Dutch parliament approves purchase of Rembrandt masterpiece

Dutch parliament approves purchase of Rembrandt masterpiece
Photo by J Dean on Unsplash

The Dutch parliament approved the purchase of Rembrandt’s painting “Standard Bearer” on Tuesday, with a price tag of €175 million.

The Netherlands will pay €150 million for the masterpiece and the Rembrandt Association and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will contribute the remaining €25 million, Belga News Agency reports.

In four weeks’ time, the Netherlands will officially own the 1636 painting, said Gunay Uslu, Dutch State Secretary for Culture.

The purchase from the Rothschild family who owned the painting was met with strong resistance during discussions in both houses of the Dutch parliament.

Opposition regarding the timing

Several parties criticised the timing of the purchase, which comes as the cultural sector is still suffering from measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Opposition parties therefore declared it unacceptable that the government was allocating €150 million for the purchase of a single work.

The Dutch State Secretary admitted that the sale could be seen as a bad idea in times of pandemic, but felt that an opportunity that might not come up again shouldn’t be missed.

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Uslu, who used to work as an art historian, said the painting had a “unique style” and was a prelude to Rembrandt’s most famous painting “The Night Watch.”

“It is a turning point in his career,” she said.

The Rothschild family wanted to sell the painting back in 2019 but the French state described it as a “national treasure,” giving itself 30 months to buy it back. It was only when France gave up that the Netherlands was able to move in to purchase.

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