Senate approves €175 million Rembrandt purchase
The Dutch Senate approved the purchase of the Rembrandt painting The Standard Bearer. The State is allocating 150 million euros for this. The Rembrandt Association and the Rijksmuseum will pay the remaining 25 million. The Senate's approval was the last hurdle to the purchase. The entire process will be completed within four weeks, and then the Netherlands will officially own the work, according to the new State Secretary Gunay Uslu (Culture).
The purchase found lukewarm enthusiasm in both the Senate and the lower house of parliament. Various parties complained about the timing of the purchase. Many creators in the cultural sector, often working as freelancers, are suffering under the coronavirus measures. The fact that the Cabinet is now allocating 150 million euros to a single work is a concern for these parties. The left-wing opposition, among others, wants the Cabinet to help current artists better. The VVD said it finds a debate about self-employed workers' position in the cultural sector "very good and necessary," but not a condition for supporting the purchase.
Uslu understands that the sale feels "uncomfortable" during a pandemic. But the fact that the work is on the market now offers an opportunity that will not arise again soon, according to the State Secretary. Uslu, who previously worked as an art historian, pointed to the "unique style" of the work, which she believes is a prelude to Rembrandt's most famous masterpiece, The Night Watch. "It is a turning point in his career."
The Rothschild family put the canvas up for sale in 2018, but the French government wanted the first claim on the work because it considered The Standard Bearer a "national treasure." There is already an agreement between the Cabinet and the family about the purchase.
The Standard Bearer is not the Dutch State's first art purchase. In 1998 it bought the Victory Boogie Woogie by painter Piet Mondriaan for 80 million guilders. In 2014, the government and France together bought two Rembrandt paintings: the wedding portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. Both countries paid 80 million euros. The canvases may only hang in the Louvre or the Rijksmuseum.
Reporting by ANP