|Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669), Rembrandt Laughing. |
Private Collection, courtesy of Hazlitt Gooden & Fox, London.
“This is one of the most exciting artistic rediscoveries in recent years,” said Museum Director Brian Kennedy. “Rembrandt Laughing is one of the first and most joyful examples of the artist’s autobiography in paint.”
A century and a half after Rembrandt’s death, the portrait was mistakenly thought to be by his older contemporary Frans Hals, and it was reproduced as Hals’s work in an engraving. Some scholars of the 20th century realized it was a case of mistaken identity—that the painting shown in the engraving was in fact a Rembrandt—but couldn’t prove their case because the original was “lost.”
The painting emerged and made headlines in 2007 after the English family who owned it for the past 100 years decided to sell it through a local auction house. The painting was attributed to “a follower of Rembrandt,” with an estimated value of only $1,600–$2,400. However, art dealers recognized its quality and importance, and bidding went to more than a thousand times that amount to $4.5 million.
“Still, that price was a bargain,” said Lawrence Nichols, TMA’s William Hutton curator, European and American painting and sculpture before 1900. “The painting’s estimated value today is well in excess of what it sold for at auction.”
The painting has been on display in Dallas and Denver museums in the past several months to give selected American audiences a chance to view the spectacular find. Kennedy asked the current owner for the loan during a visit the two had last fall in Toledo.
Kennedy and Nichols, both passionate about Dutch painting, will be lecturing on Rembrandt Laughing, along with TMA’s two other Rembrandt paintings, Young Man with Plumed Hat and Man in a Fur-Lined Coat, in coming months. Watch for further details.
About the Toledo Museum of Art
The mission of the Toledo Museum of Art is based upon the belief in the power of art to ignite the imagination, stimulate thought, and provide enjoyment. Through our collection and programs, we strive to integrate art into the lives of people.
The Toledo Museum of Art is a nonprofit arts institution funded through individual donations, foundation grants, corporate sponsorships, and investments. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund programs at the Toledo Museum of Art through a sustainable grant program that encourages economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
Admission to the Museum is free. The Museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.– 6 p.m.; Sunday, Noon–6 p.m.; closed Mondays and major holidays. Friday evening hours are made possible by Fifth Third Bank.