Most Dutch against €80m in state funding for Rembrandt purchase

Brother and Sister of the Night Watch
Rembrandt portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit (Pictures: Wikimedia Commons/ portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit (Pictures: Wikimedia Commons/

Roughly 56 percent of the Dutch population believe that the government should not contribute 80 million euros in public funding for the purchase of two Rembrandt paintings, according to results from a weekly poll conducted by Maurice de Hond. At the same time, new reports surfaced this week that the Netherlands is likely to receive only one of the two Rembrandt paintings the government and the Rijksmuseum were scheduled to buy, according to parliamentary sources speaking with the Parool.

Just 36 percent of voters in the Netherlands were in favour of the 80 million euro taxpayer contribution, with 56 percent disapproving the move. Supporters of a wide range of political parties indicated they were against the state-funded purchase. The total price tag for two paintings, dubbed "Brother and Sister of the Night Watch," comes to 160 million euros.

Just over half of conservative VVD and leftist Labour members were against the purchase, while anti-Islam PVV saw an overwhelming 78 percent come out against the state funding. The Socialist Party and 50Plus were also not in favour, tallying 69 and 73 percent against.

However, the centre-right CDA showed a majority support for the Dutch financing, with a 53 percent approval rating, as did the centrist D66 voters. Sixty percent of that party approve of the measures.

The news that France wanted to purchase one of the two paintings, widely expected to be sold as a pair, surprised many. The deal between the paintings' owners, Baron Eric de Rothschild, and both the Rijksmuseum and Dutch government ended in a provisional agreement, but France's cultural minister had a change of heart in the face of hefty criticism by media there after initially showed little interest in the paintings.

The French Central Bank offered to assist in the purchase of one of the Rembrandts, on the condition it be displayed at the Louvre in Paris.

PvdA leader Diedrik Samson told television program Buitenhof over the past weekend that the most important thing is that the paintings do not disappear into a private collection but should rather be on display for the public. He added that the main goal was to keep the works in Europe, whether in France or the Netherlands.