A newly discovered Rembrandt painting depicting a well-known Biblical scene is to be shown in the UK for the first time.
Let the Little Children Come to Me was listed as “Dutch School, mid 17th century” at a 2014 German auction but has since been credited as a Rembrandt.
A technical examination revealed the canvas had largely been painted over later in the seventeenth century.
It was discovered by the Amsterdam art dealer, Jan Six.
Six is a direct descendant of his namesake, who was painted by his friend Rembrandt van Rijn in 1654.
The figure wearing white at the top of the painting, dated between 1627 and 1628, has been verified as a self-portrait.
It has been authenticated by a range of experts including the Ashmolean’s Professor Christopher Brown.
Although the painting does not possess stylistic and technical characteristics generally associated with the young Rembrandt, there are several other clues which pointed to his authorship.
The face of Christ, for example, is virtually identical to that in his Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple (1626).
And the three women wearing oriental-type headdresses closely resemble the figures in Rembrandt’s Musical Allegory (also dated 1626).
It is still unclear whether the over-painting was carried out in Rembrandt’s studio, by an apprentice or at a later stage.
The painting will go on display as part of the Ashmolean’s Young Rembrandt, the first major exhibition in the UK to examine the early years of one of the revered artist.
It will look at Rembrandt’s first decade at work, from 1624-34, and will include his earliest known painting, The Spectacles Seller (1624 – 25).
The Young Rembrandt exhibition will be on at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford from 27 February to 7 June 2020.