An exciting new addition to the collection of the Allentown Art Museum (AAM) in Pennsylvania, Rembrandt van Rijn’s “Portrait of a Young Woman” (1632), had been in the museum all along. Donated to AAM in the 1970s, the exquisite oil on oak panel was formerly attributed to the studio of Rembrandt — meaning it was thought to be created by someone in the artist’s workshop, and not by Rembrandt himself. A recent restoration has revealed the work to be an original by the Dutch Old Master.
How did Rembrandt’s inimitable brushstrokes and mastery of light and shadow remain hidden from view? Ironically, past restorations are to blame. Over the centuries, conservators applied thick, dark varnish over the painting to create a sheen, sacrificing the clarity of the portrait, muting its colors, and concealing Rembrandt’s meticulous brushwork. Viewers had been looking at the painting “through a dirty windshield,” said Shan Kuang, an assistant conservator and research scholar at the Conservation Center of the New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, in a press release.
When it was first donated to the museum in 1961, the work hung as a Rembrandt original, but the Rembrandt Research Project contested the attribution in 1970, basing its research on then-limited x-ray technology. The painting was henceforth credited to the artist’s workshop.
During the two-year restoration process, undertaken at the Conservation Center and coordinated by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Kuang removed layers of varnish and paint, cleaned the portrait, and used digital photography and electron microscopy to distinguish original materials from later alterations.
“The painting has this incredible glow to it now that it just didn’t have before,” said the museum’s vice president of curatorial affairs, Elaine Mehalakes, in an e-mail. “This single object in our collection has this incredibly rich and complicated history. There could be stories like that among other artworks. It’s very exciting.”
The painting, currently in the museum’s vault, will go back on public display in its Kress Gallery starting June 7, 2020.
The action could disrupt public access to the museum as workers campaign for higher wages and better labor conditions.
Over 500 scholars signed an open letter to reinstate the exhibition, which was postponed in consideration of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
This week, artist studios in the streets of Manhattan, a Texas high school, a Brooklyn apartment, and more.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month, including Ed Ruscha, Nina Katchadourian, Luis Camnitzer, Martha Edelheit, and more.
Join the New-York Historical Society on February 10 for a virtual conversation about our changing relationship to the natural world with Julie Decker, John Grade, and LaMont Hamilton.
Asawa’s life masks do not keep count of past or future losses.
At San Francisco’s Legion of Honor, Mobina Nouri took scissors to her own strands and invited others to do the same.
Amid a worsening inflation crisis, Sergio Guillermo Diaz’s banknote artworks are a poignant symbol of Argentinian resilience.
Theatres of Melancholy: The Neo-Romantics in Paris and Beyond highlights a group of artists who found acclaim and patronage only to fall back into obscurity.
Presented by Northwestern’s Block Museum and McCormick School of Engineering, this new exhibition seeks empathy at the boundaries of life. On view in Evanston, Illinois.
Jean Renoir’s newly restored 1939 classic proves that lawless wealth — then as now — makes a marvelous farce of us all.
Hamburg’s Antisemitism Commissioner disparaged photographer Adam Broomberg for his support of the BDS movement.