Friday, December 22, 2006

Goodbye, Rembrandt

On Jan. 25, Sotheby’s plans to auction off Rembrandt van Rijn’s 1661 painting “Saint James the Greater.” Locals may remember it because it was loaned to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts from 1991 to 2005 and featured as “The Apostle James” in the MFA’s 2003 show “Rembrandt’s Journey: Painter, Draftsman, Etcher.”

This late Rembrandt (the artist lived from 1606 to 1669) of the sepia-toned saint, with his eyes closed and hands folded in prayer, was owned by the first curator of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and “Broadway” Billy Rose, among others, before Rose sold it to Stephen Carlton Clark in 1955. That’s the Stephen Clark who was one of the heirs to the Singer Sewing Machine Company fortune and brother of Sterling Clark, who founded The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. The brothers’ passions for art collecting were compared in Clark Art Institute’s “The Clark Brothers Collect” this summer, which appears at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art next summer.

Stephen amassed a major art collection, was a founding board member of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and gave significant works to Yale and the Met. But his Rembrandt remained in the family until they recently gave it to The Shippy Foundation in the Aid of Social Justice, Human Service and Education, which has decided to sell. The painting failed to sell when priced somewhere between $41 million and $50 million (accounts vary) at a Dutch art fair last March. Sotheby’s estimates it will fetch between $18 million and $25 million.
(Photo from Sotheby's.)


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