Christie’s eyes world record with Rembrandt

December 5th, 2009 - 3:17 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 5 (ANI): A new world record for a Rembrandt is expected to be set at Christie’s when a 1658 painting by the Dutch painter sells for up to 25 million pounds.

The Flemish Old Master had painted Portrait of a Man during a period of personal crisis.

The painting went on display at Christie’s on December 4 ahead of next Tuesday’s sale. It is the first time it has been exhibited since 1970.

The current record for a Rembrandt, for a picture of an old woman simply called Portrait of a Lady, is 19.8 million pounds. It sold at Christie’s in December 2000 against a pre-sale estimate of just 4-6 million pounds.

By contrast, Christie’s experts have estimated Portrait of a Man at 18-25 million pounds.

While the sale price is unlikely to be quadruple the estimate this time, auctions of sought-after works have routinely broken estimates in recent months.

Richard Knight, joint head of the Old Masters department at Christie’s, said Portrait of a Man was painted two years after Rembrandt was declared bankrupt.

While he had achieved fame during the 1630s and 1640s, he spent the resulting fortune at an astonishing pace, largely on art.

He was forced to auction off his collection and then sell his house, where he had lived and worked since 1639.

Knight said the portrait, of an unknown sitter, was an example of “an increasingly expressive vein” in Rembrandt’s work, with a strong use of palate, treatment of light and vigorous use of paint reminiscent of his hero Titian.

Such a style was “out of step” with the more refined techniques of the day, he said, demonstrating Rembrandt’s move towards a more radical approach.

“It stands as a magnificent statement of Rembrandt’s genius as a portraitist,” the Telegraph quoted Knight as saying.

The painting has only been auctioned once before, in 1930, when it was described as “simplified and effective, monumental in character”.

It is one of a number of highlights of Christie’s Old Masters and 19th Century Art sale on December 8, at which a sketch by Raphael will also be offered, estimated to sell for up to 16 million pounds. (ANI)

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