Buckland Abbey Rembrandt self-portrait is genuine

Cirsty Jones conservation Assistant & Patricia Burtnyk House & collections manager, Buckland Abbey with the Rembrandt Eight months of investigative work has confirmed the painting as a Rembrandt

Related Stories

A painting gifted to the National Trust has been verified as a genuine Rembrandt estimated to be worth £30m.

The self-portrait, which hangs in Devon's Buckland Abbey, had been the subject of debate over its authenticity, since 1968.

Eight months of investigative work at the Hamilton Kerr Institute (HKI) confirmed it was painted by Rembrandt.

The National Trust said extra security measures had been put in place as well as a specially created gallery.

Its authenticity had been thrown into doubt by Rembrandt specialist Horst Gerson and the Rembrandt Research Project.

Young boy examining Rembrandt painting A new exhibition telling the story of the painting opens later this month
Tina Sitwell, Paintings conservation advisor, looking at the self-portrait of Rembrandt The painting was acquired by the National Trust in September 2010

They felt that certain areas of the painting were not accomplished enough to be a Rembrandt.

However, in 2005 Ernst van de Wetering, one of the experts who questioned its authenticity 46 years ago, concluded the painting could be genuine.

Rembrandt 1606-1669

Portrait of the Artist by Rembrandt
  • Dutch artist Rembrandt painted hundreds of portraits and historical paintings when many of his peers were painting scenes of everyday life
  • His full name was Rembrandt van Rijn but he wanted to be a one-name artist as a tribute to his heroes Michelangelo and Raphael
  • He took stories from history, religion and even poetry and turned them into intense dramas such as Belshazzar's Feast.
  • Rembrandt made about 70 self portraits up until his death
  • Rembrandt was a master at contrasting light and dark. He used a technique called chiaroscuro. This is best seen in Night Watch

David Taylor, paintings and sculptures curator at the National Trust, said: "The debate over whether this is or isn't a Rembrandt has been on-going for decades.

"It's now much easier to appreciate it as a Rembrandt."

The painting was acquired by the National Trust in September 2010 as a gift from the estate of the late Lady Samuel of Wych Cross.

It was previously owned by the Princes of Liechtenstein.

Christine Slottvedd Kimbriel, the paintings conservator at HKI, said: "The self-portrait went through a series of investigate analyses to include close visual examination under magnification, infra-red reflectography, x-radiography, raking light photography and pigment and medium analysis.

"Careful cleaning and removal of several layers of aged and yellowed varnish which had been added to the painting much later, revealed the original colours and painting style beneath."

A close investigation of the artist's signature confirmed it was added "at the time of execution of the painting", the HKI concluded.

A new exhibition, called Rembrandt Revealed and telling the story of the painting, will open at Buckland Abbey on 13 June.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Devon



Min. Night 2 °C

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show


  • Kinetic sculpture violinClick Watch

    The "kinetic sculpture" that can replicate digital files and play them on a violin

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.