The Rothschild family signed a letter of intent on Wednesday to sell the Dutch government a Rembrandt self-portrait for 150 million euros ($170 million), the culture ministry said.
The Dutch master’s “The Standard-Bearer” will be “in Dutch hands for the first time” if parliament backs the initiative, culture ministry spokesman Michiel Hendrikx told AFP, adding that he is confident of the support of MPs.
“It’s a unique opportunity” to acquire a last Rembrandt of such calibre, he added, expressing satisfaction that the Netherlands had “managed to seize it”.
Paris had said Tuesday that it would allow a sale on the open market even though the work, which is valued at 165 million euros, is classed as a “national treasure” in France.
If the Dutch parliament approves the 150 million euros of public cash, the Rembrandt Association would add 15 million euros to the pot and the Rijksmuseum fund 10 million.
“‘The Standard-Bearer’ is one of Rembrandt’s absolute masterpieces and inextricably tied to the history of the Netherlands,” the culture ministry in The Hague said in a statement.
The work “was in private hands for centuries, including the king of England and since 1844 the Rothschild family,” it added.
Rembrandt was 30 when he painted the work in 1636.
“‘The Standard-Bearer’ is coming home for good after a journey of several centuries,” Netherlands culture minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said in the statement.
Taco Dibbits, director of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, which hosts 22 of Rembrandt’s roughly 340 paintings, said that “we have been dreaming for generations of bringing ‘The Standard-Bearer’ to our country.”
“The quality and the fact that this painting marks Rembrandt’s breakthrough as an artist make it an unmatched work from the master,” he added. — Agence France-Presse