Rembrandt’s Newlyweds

Rembrandt’s Newlyweds

«Rembrandt, the Grand Master of painting, is known for his work with portraits and for his extraordinary masterpiece, The Night Watch. The beautiful tale of a matching pair of portraits depicting a young, newly-wed couple has now reached a perfect conclusion with their joint acquisition by two museums, the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum.»

Ever since the newlyweds were immortalized by Rembrandt in 1634, Marten and Oopjen Soolmans have never been separated. These exceptional, imposing paintings (each 2 metres in height) were acquired in 1877 by the Rothchilds and were on display until recently in the family’s private collection in France. Put on sale by Eric de Rothschild at a price tag of $160 million, the paintings far exceeded the acquisition budget of the Louvre. Even a classification as a national treasure would not have provided a solution for the financial shortcomings. Thus, an unprecedented measure was taken to ensure that the paintings are never separated: allowing them to be acquired jointly by two separate museums. An agreement was signed in early 2016 for a joint acquisition by the Louvre (with the support of the Banque de France) and the Rijksmuseum.

After a brief stint on exhibition at the Louvre, the paintings were sent away for restoration in Holland, where the most recent varnishes were removed to restore the past lustre of the paintings, laying bare the exceptional quality of the two portraits. The virtuosity of the artist’s depiction of lace and his majestic use of black are now fully revealed, along with other incredible clothing details. Recently unveiled in Amsterdam, the next stop for the paintings is back within Paris itself. The two museums agreed to take turns presenting the works, so that the newlyweds are never separated. Joint custody has never been so sweet.

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