The Dutch Government announced yesterday its intention to purchase Rembrandt’s The Standard Bearer (1636) for the national collection. For centuries, the masterpiece has been owned by private collectors, including England’s King George IV and, since 1844, the Rothschild family. The self portrait, which was last shown in the Rembrandt-Velasquez exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in 2019, may be considered the most important painting by the artist still in private hands. The Rothschild family had offered the painting up for sale in 2018 but the French government declared it a national cultural treasure and issued a 30-month export ban that is about to expire.
The Standard Bearer is one of Rembrandt’s masterpieces and is inextricably linked to the history of the Netherlands. Standard-bearers were positioned in the front line in battle in the Eighty Years’ War, the War of Independence which led to the birth of the Netherlands in 1648. In this large self-portrait, Rembrandt paints himself looking rebellious and full of bravado. It was this artistic breakthrough that would lead to The Night Watch.
Rembrandt was thirty years old when he painted The Standard Bearer. He painted himself in the portrait in the most beautiful historical clothing. He consciously places himself in the northern tradition of portraits of standard-bearers by famous artists such as Dürer, Lucas van Leyden and Goltzius.
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[text via codart.nl]