Secret Rembrandt found hidden in National Gallery

The portrait of Jan Cornelis Sylvius by Rembrandt.
The portrait of Jan Cornelis Sylvius by Rembrandt.
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A PREVIOUSLY unknown work by Dutch master Rembrandt has been discovered hidden away in a box at the Scottish National Gallery.

The original etching was finally uncovered more than 300 years after its creation by art expert Dr Tico Seifert as he searched through a stored collection of work thought to be copies of work by the famed artist.

Rembrandt. Picture: Reuters

Rembrandt. Picture: Reuters

And after being officially authenticated by specialists in Amsterdam the piece, which is estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, is finally set to go on show at the gallery.

Dr Seifert, the gallery’s senior curator for northern European art stumbled across the rare red-ink picture while doing research and saw it had all the hallmarks of an original.

He said: “I was going through the boxes of copies of Rembrandt when the first thing that caught my eye is that it is an impression in red ink.

“Normally prints, engravings or etchings are produced in black ink. This particular impression is in a brownish red ink which is pretty rare. That was what first made me hesitate going through to the next one.

“I checked the handbooks for what kind of copy this might be and they said the copies are always in reverse.

“When I saw it wasn’t, I thought this is most likely not a copy.”

Made in 1633, the portrait depicts Amsterdam preacher Jan Cornelis Sylvius (1564-1638) – a relative of Rembrandt’s wife Saskia van Uylenburgh, who became godfather to the couple’s first child and baptised their daughter Cornelia in 1638. Copies of Rembrandt’s work were common in his lifetime and continued until the 19th century to meet demand for his imagery and were also a cheaper alternative to his originals.

Colleagues in Amsterdam, who were compiling a catalogue of all Rembrandt’s etchings throughout the world, confirmed it was a genuine article which has never previously been recorded in red.

It will now go on display at the museum, which already has approximately 100 of his works, although the rare nature of this print is likely to make it one of the most valuable.

Charlotte Riordan, a specialist at Edinburgh-based fine art dealers Lyon and Turnbull, said it would attract a lot of interest if it were ever to go on the market.

She said: “It would be likely to fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds at auction. It’s a real rarity and, as such, a bit of an unknown quantity.

“Rembrandt collectors would all be keen, not to mention museums.”

Dr Seifert added: “I think it is very exciting, it is just a great discovery and something that doesn’t happen every day.”


THIS portrait is thought to be worth hundreds of thousands but works by the 17th century Dutch master can reportedly set you back as little as £1000.

After nearly four centuries, many are torn, holed, creased and stained. Big auctioneers reject the majority because selling lots at less than £1000 is bad business.

A Rembrandt print priced at less than £1000 is likely to be either damaged or a later impression and can be bought from dealers across the world.

The exceptions prove that Rembrandt collectors do go for quality, with a print of Armenian preacher Jan Uytenbogaert, currently on sale for £4 million.