Small wooden painting possibly by Rembrandt

A small painting made on a wooden panel from 1630 is possibly still by Rembrandt. Research has shown that the wood comes from the same oak tree as an earlier work by the Grand Master.

The work Head of a bearded man was assessed by the leading Rembrandt Research Project in the 1980s. However, according to the research group it was not a real Rembrandt.

The work was then kept in the depot of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for many years. Until in 2015 An Van Camp became curator of the museum and the small wooden panel was further investigated.

Van Camp has always suspected that the panel from her museum in Oxford may have come from Rembrandt, or at least from his ‘school’. “This is exactly what Rembrandt does,” she says to The Guardian. “He paints the heads of old men with melancholy and recessed thoughts, on small wooden panels. That’s typical Rembrandt in 1630, when he was working in Leiden.”

Van Camp had the work examined by Peter Klein, a specialist in year rings in wood. His research showed that the wooden panel comes from the same oak tree as Rembrandt’s Andromeda, which hangs in the Mauritshuis in The Hague, and from the wood on which Portrait of an old woman was painted by Jan Lievens. The mother of Rembrandt is said to have been depicted on it. Both works were made in 1630, when both Lievens and Rembrandt worked in Leiden.

Whether this is proof that it really is a Rembrandt needs further investigation. “It’s very exciting,” says Van Camp.