4 November 2021



Recovered painting, believed by art historian Timo Trümper to by Rembrandt.

A painting stolen in December 1979 is believed by some art historians to be a previously unknown Rembrandt. The painting was stolen from Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha, in what was then East Germany.

It was one of hundreds of works of art taken from Schloss Friedenstein. Five of the paintings from the 1979 theft have been recovered. The painting is not recorded in any of the Rembrandt catalogues raisonnés.

The five paintings taken in 1979 had all been looted by Soviet troops at the end of World War II and were for some period of time in Russia.

The possible Rembrandt painting of an old, bearded man is severely damaged. Over the years, it was attributed to Rembrandt’s student Ferdinand Bol and to Rembrandt’s contemporary Jan Lievens. There is a Bol signature on the reverse of the painting.

The exhibit’s curator, Timo Trümper, thinks the Bol signature on the reverse of the painting means Bol owned it, not that he created it. Trümper believes the painting of the old, bearded man has substantial similarities to an authentic Rembrandt at the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, MA.

Now the possible Rembrandt and the other recovered paintings are on exhibit at Schloss Friedenstein in an exhibit entitled Back in Gotha! The Lost Masterpieces. The exhibit features eighty art works that have been recently returned to Schloss Friedenstein.

According to Trümper about half of the art historians to whom he has shown the painting believe it may be by Rembrandt himself, while the other think it is by one of his students.

German police think the thief who stole the painting in 1979 took it to a West German accomplice. It remained with that accomplice unless his death in 2016.