Previously undiscovered Rembrandts going up for auction

Christie’s will auction off two previously undiscovered portraits by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn in London on July 6. The auction house expects the small signed and dated portraits of Jan Willemsz. Van der Pluym and his wife Jaapgen Carels to raise up to 9 million euros, NRC reports.

Jan Willemsz. van der Pluym was a wealthy plumber in Leiden with ties to the Dutch master. In 1635 – the year in which the portraits were painted – the couple bought a garden next to one belonging to Rembrandt’s mother. The couple’s son also married one of Rembrandt’s cousins, and the only child from that marriage – Karel van der Pluym – was an accomplished painter believed to have been apprenticed to Rembrandt.

The portraits were last seen in public on 18 June 1824, also at an auction at Christie’s in London. Since then, they’ve been in the possession of an unknown British family.

Christie’s asked the Rijksmuseum to examine the portraits, museum director Taco Dibbits confirmed to NRC. The museum conducted art-historical and material-technical research on the almost 20-centimeter-high paintings and endorsed the auction house’s conclusions.

Regarding materials, the rediscovered portraits correspond to the paintings from Rembrandt’s studio, Dibbits said. It could still be a pupil of Rembrandt who painted them, he said. “But on the basis of other facts, including the provenance, we support Christie’s attribution to Rembrandt.”

Nery Pettifer, head of the old masters department house at Christie’s, called the paintings “one of the most exciting discoveries” the auction house has made in recent years. The auction house estimates the portraits to sell for between 5 and 8 million pounds, or 5.7 to 9 million euros.

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