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Dealer bought unsigned painting for US$189,000. Newly attributed to Rembrandt, who knows how much it’s worth

A painting newly attributed to Dutch Golden Age master Rembrandt van Rijn went on display Wednesday in an Amsterdam museum.

The Hermitage Amsterdam museum called it the first unknown Rembrandt to surface in 44 years.

Amsterdam art dealer and historian Jan Six takes a selfie Wednesday as he stands beside 'Portrait of a Young Gentleman' by Rembrandt van Rijn in The Hermitage Museum, Amsterdam.

KOEN VAN WEEL/Getty Images

The unsigned, undated 17th-century portrait of a young man resplendent in a black cape and white lace ruff, at the time attributed to an unknown member of Rembrandt’s circle, caught the eye of Amsterdam art dealer Jan Six when an auction catalogue plopped onto his gallery’s doormat in 2016.

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“It’s that sort of blink-of-an-eye feeling that I thought ‘this is better than what they think,’” he said Wednesday.

Mr. Six jumped on a plane to London to look at the painting, compared it with another Rembrandt portrait hanging in the city’s National Gallery and bought it for what now looks like a modest 140,000 pounds (US$189,000).

Mr. Six holds the Rembrandt painting; workers then put it in a frame and hung it on a wall at the Hermitage Amsterdam where it will be on show for a month.

FRANCOIS LENOIR/Reuters

Mr. Six knows a thing or two about Rembrandt — one of his wealthy ancestors was painted by the master in the 17th century — so he knew what to look for in the painting. In this case, a tiny part of the young man’s ruff caught his eye as he studied the painting in detail.

“There’s one fantastic flap of lace and there’s one curved edge and it’s so fantastic — it’s such a depiction of space — that you really want to put your finger on it,” Mr. Six said. “And the ability to get there to that end result, in my view and in many other experts’ views, only Rembrandt ever reached that level.”

After buying the work, he brought it home and then spent months analyzing it and consulting with a dozen experts who have now agreed with his view that it is a previously unknown work by Rembrandt.

Writing in a book about the discovery, renowned Rembrandt expert Ernst van de Wetering adds his voice to curators and historians who attribute to the painting to the Dutch master, saying that not only is it a Rembrandt, but it is a “very high quality” work.

The lace on the young man’s ruff initially caught the eye of Mr. Six. After buying it for a modest sum, he plans to sell the painting, but will not speculate on how much it will fetch.

FRANCOIS LENOIR/Reuters

The painting is on show for a month at the Hermitage Amsterdam starting Wednesday. Mr. Six took a selfie with his find after workers put it in a frame and hung it on a wall.

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Mr. Six, who plans to sell the painting, will not speculate on what it is now worth.


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