Home Arts Rijksmuseum welcomes Rembrandt’s 175 million euro ‘Standard Bearer’ with free entry on Saturdays

Rijksmuseum welcomes Rembrandt’s 175 million euro ‘Standard Bearer’ with free entry on Saturdays

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by Rembrandt The flag bearer (1636) was unveiled at the Rijksmuseum today after a national tour following its government-backed acquisition for 175 million euros last year. The museum will waive admission fees on Saturday, June 17 to mark the occasion.

Created when the 17th century Dutch artist had just turned 30, The flag bearer is one of the first paintings made by Rembrandt after establishing himself as a freelance artist in Amsterdam.

The painting is considered the last major work by Rembrandt to enter a public museum by private owners. The owners of the painting range from the British monarch, King George IV, to one of the French Rothschilds, from whom the painting was purchased.

The work was acquired by the Amsterdam Museum thanks to a 150 million euro grant from the Dutch government. Other contributions came from the Rembrandt Association, which donated €15 million, and the Rijksmuseum Fund, which donated €10 million.

The flag bearer depicts the eponymous soldier who was positioned at the front of Dutch troops in the Eighty Years’ War, the war of independence that led to the birth of the Netherlands in 1648. A self-portrait, the painting shows Rembrandt, in historical dress, in the role of standard-bearer, a clear affirmation of his place in the history of art.

At the same time, The flag bearer shows Rembrandt’s ambition to paint a group portrait for the Amsterdam militia, at the time the most valuable commission a painter could receive. Rembrandt succeeded six years later when he was commissioned to paint The night watch. The two paintings will now hang next to each other in the Rijksmuseum.

Rembrandt made about 340 paintings, most of which are in foreign museums and private collections. In the Netherlands there are 44 paintings by Rembrandt, 22 are in the Rijksmuseum.

Although the Dutch Senate approved the acquisition last year, some senators expressed concerns at the time, pointing to its owners’ ties to tax havens and the timing of the purchase during the pandemic.

As a result, the painting first toured Dutch regions before being hung in the Rijksmuseum. According to a spokesperson for the Rijksmuseum, “The visit allowed everyone in the Netherlands to see this masterpiece, without having to travel far. In each province, at least one day, the entrance to the museum presenting The flag bearer was free. Therefore, everyone could also see the painting for free.

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