Unknown Lot Could Be Rembrandt

BLOOMFIELD, NEW JERSEY -- A painting catalogued simply as “Oil on Board, Triple Portrait with Lady Fainting” sold last week for $870,000 at Nye & Company Auctions here, against an estimate of $500-$800. The sleeper hit (lot 216), is believed to be a long-lost panel by a teenaged Rembrandt.

The lot was obviously unrecognized by the consignor and the auction house.

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The 12.5in x 10in panel was described by the auction house as “Continental School, 19thC, appears unsigned”, and potential buyers were advised that the condition included “paint loss, some restoration to paint, wood cracks”.

The painting shows an unconscious young woman with a handkerchief (presumably holding smelling salts) held to her nose by an older figure, while a man (perhaps her husband) looks on.

The painting had been noticed by some in the trade and is suspected to be a depiction of “Smell” by a young Rembrandt from his series on the Five Senses.

Dating from around 1625, the pictures are considered to be the very first paintings made by the Old Master, possibly done while still a student in the studio of the Dutch painter Pieter Lastman.

Others from this series are known: The Operation, The Sense of Touch and Three Singers, and the Sense of Hearing are owned by the New York collector Tom Kaplan of the Leiden Gallery, New York. The Spectacle Seller, The Sense of Sight is in the Museum de Lakenhal in Leiden.

At this time, buyer was not identified although the underbidder was a British dealer.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video examines a lost Rembrandt self-portrait hidden under another painting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-oq9tGvtYg&sns=em