From the museum website, 26 July 2011
Rembrandt in America will be the first major exhibition to explore in depth the collecting history of Rembrandt paintings in America. Consisting of approximately 50 paintings, the exhibition will bring together autograph paintings by Rembrandt as well as others thought to be by the master when they entered American collections but whose attributions can no longer be maintained.
While many exhibitions devoted to Rembrandt’s paintings were held during the 400-year centenary of the artist’s birth in 2006, Rembrandt in America will be unique in offering the public a rare opportunity to visualize the evolving opinions of scholars and collectors regarding what constituted an autograph Rembrandt painting over a period of more than a century.
By arranging works in a number of proposed groupings, we hope to empower viewers to develop their own skills in connoisseurship. Furthermore, the exhibition occurs at a time when a heightened scrutiny of “Rembrandt” versus “not Rembrandt” continues to trouble the discipline and significantly affect the art market. As the first major exhibition to take a broader look at the history of Rembrandt collecting and connoisseurship in America, the show will also address the growing interest in the country’s collecting history.
Rembrandt in America not only investigates the overall issue of collecting Rembrandts in America but also the collecting history of some of the works in the NCMA’s collection. In the 1950s Museum director and Rembrandt expert William Valentiner recommended the acquisition of two paintings then thought to be by Rembrandt. Since their acquisition, however, the paintings have been reattributed to other artists. This exhibition will be the first to examine these paintings within the larger context of connoisseurship and collecting Rembrandts during the 20th century. NCMA curator of Northern Renaissance art Dennis P. Weller serves as a co-curator of the exhibition.
The exhibition and its accompanying catalogue will explore the often-controversial issues of collecting and connoisseurship, with a focus on individual paintings where these two related topics intersect.