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History of Rembrandt collecting in America


"While the primary focus of the exhibition is on the history of Rembrandt collecting in America, the show also explores his work across various genres, his artistic evolution, and his influence on other artists of the day. Included in this exhibition are a number of significant portraits from Rembrandt’s prosperous early career in Amsterdam as the city’s most sought-after portrait painter, as well as character studies, historical and biblical scenes, and three of his celebrated self-portraits. 


In addition, the exhibition features a gallery with Rembrandt catalogues since the mid-19th century. Visitors will also get a glimpse into the world of conservation with a painting on loan from the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. Consisting of nearly 50 paintings, the exhibition brings together 27 autograph paintings by Rembrandt as well as others thought to be by the master when they entered American collections but whose attributions can no longer be maintained. 


These include paintings by Dutch masters Jan Lievens and Govert Flinck. Rembrandt in America not only investigates the overall issue of collecting Rembrandts in America but also the collecting history of some of the works in the NCMA’s collection. 


In the 1950s Museum director and Rembrandt expert William Valentiner recommended the acquisition of two paintings then thought to be by Rembrandt. 


Since their acquisition, however, the paintings have been reattributed to other artists. This exhibition is the first to examine these paintings within the larger context of attribution and collecting Rembrandts during the 20th century. 


Many exhibitions devoted to Rembrandt’s paintings were held in 2006, during the 400-year anniversary of the artist’s birth; however, Rembrandt in America is unique in offering visitors a rare opportunity to envision the evolving opinions of scholars and collectors regarding what constituted an autograph Rembrandt painting over a period of more than a century. 

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