Two Rediscovered Rembrandts Are Headed to Auction After 200 Years

The works have remained unknown to scholars since their last public appearance in 1824.

Two portraits in gold frames held up by hands in white gloves
Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jan Willemsz van der Pluym and Portrait of Jaapgen Carels (1635). Courtesy of Christie's.

Two long-forgotten Rembrandt portraits will come to public view this summer for the first time in nearly two centuries.

The paintings, signed and dated in 1653, will be exhibited in New York and Amsterdam ahead of Christie's July Old Masters Part I sale in London. The last portraits by Rembrandt to remain in a private collection, the two works are expected to sell for between £5 million and £8 million ($6.25 million and $10 million).

The portraits depict Jan Willemsz van der Pluym and Jaapgen Carels, who died in 1644 and 1640 respectively. Members of a prominent family in Leiden, the Netherlands, their son married Rembrandt’s cousin and their grandson Karel van der Pluym is thought to have trained with the Dutch artist.

At just under eight inches tall each, the rare paintings are some of the smallest of Rembrandt’s works. “This is one of the most exciting discoveries we have made in the Old Masters field in recent years,” said Henry Pettifer, Christie’s international deputy chairman of Old Masters, in a statement.

‘A remarkable, virtually unbroken line of provenance’

The portraits were owned by the sitters until 1760, when they were sold at an Amsterdam auction to Count Vincent Potocki. Making their way through the private collections of Baron D’Ivry and James Murray, 1st Baron Glenlyon, the paintings were eventually put up for auction at Christie’s in 1824 and were subsequently kept in an unnamed private U.K. collection for the past 200 years, remaining “completely unknown to scholars ever since,” according to Christie’s.

The two works recently underwent extensive scholarly and scientific investigations at the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands, and will be auctioned by Christie’s on July 6 alongside Cornelis van Haarlem’s The Raising of Lazarus, one of Jan Breughel the Elder’s landscapes of hell and a Joachim Beuckelaer market scene.

“Christie’s has attributed the two paintings to Rembrandt. At Christie’s request, the Rijksmuseum has conducted material-technical and art-historical research and came to the same conclusion,” said Casper van der Kruit, a spokesperson for the museum, in an emailed statement to Observer.

More Old Masters are coming to auction

Christie’s Old Master Week returns to New York later this month with the second sale of Remastered: Old Masters from the Collection of J.E. Safra on May 24 (featuring works by Jan Brueghel II, Gustave Courbet and Angelica Kauffman) and the Old Masters sale on May 25 (featuring Giuseppe Vermiglio’s Christ before Pilate and Marten van Cleve’s Interior of a farmhouse with a wet nurse).

Christie’s Paris will also sell a series of Old Masters paintings online and live in June. The sale includes fifty works with a combined estimate between 4 million euros and 6 million euros ($4.35 million and $6.52 million). Auction highlights include Anne Vallayer-Coster’s La Nature morte au vase de fleurs, which is expected to sell for between 600,000 euros and 1 million euros ($652,000 and $1 million), and works from Jusepe de Ribera, Pierre Patel and Jan Brueghel the Younger.

Two Rediscovered Rembrandts Are Headed to Auction After 200 Years