Research on two portraits by Rembrandt
In 1903, Danish art collector Johannes Hage bought Rembrandt's Portrait of a 39-year-old woman (1632). Today, the portrait hangs on the walls of The Nivaagaard Collection, which, together with the RKD, has launched an investigation into this portrait and its possible counterpart at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In September, the research will be completed and presented with a focus exhibition where the portraits will hang side by side for the first time in 223 years.
The Nivaagaard Collection
Located in the residential town of Nivå in the northern outskirts of Copenhagen, The Nivaagaard Collection was originally a private collection created by landowner and politician Johannes Hage (1842-1923). Johannes Hage collected mainly Dutch and Flemish paintings from the early modern period. With the mediation of Dutch art historian Cornelis Hofstede de Groot (1863-1930), Hage bought Rembrandt's Portrait of a 39-year-old woman from 1632 from an English art dealer in 1903. The portrait was picked up by Hofstede de Groot himself in London, and before it travelled on to Denmark, it was on display in The Hague for two months at the major portrait exhibition.
The hypothesis that the work is a pendant of Portrait of a 40-year-old man at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is longstanding. There are three reasons for this: the portraits are both painted on oval oak panels of roughly the same size, have almost identical inscriptions to the right and left of the figures, and they were simultaneously offered for sale in Lyon in 1801. In the first half of 2024, both paintings will be technically examined under the direction of Jørgen Wadum and additional provenance research will be carried out by RKD curator Angela Jager to test the hypothesis that the works are pendants. This research will be conducted in the context of the project Dutch and Flemish paintings at The Nivaagaard Collection, a collaboration between The Nivaagaard Collection and the RKD resulting in a collection catalogue (autumn/winter 2024).
The results of the research on Rembrandt portraits will be presented in the focus exhibition Rembrandt Reunited at The Nivaagaard Collection (3 September-10 November 2024). It is extraordinary that the Metropolitan Museum of Art will give Portrait of a 40-year-old man on loan to The Nivaagaard Collection for a period of over two months, allowing the public to view both paintings side by side and form their own judgement on their relationship. On 2 September, the exhibition opens with an international research seminar where the research findings will be presented and discussed.