The piece, titled The Adoration of the Magi (ca. 1632–33), was discovered in 2016 when a Roman family sent the painting for restoration after it fell off a wall and was slightly damaged. The painting depicts a nativity scene wherein the three magi greet the infant Jesus.
The family had thought the painting to be a copy, but restorer Antonella Di Francesco came to realize it may have been painted by the Dutch master himself. On June 22, the French Academy of the Villa Medici in Rome confirmed that the painting was indeed an original at the symposium “Rembrandt: Identifying the Prototype, Seeing the Invisible,” which had been supported by the Fondazione Patrimonio Italia (FPI).
The Roman family that owns the painting was not identified in the ANSA report. There are allegedly new plans to sell the work, which could be worth between $83.5 million and $238.5 million, though the family told CNN reporters that they instead plan to lend it to museums and galleries for public viewing.
The discovery marked an emotional moment for those involved, in particular for Di Francesca, who commented in a separate release by the FPI, “During my work one of the most beautiful things that can happen during a lifetime: the sudden awareness of being in front of a work by a very great author who reveals himself to you, which comes out of its opaque zone and chooses you to be redeemed from the darkness.”
Many of Rembrandt’s paintings have been lost to time, but ever so often, one of these disappeared canvases resurfaces. In 2018, the Dutch art dealer Jan Six claimed to have discovered a heretofore unknown painting of Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Young Gentleman (1635). Then, in 2020, a Rembrandt that as long to be a fake, Head of a Bearded Man (ca. 1630), was re-attributed to the artist. It had been kept in a basement, and was re-attributed to the artist after its frame was discovered to come from a tree felled around the time of the painting’s making.
The new find is the second major piece of Rembrandt news this week. On Wednesday, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam said it had restored Rembrandt’s famed Night Watch (1642), adding back once-missing pieces to the painting via artificial intelligence.