A Painting Long Believed to Be by a Rembrandt Pupil Is Now a Confirmed Picture by the Dutch Master

Thanks to technical photographs, researchers say the painting has the unmistakable mature style of Rembrandt's chiaroscuro technique.

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Landscape with Arched Bridge (1638). © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie / Christoph Schmidt.
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Landscape with Arched Bridge (1638). © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie / Christoph Schmidt.

A landscape painting at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin that was long attributed to Govert Flinck, a student of Rembrandt van Rijn, is now believed to be by the famed Dutch painter himself.

Thanks to technical photographs, researchers now say the painting, titled Landscape with Arched Bridge, has the unmistakable mature style of Rembrandt’s chiaroscuro technique.

The upgrade in attribution was a long time coming. In 1989, the Rembrandt Research Project undertook a re-examination of the Gemäldegalerie’s holdings, and noted similarities between Landscape with Arched Bridge and Rembrandt’s Landscape with Stone Bridge, held in the collection of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.

The analysis noted the “astonishingly far-reaching stylistic, technical, and thematic similarities” between the two works, and suggested that Govert Flinck must have copied his teacher’s style in great detail.

Yet a new dendrochronological study reveals that, contrary to earlier reports, the Berlin Rembrandt was actually completed prior to the Rijksmuseum’s landscape, supporting the suggestion that it could not have been a later copy.

The painting, which entered the Gemäldegalerie collection in 1924 when it was helmed by Rembrandt specialist Wilhelm von Bode, was then accepted as one of Rembrandt’s autograph landscapes, and was demoted to a Flinck works only later.

Once part of the collection of the Grand Duke Friedrich August von Oldenburg, it failed to sell after his abdication, and passed into the Gemäldegalerie as part of an exchange with the Kaiser Friedrich Museum.

The work is now on view at the Gemäldegalerie in a museum exhibition revolving around David Hockney that also includes works by John Constable and Vincent van Gogh.

With the validity of Landscape with Arched Bridge now confirmed, the number of landscapes by Rembrandt van Rijn stands at a total of eight. The Gemäldegalerie can now boast of holding 20 total works by the artist.


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