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Painting at Clark Art Museum deemed real Rembrandt

Man Reading” (c. 1648), a painting attributed to Rembrandt van Rijn, at the Clark Art Institute.
Clark Art Institute
“Man Reading” (c. 1648), a painting attributed to Rembrandt van Rijn, at the Clark Art Institute.

You win some, you lose some. Rembrandts, that is. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum lost one when the Dutch master’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” was stolen in 1990. But with the determination that “Man Reading” is very likely the work of Rembrandt van Rijn, Williamstown’s Clark Art Institute has won one. Ernst van de Wetering, longtime head of the Netherlands-based Rembrandt Research Project, has concluded that the painting (at right), once considered a work by the “Rembrandt School” and later designated as “attributed to” Rembrandt, was created by the artist himself and not a disciple. That finding was recently published in the project’s sixth and final volume. So the Clark has installed the painting, which was acquired by the museum’s namesake Sterling Clark in 1923 and entered into the museum’s collection in 1955. Also known as “Portrait of a Man Reading by Candlelight,” it is on view for the first time since the July 2014 reopening of the Clark’s newly renovated museum building. (It will remain on view until early January.) “Ernst van de Wetering is a leading Rembrandt scholar, and his certainty that ‘Man Reading’ was created by the artist himself is an important piece of the attribution puzzle,” Clark curator Richard Rand said in a statement. “But as important as van de Wetering’s opinion is, it does not end the debate. We are comfortable with stating the painting is attributed to Rembrandt, but we will continue to review scholarship related to the painting.”

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