THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — After nearly 200 years in a private collection, a pair of small portraits by 17th century Dutch Master Rembrandt van Rijn went on display Wednesday after a long-term loan to the Netherlands’ national art and history museum.
The Rijksmuseum said the portraits of Jan Willemsz van der Pluym and his wife Jaapgen “disappeared from view for almost two centuries, before resurfacing two years ago.”
The paintings, believed to be the last known pair of privately held Rembrandt portraits, were sold at auction this year and given on long-term loan by the family of wealthy Dutch businessman Henry Holterman, the museum said.
"Given my close relationship with the museum and the fact that the team of experts has been conducting research into these portraits over a period of years, I feel that these works belong in the museum," Holterman said in a statement.
The museum said that based on their small size and “dynamic, sketchy style,” the portraits likely were painted by Rembrandt as a favor to the couple, who had close links to his family since Jan and Jaapgen’s son Dominicus married the painter’s cousin, Cornelia Cornelisdr van Suytbroek.
Rijksmuseum Director Taco Dibbits welcomed the loan and said the portraits "will bring visitors closer to Rembrandt's family circle.”
Researchers at the museum worked to establish that Rembrandt painted the portraits, which measure about 20x16.5 centimeters (8x6 inches), using high-tech scans and paint analysis.
“When taken together, the various research results amount to compelling evidence,” the museum said.
The portraits were hung alongside other works by Rembrandt.