The Louvre Abu Dhabi has acquired a work by Rembrandt van Rijn
that will join the museum’s permanent display after its inclusion in a forthcoming exhibition on artists of the Dutch Golden Age. The painting, Head of a young man, with clasped hands: Study of the figure of Christ
(c. 1648–1656), was identified as a Rembrandt in the 1930s and belongs to a series of oil sketches referred to as Rembrandt’s “Face of Jesus” group.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi acquired the work at auction in December at Sotheby’s London for £9.5 million ($12.1 million), well over its estimate of £6–8 million. Appearing on the market for the first time in 60 years, the work had until recently been hung in the artist’s house in Amsterdam. It will be featured in the exhibition “Rembrandt, Vermeer & the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection and the Musée du Louvre,” which runs at the Emirati museum from February 14th to May 18th.
The “Face of Jesus” series is made up of seven surviving paintings by Rembrandt and his pupils; they are all bust-length portraits depicting the same young man consistent with traditional renderings of Christ, and each work shows the figure bearing a slightly different expression. In choosing to paint from a posed model to depict Christ, Rembrandt went against much of the history of Christian art, which had traditionally relied on strictly copied prototypes.
In a statement, the director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manuel Rabaté, said: