Unique Rembrandt etching on show at Duff House

Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)
Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)

A unique Rembrandt etching showing an Amsterdam preacher from 1633 - which was rediscovered in Edinburgh two years ago and was established to be the work of the Dutch master himself - is currently on display at Duff House in Banff.

Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jan Cornelis Sylvius is on public view at the Georgian mansion for the next 17 weeks.

The rare red ink print was previously thought to be a copy of a print by Rembrandt (1606-1669). However, specialist research carried out following its rediscovery in the Scottish National Gallery’s Print Room, in 2014, led to the conclusion that it is in fact not the work of a copyist, but of the Dutch painter and etcher himself.

Renowned as one of the most skilled printmakers in the history of art, Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn produced at least 314 etching plates throughout his career, dating from around 1626 to 1665. Only 22 impressions from these etchings are known to be in red ink – which were all printed in the 18th century, following Rembrandt’s death – with only five being portraits. This particular work is one of these five rare examples.

Graeme Curran, manager of Duff House, which is operated by Historic Environment Scotland, said: “This display will showcase a truly unique red ink etching – the only one of this subject that is known to exist – from one of the greatest painters and printmakers of the 17th century and in the history of art.

“It’s wonderful that two years on from its rediscovery, people will now have the opportunity to view this rare Rembrandt etching at Duff House. As well as having the chance to find out more about how this particular work was rediscovered, visitors will also be able to take a closer look at this unique artwork while learning more about the artist’s skill and capability as a printmaker.”

Rembrandt made his Portrait of Jan Cornelis Sylvius shortly after moving to Amsterdam from his native Leiden. The preacher and subject of this work was a relative of Saskia van Uylenburgh, who Rembrandt married in 1633. Sylvius became the godfather to their first child and baptised their daughter Cornelia in 1638, the same year he died.

This display is being held in partnership with The National Galleries of Scotland. The Print Room of the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh holds more than 100 impressions of Rembrandt etchings.

Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jan Cornelis Sylvius is on show in Duff House’s marble lobby until Sunday, October 30. Entrance to view this unique work is included in the cost of admission to the House and is free for members.