France, Netherlands join forces to buy Rembrandt portraits

AP News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2015 12:05 PM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch and French governments are joining forces to buy a pair of wedding portraits by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn from the Rothschild family, and will shuttle them between Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum and the Louvre in Paris.

The life-size portraits of a young man and his wife ornately dressed in the high fashion of the Golden Age were painted in 1634 and are considered among the highlights of Rembrandt's extensive oeuvre.

Dutch Culture Minister Jet Bussemaker said Wednesday the two countries will each chip in 80 million euros ($89.5 million) to buy the life-sized portraits from 1634, one showing Maerten Soolmans and the other his wife Oopjen Coppit.

Rijksmuseum director Wim Pijbes said the paintings, which were last shown to the public in 1956 in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, will likely require minor restoration, but that they will probably first be displayed in their current state, hopefully arriving in Amsterdam in a matter of weeks.

Pijbes told Dutch broadcaster NOS the pair of portraits will be hung in the Rijksmuseum's Honor Gallery leading to Rembrandt's iconic "Nightwatch."

"The Honor Gallery is a great place," Pijbes said. "A lot of people fit in here. It will be busy in the Rijksmuseum when these paintings are shown to the public for the first time in more than 50 years."

Pijbes said the Rijksmuseum and Louvre will have to work out how often the paintings travel back and forth between the Dutch and French capitals, but stressed they would not be separated.

"They are a couple," he said of the paintings of man and wife. "They are two separate paintings, but you should see them as one art work, so it is not possible to show them apart from one another."

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Associated Press writer Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.

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This story has been corrected to show that the portraits were last shown to the public in 1956, not 1877 as the museum spokesman earlier said.