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Rare oil sketch by Dutch master Rembrandt sells for £9.5 million at Sotheby's London

  • Auktion
    Rare oil sketch by Dutch master Rembrandt sells for £9.5 million at Sotheby's London
    06.12.2018

5 December 2018 – Moments ago, a rare oil sketch by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn sold for £9.5m (well in excess of its £6-8 million estimate) at Sotheby’s Old Master Evening Sale in London. Bidding for Study of the Head of a Young Man took a dramatic leap when a prospective buyer in the room called out a bid of £8 million - £3 million higher than the previous bid. The painting then went on to sell to a telephone bidder for £9,480,800.

Dating from around 1650, Study of the Head of a Young Man is one of a small series of informal but intensely moving oil sketches painted by Rembrandt of the same young man from the neighbourhood in Amsterdam where the artist lived. As in others from the series, Rembrandt envisions his model as Jesus Christ, seen here with his hands clasped in prayer. Measuring just over ten inches, this work stands today as a testament to Rembrandt’s mastery of handling paint on a reduced scale, and his ability to render human emotions.

This powerful and touching portrait was one of seven oil sketches of the Head of Christ featured in the seminal exhibition Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus at the Louvre, Paris (2011). During technical examination and restoration in preparation for the exhibition, two fingerprints – presumably those of Rembrandt himself - were found hidden underneath overpaint and darkened varnish. The distinguishing marks – most likely thumbprints - while difficult to prove conclusively, are believed to be the only known fingerprints of the Dutch master.






  • 06.12.2018
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    Dedicated Online-Only Auction Open for Bidding
    Through 7 December



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  • Lot 18 - Rembrandt
    Lot 18 - Rembrandt
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • _Rembrandt, Study of the Head of a Young Man, circa 1655, oil on oak panel (estimate in the region of £6 million)
    _Rembrandt, Study of the Head of a Young Man, circa 1655, oil on oak panel (estimate in the region of £6 million)
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • Rembrandt_fingerprints - Courtesy of Sotheby's
    Rembrandt_fingerprints - Courtesy of Sotheby's
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
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