- Special Pages
London: A portrait of a man with a wry expression and an absurd hat, bequeathed to the UK National Trust as a good but anonymous and relatively low-value 17th century painting, has been identified as a self-portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn worth up to £20m — though the trust said it would never be sold.
Despite being signed by Rembrandt and dated 1635, when he was 29, the painting was thought to be a later copy, or at best the work of a
If the identification — confidently made by Ernst van de Wetering, a Dutch art historian and chair of the Rembrandt Research project — is upheld, the painting now hanging in the dining room of Sir Francis Drake’s old home, Buckland Abbey in Devon, south-west England, will be the only Rembrandt among the 13,500 paintings the trust owns or cares for.
In 2010 the trust was given the painting from the estate of the late Edna, Lady Samuel of Wych Cross, widow of a south-west property developer who was also a renowned art collector,
but it spent almost two years in store.
It was not seen as a painting of such importance that it should go on instant display, although it had an illustrious pedigree, with previous owners including some epic art collectors, the princes of Liechtenstein.
David Taylor, curator of paintings and sculpture at the National Trust, said the new identification was “incredibly exciting”, adding: “This portrait is now one of our most important works of art.”