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Article: A $15,000 painting went for $13,8 million at auction. What it's about?

A Rembrandt $15,000 painting went for $13,8 million auction
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A $15,000 painting went for $13,8 million at auction. What it's about?

At a Sotheby's auction, a painting that was appraised at $15,000 two years ago brought in $13.8 million. After being appraised, it was found to be a Rembrandt.

The picture known as "Adoration of Kings" has not been viewed since it was discovered in the 1950s. In Amsterdam in 1955, collector J.C.H. Heldring bought it. In 1985, his widow sold it to a German family, and it stayed there until Christie's auction house in Amsterdam sold it two years ago.

Christie's valued the biblical scene "Rembrandt's Circle" at between €10,000 and €15,000 at the time of the sale and suggested it was painted by an apprentice or artist close to the well-known painter.
A $15,000 painting went for $13,8 million at auction. What it's about
Photo: The painting "Adoration of the Kings" (Source: Screenshot Sothebys.com)
After that, the painting was bought at Christie's auction by an unidentified buyer for €860,000, which was more than 50 times the painting's estimated worth at the time.

An Original Work by Rembrandt

According to a press release from Sotheby's, the Dutch painter subsequently described it as "a work of great importance".

Sotheby's undertook an 18-month investigation to determine the painting's actual provenance and value after the unidentified buyer gave it to them.

Following extensive consultations with Rembrandt scholars and the use of X-rays and infrared imaging in the assessment process, Sotheby's determined that the painting is "an original work by Rembrandt".

The auction house placed the work's value between £10 million and £15 million before the sale.

The artwork was most likely made early in Rembrandt's career, circa 1628, when he would have been 21 or 22 years old and residing in Leiden, a city in the Netherlands, according to the auction house.

Almost all of Rembrandt's paintings that have been put up for auction in the last three decades "have been portraits or studies of the head of a single figure," according to a Sotheby's announcement.

The great majority of his paintings are on display in museums across the globe.

It Brings Extra Information About Rembrandt

Thus, according to George Gordon, co-president of Sotheby's Old Master Paintings Worldwide, "The Adoration of the Kings," which portrays the meeting between the three wise men and the infant Jesus, constituted a "fantastic opportunity" in the art world.

"I would say it's particularly important because it increases the amount of information about Rembrandt at that crucial time in his development and career when he was very ambitious and developing very quickly as an artist," he said.

The artwork appears to have been mentioned for the first time in the inventory of Amsterdam collector Constantijn Ranst in 1714. After that, it was offered for sale in 1814 and 1822 before going out of style until the middle of the 20th century.

CNN reports that while prominent Rembrandt scholars cited it as a Rembrandt work and included it in museum exhibitions in the 1950s, German art historian Kurt Bauch, who was only familiar with the painting from a black and white photograph, described it as a product of the Rembrandt School and left it out of the catalog raisonné he was compiling in 1960.

According to Sotheby's, the work was thereafter "entirely overlooked and completely ignored in the Rembrandt literature".
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