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See Rembrandt Laughing at the Kimbell Art Museum

Rembrandt Laughing

Rembrandt Laughing by Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt Laughing
Kimbell Art Museum
April 9 through July 2010

Free Special Evening Lecture with Perry Chapman, professor of art history at the University of Delaware, Newark.

Among the most exciting artistic rediscoveries of recent years, the self-portrait known as Rembrandt Laughing is one of the first and most joyful chapters of the artist’s autobiography in paint. The young Rembrandt painted the work in his home city of Leiden when he was 21 or 22 years old. The painting will be on view at the Kimbell from April 9 until late July as part of the Museum’s continuing “Guest of Honor” series.

A century and a half after Rembrandt’s death, this self-portrait was mistakenly thought to be by his older contemporary Frans Hals and was reproduced as a Hals in an engraving. Some scholars of the 20th century realized it was a case of mistaken identity––that the painting shown in the engraving was in fact a Rembrandt––but couldn’t prove their case because the original was “lost.”

The painting made the headlines in 2007, after the English family who owned it for the past 100 years decided to sell it through a local auction house, Moore, Allen & Innocent. The painting was attributed to “a follower of Rembrandt,” with an estimate of only $1,600–$2,400. Some art dealers recognized its quality and importance, and by the time the hammer came down, the bidding had gone over a thousand times that amount.

Special Lecture

Perry Chapman, professor of art history at the University of Delaware, Newark, will present a free lecture titled “ ‘Rembrandt Laughing’: Passion in the Early Self-Portraits,” on Friday, April 9, at 6 p.m. in the Kimbell Art Museum auditorium.

Over the course of his career, Rembrandt van Rijn produced an unprecedented and unmatched array of self-portraits, including the recently rediscovered Rembrandt Laughing (private collection), on view at the Museum as a “Guest of Honor.” This free lecture focuses on Rembrandt’s earliest self-portraits. Frequently called expression studies, some of these informal images show Rembrandt looking in the mirror and laughing, frowning, or grimacing. Others use dramatic lighting to suggest inner states. Challenging the assertion that these are not self-portraits, Chapman places Rembrandt’s initial experiments in expressive self-portrayal in the broader context of his representation of emotion.

Chapman is the author of Rembrandt’s Self-Portraits: A Study in Seventeenth-Century Identity and co-author of the exhibition catalogue Jan Steen: Painter and Storyteller, as well as numerous articles on Dutch painting, art theory, and artistic identity. Her work has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Kimbell Art Museum

Kimbell Art Museum is open Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Friday, noon–8 p.m.; Sunday, noon–5 p.m.; closed on Monday. For general information, call 817-332-8451. Visit online at Admission to the permanent collection is always free.

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