""When I first saw it I said it looked very much like a Rembrandt and was assured by the client it had been checked out years ago and it wasn't..."
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam concurred, but that cuts no ice with the bidders who drove up the price: it shot past its reserve of pounds 1,500 to a cool 2 million.
Readers of this blog may recall that something like this happened earlier this year when bidders at Gildings, recognised a Titian despite that auction house not being convinced of its authenticity. Looking at this new painting, I don't immediately peg it as autograph, though you can hardly judge from a small digital image. It could be by one of his pupils, but they tended to show themselves dressed up as the master and this individual looks like Rembrandt himself. If it is by Rembrandt, it looks like it fits into the late 1620s when the artist is using gorgets. Flicking through the catalogue of Rembrandt Self- Portraits held in London in the 1990s, I see that the closest it comes to is the Self-Portrait with Gorget, known through two versions, one in Nuremberg and one at the Hague- right. The expression of the artist here is so different from the Moore, Allen and Innocent 'Rembrandt'- more composed and dignified rather than laughing out loud. I can see why the Rijksmuseum have their doubts, because although the costume gels with the kind of armorial portrait produced in 1629, the laughing out loud expression just doesn't fit the mood of those pictures. Here, it's like somebody has painted a blend of Rembrandt and Frans Hals. Still, I'm intrigued and eagerly await developments.