Last privately-owned Rembrandt portraits sell as a pair for £11.2million

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Last privately-owned Rembrandt portraits, hidden away for 200 years, sell as a pair for £11.2million

  • Paintings of Jan Willemsz van der Pluym and wife Jaapgen Carels date from 1635
  • They went for twice the estimate as part of Christie’s Old Masters sale yesterday 

The last known pair of long forgotten portraits by Rembrandt to remain in private hands have sold for £11.2million.

The intimate paintings of Jan Willemsz van der Pluym and his wife Jaapgen Carels, signed and dated 1635, went for double the estimate as part of Christie’s Old Masters sale yesterday.

They had been hidden from public view for nearly 200 years when they were last under the hammer at the British auction house in 1824.

The oval shaped oil paintings, less than eight inches tall, were discovered by Henry Pettifer, Christie’s International Deputy Chairman of Old Master Paintings, during a valuation of a family’s private art collection.

He said the find was ‘one of the most exciting discoveries we have made in the Old Masters’ field in recent years’.

The intimate paintings of Jan Willemsz van der Pluym and his wife Jaapgen Carels, signed and dated 1635, went for double the estimate as part of Christie's Old Masters sale yesterday

The intimate paintings of Jan Willemsz van der Pluym and his wife Jaapgen Carels, signed and dated 1635, went for double the estimate as part of Christie’s Old Masters sale yesterday

‘The family liked the pictures but were never certain that they were by Rembrandt and never really looked into that,’ he told the Washington Post.

‘They have been quietly sitting in this collection, effectively hidden away from any attention at all.’ 

The two portraits were examined for two years before they were confirmed to be Rembrandt’s work by scholars at the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands earlier this year.

‘The pictures were completely absent from the Rembrandt literature in the 19th and 20th centuries, which was extraordinary,’ Mr Pettifer said. 

‘They have intimacy about them, a dignity. They’re extraordinary.’ They had an estimated value of £5 million to £8 million ahead of the sale.

The record price for a Rembrandt at auction was Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo which sold for £20.2 million at Christie’s in 2009.

Last month Rembrandt’s The Standard Bearer was unveiled at the Rijksmuseum after a £128million (150m euros) grant from the Dutch government and a further £21 million (25m euros) from the Rembrandt Association and the Rijksmuseum Fund.

It is believed to be the final major work by Rembrandt to enter a public museum from private owners.

They had been hidden from public view for nearly 200 years when they were last under the hammer at the British auction house in 1824

They had been hidden from public view for nearly 200 years when they were last under the hammer at the British auction house in 1824

The last known pair of long forgotten portraits by Rembrandt (pictured, self-portrait) to remain in private hands have sold for £11.2million

The last known pair of long forgotten portraits by Rembrandt (pictured, self-portrait) to remain in private hands have sold for £11.2million

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