Two portraits believed to have been painted by renowned Dutch artist Rembrandt have been discovered by experts at Christie’s auction house, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.
The paintings, which had been unknown to art scholars, were reportedly found in the private collection of a British family, according to the FT. Christie’s auctioneers were carrying out a routine valuation when they came upon two portraits of an elderly husband and wife from Leiden, Netherlands, dated to 1635.
“I wasn’t aware of what I was going to be seeing,” said Henry Pettifer, international deputy chair of Old Master paintings at Christie’s, after discovering the works. “I dared to dream,” he added, saying it was “extraordinary to me that the pictures had never been studied before. They were completely absent from the Rembrandt literature.”
It is reported that ancestors of the family, whose identity has not been disclosed, bought the two paintings in 1824 at a Christie’s auction. The portraits are believed to depict Jan Willemsz van der Pluym and his wife Jaapgen Carels – a couple said to have had family connections to Rembrandt, who painted them during a time when he was just establishing his reputation as an artist.
After discovering the paintings, Christie’s experts conducted a series of tests and analyzed the portraits to find that they showed a “virtually unbroken” line of provenance extending back to the sitters who commissioned Rembrandt.
The auction house then sent the works for further analysis to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which specializes in Rembrandt scholarship. The museum conducted material-technical and art-historical research and confirmed that the paintings were indeed by the legendary artist.
The two 20-centimeter-high portraits are set to go up for auction at Christie’s showrooms in London on July 6, after first going on display in New York and Amsterdam. Experts believe the works to be valued at somewhere between £5-8 million ($6-10 million) for the pair.
Rembrandt is said to have created some 350 paintings during his lifetime and is considered one of the greatest Dutch painters of the Golden Age, as well as one of the greatest ever visual artists. The highest price ever fetched for his work was set in 2009, when his ‘Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo’ sold for £20.2 million at a Christie’s auction.