‘Self-Portrait, Wearing a Feathered Bonnet’ (1635) will be displayed at Dulwich Picture Gallery as part of the ‘Am I Rembrandt?’ exhibition (8 November – 5 March 2017). The show will explore the lengthy investigations conducted by curators and conservators into the painting’s authenticity. Owned by the National Trust since 2010 it was long considered a work of one of Rembrandt’s pupils. For nearly 50 years specialists had believed that areas of the painting were not accomplished enough for the work to be attributed to the Dutch Master. It was not until June 2014 when the self-portrait was finally verified as an authentic piece following extensive scientific analysis by the Hamilton Kerr Institute in Cambridgeshire.
With the aid of magnification, infra-red reflectography, x-rays, raking light photography and pigment and medium analysis conservators were able to examine the detailed brushwork more closely. They found that the self-portrait was much more sophisticated in its depth of colour and the three-dimensional appearance of the fabric in Rembrandt’s cloak than had previously been thought. They also matched the wood used in the panel and the pigments to those used by the artist in his other works. The most important clue came in the form of the artist’s signature which according to conservators left “no reason to doubt” the work’s authenticity.
‘Am I Rembrandt?’ will showcase the hotly-contested self-portrait alongside a number of the artist’s other works, which continue the theme of attribution and analytical investigation. These will include ‘A Young Man, perhaps the Artist’s Son Titus’ (1663) whose authenticity has been previously doubted and the wrongly attributed ‘Jacob’s Dream’ (1710-15). Once admired as a genuine Rembrandt the latter was later revealed as a work by his last pupil during the restoration process.