£35m Rembrandt on display in Cardiff despite fears it would leave UK

“Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet” by the Dutch master Rembrandt has gone on display in Britain after it was thought it might be leaving the country for good.

Concerns were raised after it was bought at Sotheby’s in a private sale in June 2015 for £35m, and the new owners applied for an export license. Ed Vaizey, the culture minister, prohibited its export until February this year in the hope that a British buyer would come forward.  A £12.5m tax concession would have been offered on the sale.

That deadline has long passed, but the new owners have decided to keep the painting in the UK, loaning it to the National Museum Cardiff, in Wales, where it will be on display until March 2019.

The picture is of a wealthy Amsterdam woman and dates from 1657, twelve years before the artist’s death. It was exhibited as part of the Rembrandt: The Late Works exhibition at the National Gallery in London which then transferred to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Dr Christopher Brown, former director of the Ashmolean Museum, described it as as “one of the greatest Old Masters in this country and one of finest portraits ever made by Rembrandt”.

The Rembrandt was acquired by 1st Baron Penrhyn in 1860 and has been in Wales ever since. Speaking to the New York Times, Andrew Renton, the museum’s senior exhibition specialist, expressed his delight that the painting will be remaining in the country. “It’s obviously very exciting for the museum to have a work of this quality on show in the museum,” he said. “It’s also important for us because the picture has a long history in Wales, so it’s part of our heritage.”

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