Dutch State to allocate up to €150 million to acquire Rembrandt's Standard Bearer
The Dutch State is prepared to allocate up to 150 million euros to acquire a painting by Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn. The 1636 work known as De Vaandeldrager, or "The Standard Bearer" in English, is expected to be sold off by the Rothschild family, which has had the work in its possession since Jacob James de Rothschild purchased it in the 1840's for £840 at Christie's in London.
Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits said on Tuesday that the museum was prepared to "go to extremes" to acquire the work when it hits the market. A day later, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science said it has political support to earmark 150 million euros to that end.
Unlike the 2015 deal which saw the Netherlands eventually join with France in a 160 million euro bid to acquire two Rembrandt portraits, the Dutch government is not working with France this time. The French government blocked an export license for the Standard Bearer in 2019 to give the Louvre a 30-month window to put together the necessary founds to acquire in from the Rothschild collection. At the time, the Rijksmuseum had expressed its interest in making the purchase. Newswire AFP reported on Tuesday that the French State had given up on its hope of keeping the painting in France.
The Dutch State's contribution, will be supported by 15 million euros will be put forward by the Rembrandt Association. The Rijksmuseum Fund is also readying 10 million euros to contribute to the effort. Of the Dutch government's contribution, 19 million is part of the purchase fund set aside for the national museum.
The painting is said to be worth 165 million euros. Dibbits thinks that at least ten other serious buyers are also on the horizon.
Produced when he was 30 years old, the painting is a self-portrait where Rembrandt depicted himself as a standard-bearer leading the way in the Eighty Years' War. It represents the charge against Spanish rule, which was not to conclude until 1648 when the Netherlands became an independent country. The Cabinet said it was the breakthrough piece that eventually led to the creation of his most famous work, The Night Watch, which was commissioned in 1642.
Dibbits called the work the most important Rembrandt piece in a private collection, and it is in the top ten works of art he created. "For generations we have dreamed of returning De Vaandeldrager to our country. Now that the opportunity will present itself, we are joining forces to acquire this Rembrandt for the Netherlands for eternity," he said in a government issued press release on Wednesday. "The quality and the fact that this painting marks Rembrandt's artistic breakthrough makes it an unparalleled work by the master." He added that it marks the moment that, "Rembrandt became Rembrandt!"
"A purchase like this matters for now and for generations to come. The Rembrandt Association has been helping to realize dream purchases for 138 years. This will be a pinnacle of its existence, with the highest contribution ever pledged," said Fusien Bijl de Vroe, the director of the Rembrandt Association.
If the Netherlands is successful, it will become the 45th Rembrandt painting in possession in the Netherlands, 22 of which are currently held by the Rijksmuseum. Rembrandt created about 340 paintings in total.
"With the purchase of this painting, a missing link in the overview of Rembrandt's life and his development as an artist can be added to the Dutch collection," said Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven in a statement about the painting.
The Standard Bearer was loaned to the Rijksmuseum for an exhibit in 2019. If the acquisition is successful, it will tour around the country for people in all provinces to view.