Painting Once Credited to Rembrandt Pupil Now Attributed to the Dutch Master

April 1st, 2022

A dendrochronological analysis of the 1638 Landscape with Arched Bridge, long believed to be the work of Govert Flinck, a student of Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, has shown that the work is most likely by the revered teacher himself, Artnet News reports. Researchers point to the similarities between the painting, held in the collection of Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie, and the 1637 Landscape with Stone Bridge, in the collection of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Close examination of the works via technical photographs showed not only that both paintings were executed in Rembrandt’s mature chiaroscuro style but that Landscape with Arched Bridge was likely painted before Landscape with Stone Bridge, despite the 1638 date that has long been attached to the former work.

The discovery follows years of speculation as to the contested work’s maker. A 1989 study performed by the Rembrandt Research Project noted the “astonishingly far-reaching stylistic, technical, and thematic similarities” between the Gemäldegalerie painting and that at the Rijksmuseum and concluded that Flinck must have been an astute copier of Rembrandt’s work. The recent discovery that the Berlin landscape was almost certainly painted earlier than the Amsterdam work appears to confirm that Landscape with Arched Bridge is not a later copy.

The Gemäldegalerie, then led by Rembrandt specialist Wilhelm von Bode, acquired Landscape with Arched Bridge, thought at the time to be by the Dutch Master, in 1924. It was only later that scholars named Flinck as the work’s painter. Prior to entering the Berlin institution’s collection, the painting had belonged to Grand Duke Friedrich August von Oldenburg. When the monarchy was abolished following World War I, the painting failed to sell; the Gemäldegalerie received it among a tranche of works arriving from the Kaiser Friedrich Museum as part of an exchange. The painting’s reattribution sets the number of landscapes by the renowned artist at eight and means that the Gemäldegalerie now possesses a total of twenty Rembrandt works.