A recently purchased Rembrandt painting is set to be shown in Groningen for the first time at an exhibition hosted by the Groninger Museum. The Standard Bearer, the nearly life-size self-portrait created by the Dutch Golden Age master in 1636, has been in the hands of private collectors for centuries. In 2022, it was acquired by the Dutch state because of its “great importance for the history and culture of the Netherlands.”
Influenced by Titian, the painting is regarded as one of Rembrandt’s most important works, not least because it marked him out as an artist of real standing, perhaps even of genius – and led directly to the commission for his masterpiece The Night Watch.
In the work, Rembrandt portrayed himself carrying a banner during the Eighty Years’ War, which the Netherlands entered to gain independence from the Spanish Kingdom. At the end of the war, in 1648, the Netherlands gained its freedom from the Habsburg rulers.
The painting has been in a French branch of the Rothschild family since 1844, and France classified it a “national treasure.”
When France announced that the Netherlands had the right to buy the work and decided that it could be sold under free market conditions, the Netherlands moved quickly to purchase it. The government paid €150 million, while the Rembrandt Association and the Rijksmuseum contributed a total of €25 million.
Since its acquisition, the painting has been touring all the Dutch provinces. Once the tour is completed, it will join the Rijksmuseum’s Gallery of Honor.
The portrait will be exhibited in Groningen from April 4 to May 7, 2023.