Rare Rembrandt Self-Portrait Could Fetch $20 Million at Auction

Antony Jones/Courtesy Sotheby's

The masterpiece will be part of Sotheby's first cross-category evening sale this July.

While auction houses had to change the dates of their sales due to COVID-19, the newly scheduled auctions are set to be pretty incredible. Sotheby’s, for example, just announced their lots for the upcoming July cross-category evening sale, which includes a rare Rembrandt self-portrait. 

The stunning painting was created during the 1630s, while the 26-year-old artist was living in Amsterdam. In the picture, he depicts himself wearing a black felt hat and white collar to appear part of the upper class. The reason, according to Sotheby’s, is that Rembrandt wanted to impress his future in-laws, or used it as an example of commission work. It’s one of only three known self-portraits, and experts believe it was likely completed in just one day.

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“Painted self-portraits by Rembrandt are the rarest of the rare,” George Gordon, Sotheby’s co-chairman of Old Master paintings worldwide, told Art Market Monitor. “This one is painted with the visceral energy and sureness of touch that we associate with the greatest artist of the Dutch Golden Age.”

Antony Jones/Courtesy Sotheby's

The work has a detailed provenance with the most recent owner purchasing it in 2005 from Dutch dealer Noortman Master Paintings. But, this is the first time it has been up for auction since 1970 when Sotheby’s sold it to a Paris collector.  “Because most of them are in museums, Rembrandt paintings come to the market rarely, and self-portraits, almost never,” Gordon said. 

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Another Rembrandt, Self-Portrait with Shaded Eyes, hit the auction block in 2003 at a Sotheby’s London selling for $11.3 million. This exceeded the initial estimates of $6.5 million to $9.8 million, proving the artist’s works are still in demand. 

Antony Jones/Courtesy Sotheby's

The sale will take place on July 28, and the painting is expected to fetch $15 million to $20 million. Other Old Masters, Impressionists, and British modern and contemporary artists will also be part of the sale.