Rembrandt At Buckland Abbey Confirmed To Be Real


I recently took a holiday to Buckland Abbey for one reason, and one reason only – to see the newly affirmed Rembrandt. That’s right, a new Rembrandt has been found, and it is, truly, a self-portrait of the renowned artist. The video at the Abbey is interesting as well as informative, and when combined with further research, creates a fascinating story.


Rembrandt, born in 1606, painted hundreds of scenes throughout his life, capturing moments in the daily lives of the people around him, historic events, and religious events. Just as with Raphael and Michelangelo, Rembrandt became known by one name, accomplishing a goal of his. He became known for his mastery of the contrasts between darkness and light. He has become known as the most important Dutch artist in Holland’s history.

Religion, in particular, shaped a great deal of Rembrandt’s work. His work reflects a serious Christian belief. As a student, his skills in painting earned him an apprenticeship with a well-known history painter in Amsterdam. As he grew up, he trained several other Dutch artists who became famous in their own right.

The painting that has rocked the art world most recently is the self-portrait of the artist wearing a feathered cap. Dated 1965, 4 years before his death, this painting was traditionally regarded as authentic. That is, until 1968.

In 1968, the authenticity of the painting was challenged by a well-known art historian. He said that there were parts of the painting that lacked the detail characteristic of Rembrandt’s work. This set off a firestorm of controversy.

847310583_397a29fb4c_bHowever, the use of x-rays and historical data have confirmed that this truly is a self-portrait by the famous artist. During this time period, Rembrandt was experimenting with the play of light and darkness on the eyes of his models. In this painting, the shadow from his beret, along with the light illuminating his cheek, nose, and lower eyelid, indicate that this was done during that same time period.

In addition, portraits done by Rembrandt during this time period also featured hats with plumes on them, along with the play of light on lower eyelids. These characteristics place this painting along the same era as the painting “Christ before Pilate.”

It is assumed that some of the stylistic differences are due to the likelihood that one of Rembrandt’s students finished the painting for him. X-rays prove that this is an original painting, because the changes done to the painting during the process are only present during the actual development of the painting. These changes are not present in copies.

When the painting was declared a fake in 1968, studies began to determine the authenticity. A member of the original team that questioned the authenticity questioned the decision as early as 2005. However, it was not until the painting had been cleaned and restored and placed back on display at Buckland Abbey that he was able to confirm its true identity.

In 2010, the painting was given to the National Trust. It is now carefully guarded at the Abbey.

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