Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, 1634 Oil on canvas. Joint purchase by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of France, Rijksmuseum Collection/ Musée du Louvre Collection, 2016
Early this year the two Rembrandt portraits were bought together by the Netherlands and France, a unique event. From 2 July to 2 October 2016 Marten & Oopjen will have a place of honour alongside The Night Watch. The paintings will then be restored at the Rijksmuseum.
Rembrandt painted the marriage portraits of the newly-weds Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit in Amsterdam in 1634, when he was twenty-eight. The portraits, more than two metres high, remained in private hands for almost four centuries. The meticulous rendering of the opulent costumes, the vitality of the figures and the subtle use of light in these paintings place them among his greatest masterpieces. The portraits are also a milestone in Dutch history, marking the rise of the ambitious young Dutch Republic in the Golden Age. The fact that these two citizens of Amsterdam posed for their portraits in regal style, wearing the most magnificent outfits in the latest French fashion, says much about their pride and affluence and about the emergence and pretensions of the young republic. Until then life-sized portraits of people standing were the prerogative of monarchs and the nobility. They were Rembrandt’s first life-sized, full-length painted pendant portraits – and the only ones he would ever make.
Wim Pijbes, General Director Rijksmuseum, said: What no one thought possible is now reality: the most wanted and least exhibited Rembrandts in the world, in the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum in turn, in the public domain and within everyone’s reach.
The two portraits were purchased jointly by the Netherlands and France for €160 million at the end of January 2016. Thanks to this joint purchase the masterpieces are now in the public domain and can be seen by everyone in the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum in turn. From 10 March to 13 June 2016 they are being exhibited in the Louvre amid great public interest and from 2 July they can be seen in the Rijksmuseum for three months. On 2 October the portraits will be removed to the Rijksmuseum’s conservation workshop for restoration. They will then be shown in the Rijksmuseum for three months, followed by three months in the Louvre. After that they will be on display in the Rijksmuseum for five years and then five years in the Louvre. Thereafter they will be exhibited in the Rijksmuseum and the Louvre alternately for eight years at a time. The two museums have agreed that the paintings will always be shown together.
For the occasion, the Rijksmuseum is opening its doors from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to welcome Marten & Oopjen to the Netherlands and give everyone a chance to admire these masterpieces.