May 05, 2016

J. Paul Getty Museum to Exhibit Earliest Known Rembrandt Paintings, Including Recently Rediscovered Work

The Unconscious Patient (An Allegory of Smell), 1624, resurfaced at auction last year and is one of a series of paintings depicting the five senses. It will be exhibited with the “Senses” Hearing and Touch for the first time in three centuries.

The Promise of Youth: Rembrandt’s Senses Rediscovered

May 11–August 28, 2016
at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center
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Amy Hood
Getty Communications
(310) 440-6427
The Unconscious Patient (An Allegory of the Sense of Smell), about 1624, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669) Oil on Panel. Image Courtesy of the Leiden Collection, New York.
LOS ANGELES — The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today that it will exhibit three of Rembrandt’s earliest known paintings, lent by the Leiden Collection in New York, in a special installation highlighting the recently rediscovered The Unconscious Patient (An Allegory of the Sense of Smell), 1624. One of a series by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669) depicting the five senses, The Unconscious Patient, the artist’s earliest monogrammed signed painting, will be exhibited with two others from the series—Hearing and Touch—as well as other early Rembrandts.

"Rembrandt is unquestionably one of the greatest and most-loved painters of the European tradition, whose work still grips modern audiences as strongly as it did his own contemporaries,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “This special installation provides a unique opportunity to witness him at the genesis of his career, some four hundred years ago, as a young man of only eighteen or nineteen just beginning on his professional career. While it is not yet the Rembrandt we know from his maturity, these works already demonstrate his experimental approach and show some of the emotional intensity that was to be an enduring features of his work. It is particularly appropriate to be bringing these works together for the first time at the Getty Museum, as we possesses the most significant collection of early Rembrandts in the United States. Complemented by other loans from Thomas Kaplan and Daphne Recanati-Kaplan’s Leiden Collection, this presentation represents a remarkable visual survey of the development of the artist. We, and other museums, are deeply grateful for Tom and Daphne’s continuing generosity in making his works accessible to a broader public.”

Until last year, only three of the five Senses were known to art historians. The exhibition will feature The Sense of Smell along with The Stone Operation (An Allegory of the Sense of Touch) and The Three Musicians (An Allegory of The Sense of Hearing). A fourth known picture from the set, The Spectacle Seller (An Allegory of The Sense of Sight), is in the collection of the Lakenhal Museum in Leiden. The whereabouts of the fifth sense, an allegory of taste, remains unknown.

“Rembrandt’s ability to convey emotions and create a compelling narrative on a small scale is fully evident in these fascinating and important paintings,” says Anne Woollett, curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “Viewing these works with other important early paintings, including the Getty’s self-portrait Rembrandt Laughing (1628) and An Old Man in Military Costume (about 1630–31), shows Rembrandt’s desire to capture a range of human emotions and ages in paint, and how rapidly he developed in only a few short years. Thanks to the generosity of the Leiden Collection, the Senses allow us to trace this remarkable trajectory.”

In autumn 2015, The Sense of Smell surfaced at an auction in the United States. It has since entered the Leiden Collection, the private collection and gallery of Thomas S. Kaplan in New York that was already home to its sister pictures: The Sense of Hearing and The Sense of Touch. Recently, The Sense of Smell was on view at TEFAF Maastricht where it caused a stir and commanded a great deal of attention. Two other Rembrandts from the Leiden Collection, Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak (1632) and Portrait of a Rabbi (about 1640–45), among other Dutch seventeenth-century paintings, have been at the Getty Museum on long-term loan and will be shown in conjunction with the Senses.

“We are truly thrilled that the first museum to exhibit Rembrandt’s earliest known signed work, An Allegory of The Sense of Smell and its companions is the Getty,” says Thomas Kaplan. “Reuniting the painting with two of the other known works in the series already in the Leiden Collection has been a tremendous delight for me and my wife, Daphne. Since the beginning of our lending program almost a decade ago, with our loan to the Getty of Jan Lievens’s Boy with a Turban, the Getty has been a wonderful friend and partner, allowing us the joy of sharing the Leiden Collection with the broadest possible audience. Exhibiting our collection of Rembrandt and his school has far surpassed the privilege of being able to acquire such fine art. This exhibition is no exception. If anything, to see Rembrandt’s Senses together is to behold the first blush of genius that changed the arc of art history.”

It is likely that Rembrandt painted the Senses in his hometown of Leiden in about 1624 to 1625, following his training with Jacob van Swanenburg (1571–1638) and prior to six months in Amsterdam studying with the illustrious history painter Pieter Lastman (1583¬–1633). The Senses attest to Rembrandt’s close relationship with his friendly rival in Leiden, Jan Lievens (1607¬–1674), whose Card Players (1623–24), also from the Leiden Collection, will be included in this special installation.

After being exhibited at the Getty Museum, the Senses as well as Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak and Portrait of a Rabbi will be exhibited internationally.

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About the Leiden Collection:
Founded by Thomas Kaplan and Daphne Recanati-Kaplan, the Leiden Collection comprises more than 200 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. The Collection features unique rarities by some of the greatest artistic innovators of the seventeenth century, including Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen, along with their peers, competitors, and followers. Named for Rembrandt’s birthplace, the Leiden Collection is highlighted by ten Rembrandt paintings that span his career, including the earliest of his known works, the Senses series. In addition to the ten Rembrandts, whose number matches or exceeds all but those in a few national museums, the Collection encompasses the broadest range of masterworks of his many pupils, including Carel Fabritius, Ferdinand Bol, Govert Flinck, Gerrit Dou, Aert De Gelder, Jan Lievens (Rembrandt’s studio mate), and Pieter Lastman (their mutual teacher). In sum, the Collection features the largest and most extensive representation of Rembrandt and the Rembrandt School in private hands. By focusing on portraits, history paintings, and genre scenes, the artwork in the Collection brings the everyday world of the 1600s to life. Since its creation, the Leiden Collection has prided itself on sharing its artworks with museums across the globe for long-term loans and special exhibitions and, in doing so, has become the art world’s singular “lending library” of seventeenth-century art.

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.

The J. Paul Getty Museum collects Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts to 1900, as well as photographs from around the world to the present day. The Museum’s mission is to display and interpret its collections, and present important loan exhibitions and publications for the enjoyment and education of visitors locally and internationally. This is supported by an active program of research, conservation, and public programs that seek to deepen our knowledge of and connection to works of art.

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