Rembrandt’s “The Adoration of the Kings” first came to light in the 1950s.
Two years ago, auction house Christie’s estimated the value of this painting titled “The Adoration of the Kings” at around $15,000. It was initially considered a work from the “Circle of Rembrandt,” suggesting that a student or close friend of Rembrandt’s painted the biblical scene.
Collector J.C.H. Heldring acquired the painting in 1955 in Amsterdam. His widow then sold it to a German family in 1985. It remained with them until Christie’s sold the painting in 2021 to an anonymous buyer who bought it for $908,000.
When the buyer consigned the piece to Sotheby’s, the auction house poured in 18 months of research to determine the painting’s true attribution and value. This involved x-rays, infrared imaging, and lengthy discussions with certified Rembrandt scholars.
A value adding discovery
The conclusion is that this painting is an autograph work by Rembrandt. Research showed that Rembrandt painted the work in his early 20s, when he was living in the Dutch city of Leiden. The monochromatic piece measures 9.6 x 7.3 inches and depicts many of the painter’s signature tropes.
“I would say that it’s particularly significant because it adds to our understanding of Rembrandt at this crucial date in his development and career, when he was clearly very ambitious and developing very quickly as an artist,” George Gordon told CNN. Gordon was the specialist who led the months-long research project.
“Very few narrative paintings by Rembrandt remain in private hands, making this an opportunity for a private collector or an institution that is as rare as it is exciting,” he added in a news release.
The painting is currently on display at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong and will also travel to New York and Los Angeles. Its last trip with Sotheby’s will be to London, where it will be auctioned on December 6.
Banner image via Christie’s official website.