‘Kim and Kanye’: Rembrandt paintings back home after 400 years

France, Netherlands jointly purchase masterpieces for €160m.

Afp July 02, 2016
The two paintings are displayed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. PHOTO: AFP

AMSTERDAM: Almost four centuries after Dutch master Rembrandt painted a young married couple, their two portraits are back home in Netherlands thanks to a unique joint €160 million purchase with France.

Dating from 1634, the portraits show wealthy Dutchman Marten Soolmans, 21, and his new wife Oopjen Coppit, 23, both wearing black with white lace as they mark a year of marriage.

“It’s the first time that they are in public hands, and can be seen [by millions of people],” the director of collections at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Taco Dibbits, said.

In a historic deal in January, France and Netherlands agreed to jointly buy the two large Rembrandt tableaux for €160 million ($174 million) from the French branch of the Rothschild family, one of the world’s wealthiest and most influential art collectors.

After several months on show in the Louvre in Paris, they were unveiled at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

The paintings have been in private hands for almost four centuries, and have belonged to the Rothschilds since 1877. Prior to going on show in the Louvre, they had only once been seen in public in 1956.

Some nine million people have already flocked to the Louvre to see the couple, dubbed by the Amsterdam museum as “the Kim Kardashian and the Kanye West of the Golden Age”.

The Rijksmuseum, which is hanging the portraits next to Rembrandt’s seminal work The Night Watch, hopes millions more will come and marvel at the pictures until the exhibition closes on October 2.

Towering more than two metres (six feet) in height, they almost resemble “black and white photographs,” said Dibbits, with Rembrandt creating a third dimension thanks to his use of light and shade.

Marten is seen holding a leather glove in his left hand, while Oopjen’s belly is already rounded, showing she is expecting their first child.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2016.

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