Fake? Fortune? A new Rembrandt?

The period home and Rembrandt museum in Amsterdam, sent me an invitation. Not to attend an opening: their summer exhibition on the friendship between Jan Six and Rembrandt opened early May. You can visit it at Rembrandt’s former home till early September 2017.

The invitation was for a series of lectures. As posted earlier, their exhibition concerns the friendship between wealthy Amsterdam burgher Jan Six and Rembrandt. After Saskia died, Jan Six I helped Rembrandt pick up life again, by commissioning an etching.

Gallery talk at the Rembrandthuis museumOf course, I signed up for the first set of afternoon lectures. Who can resist such an invitation? Another visit to a charming period home and interesting exhibition, based on friendship!

Senior curator David de Witt received his large group of guests in the exhibition room. Sorry if you happened to visit at the same time: it was rather crowded. Hope you got a chance to have a good look anyway.

As becomes clear when you visit, the Six family collected and continuous to collect anything related to Jan Six I.

2017 Henry Leys Rembandt and Jan Six IWhen the exhibition opened, a 19th century print of an imagined scene in Rembrandt’s studio hung on the wall? Shortly after the exhibition opened, the Six family managed to buy a 19th century oil painting showing the same scene. You can now admire both versions of Henri Leys’ 19t century impression of Jan visiting Rembrandt at this house.

Our group was soon taken downstairs for two lectures. Dr Erik Hinterding, curator at the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum took care of the first one. The various materials, ranging from expensive Japanese paper imported by the VOC, to effects of various techniques and tools were shown. Research as well as Rembrandt’s experiments were discussed. Fascinating!

The second lecture was by Jan Six junior. Yes, family tradition ensures every generation has a Jan Six. Once Geert Mak’s book “The Lives of Jan Six” becomes available in English later this year, you can read all about the family – and some Dutch history too.

It was this lecture which contained a bomb-shell.

The lecture resulted in what resembled another part of the famous BBC series “Fake or Fortune?”

While preparing his lecture on a different subject, Mr. Six leaved through the exhibition catalogue. If you have one too: page 45 has an image of what during the 19th and early 20th century was discussed as “Rembrandt yes/no”. It was finally said not to be by Rembrandt. This painting is now owned by the Musée Bonnat-Helleu in Bayonne, France.

It shows Jan Six I as a red-head. Yet all the drawings and prints are in white-grey-black. This set off Mr. Six on a detective trip and a different subject for his lecture.

The family always owned the plate, sketches and most prints. This painting shows Jan Six I standing in a pose quite close to the first drawing Rembrandt made. Rembrandt discarded this pose. Until this exhibition, only a few people were familiar with the change in pose.

Is the Bonnat-Helleu a “fake” or a “fortune”?

Of course, Mr. Six junior came up with more evidence. He convinced us. All guests agreed: this must be the real thing. This must be another Rembrandt!

Before you agree: more research is needed. The Rembrandt House Museum and the Musée Bonnat-Helleu will soon start their research and one day publish conclusions, on this “fake or fortune” case!

Museum Rembrandt House, Amsterdam


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