 350-year history. AP Photo/Arthur Max.

By: Arthur Max, Associated Press Writer

AMSTERDAM (AP).- If portraits could talk, Jan Six might have much to say about his family.

The merchant, poet and civic leader, painted by Rembrandt in 1654, has watched his descendants make money, marry into Holland's best families, engage in infidelities and sometimes quarrel over their fabulous inheritance.

For most of the past 350 years, he has hardly moved. Rarely has he left the family home. When the ancestral canal-side building was torn down in 1915 to broaden a road, he moved around the corner, where he is perched on the wall next to a tall window overlooking the Amstel River.

Now one of Rembrandt's most celebrated paintings is on public display until Nov. 29 at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum while the 58-room Six mansion undergoes renovations.

Throughout the ages in which Rembrandt's work has commanded unimaginable prices — they were expensive even in the artist's time — it is remarkable that the portrait has remained a family heirloom.

Perhaps just as remarkable is that each generation has produced a male heir to carry on the name — a tradition now at risk by the unmarried Jan Six XI, who is 32.

"We like to keep the paintings in their original setting. They are meant for private lived-in homes," says Jan Six X — sometimes called "Ten" — the current keeper of the family treasures. Most museums, he says, look like hospital rooms with nice wall hangings.

While the portrait is at home, passers-by can glimpse it through the window about 12 feet (four meters) above street level.

But a close-up view is only possible by invitation to the six-story 17th century building. As part of the 2008 deal with the government, the number of visitors has grown from a few hundred a year — mostly VIPs. But it is limited to about 5,000 because the family still lives there. Passes are available at the Rijksmuseum, and the house is open for two hours on weekdays when art students guide small groups on brief tours of the lower two floors.

The Six family has been haggling with Dutch governments for more than 100 years over access to the Netherlands' most valued private art collection, which many deem to be a national heritage.

Hounded by death duties with the passing of each generation, Jan Six VII created a foundation in 1901 to officially take ownership of the collection, thus avoiding punishing inheritance tax.

Since at least 1957, the family has been getting a state subsidy, but the current patriarch ("Ten") has gone to court several times over the level of support for the artworks and the house.

As part of the latest deal worth hundreds of thousands of euros (dollars) a year in maintenance and security costs, he has pledged to exhibit the portrait of his ancestor more often.

The 62-year-old Jan Six X — who has the hereditary title of Lord of Hillegom — made a career in advertising and later as a publisher of art books. His elder son is a former Sotheby's expert on old masters who has now opened his own consultancy.

The family fortune was founded in the textile trade by the original Jan Six's parents, Jean Six and Anna Six-Wymer. His mother was widowed young, but became a business tycoon in her own right with a monopoly on the import of indigo dye, said "Ten" in an interview in one renovated room of his home. Wymer invested her profits in Amsterdam real estate, which provided rental income to her descendants.

Rembrandt's friend Jan Six left the management of the family business to his brother while he focused on writing and buying art — beginning a collection that would be expanded over the centuries by gainful marriages.

"Portrait of Jan Six" shows Rembrandt's genius for innovation at a time when most subjects, dressed in formal black with white ruffled collars, sit stiffly for the artist, their images often surrounded by symbolic emblems like a book or a globe to describe their characteristics or interests.

The 36-year-old Jan Six has a scarlet cloak casually thrown over one shoulder, and is captured nonchalantly pulling on his gloves as if he is on his way out the door. A thick mane of russet hair spills from under his broad hat down to his shoulders and frames an inquisitive look on his tilted face.

The work combines two techniques; the incredible detail of the face and bare right hand, contrasting with the indistinct, almost impressionistic, cloak, gray tunic and chamois-gloved left hand, achieved with quick strokes of the brush.

The three-quarter-length figure has no background clutter. Nearly a third of the canvas is black, making him emerge into light at a distance where he seems ready to shake the viewer's hand. The light strikes his left side, which is why Ten places him to the right of the window, where the light of 21st century Amsterdam becomes part of the scene.

Historian Simon Schama, in his 1999 book "Rembrandt's Eyes," called it "the greatest portrait of the 17th century. ... Wherever one looks in the painting there is startling evidence of this instinctive marriage between exact calculation and liberated handling."

The portrait of Jan Six, who died in 1700, shares wall space in the mansion with images of another 235 relatives. The patriarch is placed opposite his mother, also painted by Rembrandt, in the front parlor. Among 100 other works in the collection are paintings by Frans Hals, Albert Cuyp and Paulus Potter.

There are "hundreds of stories" about the family, says the reigning descendant. Jan Six II was Amsterdam's longest serving Lord Mayor, in office 32 years before his death in 1750. The wife of Jan Six VI so feared death that she made provisions in her will for a bell cord to extend above ground from her grave so she could ring it if she woke up.

After the Germans occupied the Netherlands in 1940, Jan Six VIII secreted the collection's most important works into a concealed room at the Amstel Brewery, a company he chaired. On the theory that the best place to hide valuables is under the nose of the enemy, he opened the brewery to the Nazis as an officers' mess.

"So my grandfather collaborated — a little bit," says Ten. At the same time, he hid microphones in niches around the mess, and the waiters were all members of the resistance listening for intelligence, he said.

All the stories are recorded in the family archive and library, which occupies 285 meters (935 feet) of shelf space and which took 16 years to enter into a computerized inventory. Documents date to 1032, even before the family moved to Amsterdam and made its fortune, and include a signed and wax-sealed charter from Britain's King Charles II.

Although technically the collection no longer belongs to the family, Ten is the only member of the foundation's board with sole discretion on how the collection is maintained.

He says it's a responsibility he was trained to accept since he was 5 years old. "It takes your life," he says. "You must want to do it."


Associated Press Writer Toby Sterling contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Rijksmuseum | Rembrandt | Amsterdam | Jan Six XI |

Today's News

September 27, 2010

Hollywood Celebrates Los Angeles County Museum of Art's New Resnick Pavilion

Most Acclaimed Rembrandt Portrait on Rare Display

Seoul Auction to Offer Superlative Western & Asian Art in October

Sotheby's Photography Auction to Benefit George Eastman House

Sunday Art Fair to Be Held in London at the P3 Ambika Space

CU Art Museum Presents Inaugural Exhibition Program

MoMA Announces 8th Festival of Film Preservation

Aaron Curry's Mmnktlplkt at Michael Werner Gallery

American Pioneers of Color at Galerie Edwynn Houk Zur Stockeregg

Is Maurizio Cattelan Giving Business the Finger in Milan?

First Comprehensive Solo Exhibition in Europe for Tobias Madison Opens

Artist John Bock Defies Logic at CAC Malaga

Forced Labor: The Germans, the Forced Laborers, and the War

Kara Walker to Be Honored at Brooklyn Museum

After Renovation, Vienna Academy of Fine Arts Reopens

Shay Kun's First Solo Exhibition with Benrimon Contemporary Opens

Sotheby's 40th Anniversary Wine Sale Smashes Pre-Sale Expectations Achieving £2,412,194

Last Exhibition on which Louise Bourgeois Collaborated Opens

Bonhams Offers a Piece of the Russian Imperial Winter Palace

The University of Vermont's Fleming Museum Brings Christo to Burlington

Hauser & Wirth Opens an Exhibition of Works by Subodh Gupta

Exhibition of Works on Paper at Marianne Boesky Gallery

Cuba in Revolution at the International Center of Photography

"I Speak As I Please" New Sculpture By David Buckingham

The Terrifying and Beautiful World of Otto Dix Arrives in Montreal

Asian Art Week at Christie's London in November

Political Design in Asia and Europe on View in Stuttgart

Exhibition of Works from the Collection of the MMK Opens

New Paintings by Matt Magee at Knoedler Project Space

On Street by German Photographer Peter Linderbergh at C/O Berlin

29th Sao Paulo Biennial Opens in Brazil

Sotheby's to Hold Selling Exhibition of Impressionist and Modern Art

British Library Posts Greek Manuscripts to Web

Turkey: Gallery Attack Ignites Debate, Questions Remain

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- The Mummy poised to reclaim its title as the world's most expensive film poster

2.- Money museum showcases 1943 Cent valued at $1 million

3.- Is Robin Cunningham the Mysterious and Unknown Grafitti Artist Banksy?

4.- Freeman's autumn jewelry auction set to dazzle

5.- Phoenix Art Museum presents never-before-seen artifacts from Teotihuacan

6.- Sotheby's breaks auction record for any bottle of wine twice in one sale

7.- Buyer of shredded Banksy work goes through with deal

8.- The Frick Pittsburgh opens a major exhibition of works by Isabelle de Borchgrave

9.- Prime Minister Mark Rutte gives a history lesson in the Rijksmuseum

10.- Paris finds spot for controversial Jeff Koons tribute

Related Stories

Rijksmuseum Schiphol celebrates ten-year anniversary with an exhibition of paintings

"The Mayor" an everyday office photographed by Dana Lixenberg at the Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum is largest loaning institution to exhibition at Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna

Winter Tales: Depictions of Winter in European art from Bruegel to Beuys

The Rijksmuseum presents Johan Maurits & Frans Post: Two Dutchmen in Brazil

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Rediscovers the Work of Gabriel Metsu in Exhibition     

Rijksmuseum Exhibits Recently Acquired Masterpieces of 20th-Century Photography

Winter Mood at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol with Dutch Winters from the Rijksmuseum Collection

Rijksmuseum Anounces Two Acquisitions that Highlight the Birth of Christ

Most Acclaimed Rembrandt Portrait on Rare Display

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful