Largest Rembrandt self portrait is coming home next year

Rembrandt Van Rijn, Self-portrait (1658), The Frick Collection
Rembrandt Van Rijn, Self-portrait (1658), The Frick Collection

The Mauritshuis in The Hague is celebrating its 200th anniversary next year with an exhibition starring Rembrandt’s largest self portrait and nine other paintings from the Frick Collection never before shown in Europe.

Businessman Henry Clay Frick (1848-1919) stipulated in his will that none of the art in his collection could leave his New York house turned museum. ‘But work is being done on the house so we could choose a number of paintings from the collection,’ Mauritshuis curator Quentin Buvelot told the Volkskrant.

Rembrandt painted the portrait, with the artist dressed in 16th century exotic garb, in 1658 when he was 52, broke and forced to sell most of his possessions.  It is the largest of the over 40 self portraits he painted throughout his life, measuring 133.7 centimetres in height and 103.8 centimetres in width.

When it was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1909 after being purchased by Frick in 1906, Rembrandt was described as having ‘the head of an old lion at bay, worn and melancholy, yet conscious of his strength, determined and a little defiant’.

The Mauritshuis will reveal which paintings will accompany the Rembrandt in the run up to the exhibition which will which open in September next year.

Other celebratory activities will be organised all the year round, the museum said.

For example, murals measuring up to 80 square metres will be painted in five neigbourhoods in The Hague,  including the Schilderswijk (where many streets carry the names of painters).

‘We hope to reach a new audience and at the same time we hope faithful visitors to the Mauritshuis will want to get to know these areas where they may have never set foot before,’ director Martine Gosselink told the paper.

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