France Pledges $90 Million to Keep a Rembrandt Painting in the Country

France agreed on a joint offer with the Dutch government.

Portrait of Marten Soolmans (1634) Photo: Rijksmuseum
Portrait of Marten Soolmans (1634) Photo: Rijksmuseum

The French government has announced that it is prepared to pay up to €80 million ($89.5 million) to keep one of two exceptional Rembrandt paintings in the country, after French collector Éric de Rothschild obtained an export permit allowing him to sell the masterpieces abroad.

Painted in 1634, the works depict Marten Soolmans and his fiancée Oopjen Coppit. The paintings have been in private ownership for 400 years and have only been shown publicly once in the last 150 years.

French culture minister Fleur Pellerin told AFP that the government had submitted an offer for which the work would be “exceptionally financed by the Bank of France.”

Rembrandt Portrait of Oopjen Coppit (1634) Photo: Rijksmuseum via the New York Times

Rembrandt Portrait of Oopjen Coppit (1634)
Photo: Rijksmuseum via the New York Times

In July, Pellerin and Dutch culture minister Jet Bussemaker reportedly agreed on a joint offer whereby each nation would buy one of the artworks.

However, last week the Dutch government announced that it had pledged to put up 50 percent of the €160 million ($180.6 million) price tag to buy both artworks with the Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum raising the rest, thereby enabling both pictures to return to the Netherlands.

Now, according to AFP, a joint acquisition of the paintings is being considered again. Pellerin called the arrangement “an innovative solution that would strengthen the cultural cooperation between France and the Netherlands.”

French culture minister Fleur Pellerin claims a joint-ownership agreement between France and the Netherlands is back on the table. Photo: Jens Gyarmaty via FAZ

French culture minister Fleur Pellerin claims a joint-ownership agreement between France and the Netherlands is back on the table.
Photo: Jens Gyarmaty via FAZ

She explained that the display rights of the works would be shared between Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and Paris’ Louvre.

During a radio interview on Monday, Bussemaker said: “It is of utmost importance to us that the paintings, which are now in private hands, should come under public ownership so that they are accessible to the public and remain in Europe.”

The minister stressed that “art belongs to us all collectively,” explaining that it “would be highly undesirable” if the works were to go “to some rich oil nation.”

Dutch culture minister Jet Bussemaker has not commented on the French proposal. Photo: renderoactueel.com

Dutch culture minister Jet Bussemaker has not commented on the French proposal.
Photo: renderoactueel.com

However, she did not comment on the Dutch government’s stance on France’s dual ownership proposal, clouding the future of both paintings in uncertainty.


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