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When regular art lovers talk about “my Rembrandt”, they’re talking about what Rembrandt means to them. But when super-rich people use the phrase, it means something quite different. Oeke Hoogendijk’s bracing and amusing documentary is about high-stakes shenanigans in the art market involving seriously minted Rembrandt fanciers. It features an awful lot of very rich, clever, cordially self-satisfied collectors and connoisseurs; their pink, twinkly-eyed faces positively beam out of the screen, and surely Hoogendijk is inviting us to wonder how Rembrandt himself would have painted them.
In Scotland, the Duke of Buccleuch has invited someone from Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum to advise him on the rehanging of his prize possession: Old Woman Reading (1655). Did the Dutch visitor hope that His Grace might therefore loan this exquisite painting to the Rijksmuseum? If so, he was to be disappointed. Meanwhile, in France, Eric de Rothschild is selling two spectacular Rembrandts: the twin portraits of Martin Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, painted for their wedding in 1634. The Rijksmuseum wanted them, but to its rage had to buy them jointly, in a museum time-share with the Louvre, which had cunningly encouraged the French government to block a monopoly sale to a non-French buyer.
Most controversially of all, the dapper young Amsterdam dealer Jan Six, a descendant of the Jan Six that Rembrandt painted, spotted a painting up for auction in London that the people at Christie’s didn’t realise was an undiscovered Rembrandt. With absolute cunning and ruthlessness, Six bought it for a song, but enraged his various investors, partners and expert advisers in the process who thought that young Six had double-crossed them. This last quarrel is a very involved story, and the film does not explain it fully. For this, you will have to go to Russell Shorto’s long-read essay in the New York Times Magazine.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: My Rembrandt review – Old Master fanciers in the frame | Documentary films