A Rembrandt (perhaps) and a Canaletto for the Getty Museum

1. Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
Rembrandt Laughing
Oil on Copper - 23.7 x 17 cm
Purchased by the Getty Museum
in England but it must still
obtain an export license
Photo : Getty Museum

7/5/13 - Acquisitions - Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum - We had recounted the story of this amazing discovery here : a presumed portrait by Rembrandt, on copper, which appeared on the auction block in England in October 2007 with the attribution, "follower of Rembrandt", had sold for 2.2 million pounds, suggesting that the buyer (and at least one other bidder) had detected an authentic work by the master. Less than a year later, the Rembrandt Research Institute confirmed the certification (see news item of 28/6/08).

The Getty Museum has now acquired the painting (ill. 1), today entitled Rembrandt Laughing. However, it would be premature to say that this is a definitive acquisition, as the work is still in England and the vendor [1] must first obtain an export license. The price was not disclosed but will obviously be made public if the British Cultural Minister decides to temporarily prohibit the export - which is more than likely - thus giving a potential English buyer a few months to drum up the money and acquire it instead of the Getty. A recent case comes to mind with the battle surrounding Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks (see news item, in French), which the Getty and the National Gallery in London fought over, successfully acquired finally by the latter.
The Los Angeles museum already owns four paintings by Rembrandt and is exhibiting a fifth which is on long-term deposit (Portrait of a Young Girl with Golden Cloak).

2. Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto (1697-1768)
A View of the Grand Canal from Palazzo Flangini
to the Campo San Marcuola

Oil on Canvas - 47 x 77.8 cm
Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo : D. R.

Another painting is sure to join this time the Getty Museum collections, a View of the Grand Canal (ill. 2) by Canaletto, which in fact already hangs in the galleries where it had been on loan from a New York dealer [2]. The work is characteristic of the artist who until now was represented at the Getty with only a Roman painting representing A View of Constantine with the Colosseum and two drawings.

As pointed out in The Los Angeles Times, these two works are the first to be purchased by the Getty since Timothy Potts took over as director last September, an appointment we had not commented here on our site. Previously, this archeologist from Sydney, Australia who obtained his doctorate at Oxford, had directed respectively the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth (1998-2007) as well as the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (2008-2012).

Version fran├žaise

Didier Rykner, lundi 13 mai 2013


[1] The Los Angeles Times thinks this is the Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox Gallery but was not able to reach them. We called them but they did not wish to make a comment which would appear to be an admission that they are indeed the sellers of this copper. It is unusual for a gallery or a museum to refuse to give out this kind of information...

[2] This information was published in The Los Angeles Times after contacting the museum which however refused to reveal the name of the seller.

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