"Save Rembrandt from the Experts"
Nigel Konstam Exposes the Errors of Modern Rembrandt Scholarship

Report on Feb 07 Wallace Study Day

Nigel Konstam reports on the Study Day: I went to the study day armed with 100 flyers and many newspapers of the Save Rembrandt Campaign 1991 -2 -3. Before proceedings started I greeted Professor Van der Wetering and asked him if he remembered me he did (but not by name).

When it was his turn to speak he started by saying that there were many distinguished colleagues in the audience but he would mention only one, Nigel Konstam. He went on to describe my appearance outside the National Gallery in 1991, carrying a placard “Save Rembrandt” (he had forgotten “from the experts”). Great publicity; it had the effect of letting the audience know who I was; during the day many came up and told me how glad they were that I was there. He also described the day he and his students had spent more recently at The Verrocchio Arts Centre; in animated but friendly discussion over Rembrandt.

Professor Van der Wetering is an avuncular fellow and much as one might disagree with his works one cannot help but warm to the man. I hope I do not exaggerate when I say he spent half his allotted time showing us photos of himself and his team. When he came to photos of his predecessors he used the terms “Mafia” and “gang” to describe their activities; so the behaviour of the RRP has a long standing tradition! He also told us that in his 40 years with the Rembrandt Research Project  he had only discovered two deliberate fakes. As far as I am concerned, this means that the remaining de-attributions are simply a matter of opinion based on gross misinterpretation.

As he continued lecturing into the lunch break he was cut off by the management still in full flood. Had one hoped for some kind of apology for the havoc being caused by the RRP, one was disappointed, nor was there any attempt to explain their motives for the change of heart.

The other talks were more to the point, excepting the one on Rembrandt and Elsheimer, which however informative and well presented, had nothing whatever to do with the day's business.

After lunch I managed to get in some telling interjections (I had been refused permission to show slides. A history of such refusals is outlined on pages 3 & 16 of The Save Rembrandt Campaigner Newspaper). The most telling interjection was when the two different versions of The Adoration of the Shepherds were on the screen: I was allowed to tell them how Rembrandt often used mirror images to draw from and how very different in quality were those works made from the poor reflective surface (probably polished metal) to those drawn direct from life. The two Adoration paintings were the single example of Rembrandt following the same procedure in painting, producing the same difference in quality. In Van der Wetering's opinion the National Gallery version of The Adoration could not possibly be by the same artist as the Munich version (ie Rembrandt). I was stopped before I could explain why it was none-the-less certainly by Rembrandt - proved by geometry! Nor was I given the chance to show the one slide that would demonstrate the proof. I am republishing the explanation and photo on this website: Take this link.

My defence of two of the three Rembrandt “Regained” paintings (the self portrait and The Good Samaritan) formed part of an exhibition I put on to refute the contentions of the RRP that Rembrandt had a workshop. The workshop is a recent invention for which van der Wetering himself admits there is very little evidence and no historical documentation.

My favourite moment in the Day of Study went as follows-
Questioner:  "Do you study the etchings and the drawings along with the paintings?"
Van der Wetering:  "Unfortunately Art History is very compartmentalized. It is absolutely disgraceful...."
Konstam:  "Hear, hear!"

The upshot of it all was that I was invited to lecture at the Wallace Collection on 9th November 2007 (at 1.00pm). It will be the first time I have been invited to talk at such a prestigious venue since Harvard in 1978!

A very satisfactory day from my point of view.


  • 23:00 - 09.04.2007


    The recent 2 x 60min Channel 4 documentary (shown July 21st, 28th 2007)
    (made by Lion Television) including Nigel Konstam's contribution to our understanding of the art of ancient Greece (the revolutionary demonstration of why we can be certain that Phidias and his workshop used body casts as the basis of there life-size, sculptural compositions) in Part II.

    You can see the whole story in my book;- SCULPTURE, the Art and the Practice, 2nd edition ISBN 0 – 9523568 or, less completely, on the website www.verrocchio.co.uk

  • 10:29 - 24.11.2008

    Take link to see video
    Recent video (Takes only 2 minutes to watch) by Nigel Konstam

  • 08:14 - 16.02.2010

    Nigel's new YouTube Video comments on the Getty Exhibition of 2010 Rembrandt and Bol

  • 09:53 - 12.10.2007

    Click here to watch 5 minute video on the Adoration

    National Gallery Rejects The Adoration

     National Gallery Rejects The Adoration - see video on its web site

    There are two versions of The Adoration of the Shepherds, one in Munich and the second in the National Gallery (London). Both were once attributed to Rembrandt: The Munich version is still a Rembrandt. The London version has been de-attributed by the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) in spite of the fact that the National Gallery experts examination of the materials confirmed that the painting was from Rembrandt's studio. The object of this demonstration is to prove that the London painting is truly a Rembrandt though the RRP insists that this version cannot possibly be by him.

    See Large image

    On the right of the photograph you see a maquette made from the figures and architecture in the Munich painting, that Rembrandt observed and painted direct from life. A cow and a basket also form a part of the composition.

    The reflected part of the photograph you see in the mirror (on the left) matches up with the subject matter of the London painting to such a degree that we cannot doubt that Rembrandt (or whoever else was painting from Rembrandt's precise position) painted what he saw in the mirror. As the use of a mirror can be demonstrated many times in Rembrandt's accepted drawings it is most rational to assume that Rembrandt stayed in the same position and painted both paintings; probably concurrently, with the same palette and brushes.

    It is amusing to note that while the humans are static, only the cow moved: the hats of the figures remain the same, the basket on the post is seen in elevation in the Munich version and in plan in the London version, the lantern is still carried by the man with the broad brimmed hat, lots of tiny details are transmuted but most of all the infinitely complex space relationship between the figures remains constant.

    By understanding the extreme complexity of the task of constructing the London subject from the Munich painting, we can be certain that a mirror was used.(This is no simple print image. It is a reversal of a new point of view of the same very complex, three dimensional group we see in the Munich painting.) From this understanding we not only regain a lost Rembrandt, we demonstrate that the impressionistic style of the London painting is also Rembrandt's. Thus widening the stylistic spectrum that has been imposed arbitarily by the RRP.

    Furthermore it is proved that Rembrandt worked from a theatrical-type production. I believe he set up live models dressed with costumes (mentioned in his inventory of 1656) in the adoration paintings, I believe the scene was staged in a barn. These tableaux-vivants, the very life's blood of Rembrandt's work as artist and teacher, are implicitly denied by the RRP and their followers, who are keepers of Rembrandt drawings in the museums: a fundamental error, which invalidates many of the experts' judgements over the last 100 years.



    Two legitimate questions may arise from this demonstration 1. did mirrors of this size exist in Rembrandt's time? Answer � not made from one sheet of glass � this large mirror was probably made of polished metal. And 2. Why should he work from an inadequate reflection of his models when he had a group to observe direct from life? Answer � Rembrandt was not alone in the barn. There are student versions of this same scene, both drawn and painted, that show that students were working side by side with the master, each with their own individual viewpoint. This would have inhibited Rembrandt's freedom to move himself or change the group of models. Alternatively, it may just be Rembrandt's explorative spirit that drove him to this single experiment, which he never repeated in painting, but many times while drawing.



    If you have doubts please look at the rest of this website before submitting your questions.

    It is my belief that the other end of the spectrum of style in Rembrandt's paintings should also be redefined by testing a painting in The Wallace Collection: The Uncharitable Servant. This painting was once the most highly valued Rembrandt in the world. It has been described as Rembrandt at the extreme limits of his ability, it is not typical of Rembrandt but Rembrandt is a most varied artist and we need to define the outer limits of his variability as precisely as possible. If The Uncharitable Servant, was put through autoradiographic tests this would show us the way the painting had been built up right from the original drawing on canvas, thus establishing a clear attribution. The result of this could be to re-inflate Rembrandt's oeuvres and reputation back to where they both stood 50 years ago. If the London painting turns out not to be a Rembrandt the case for widening the spectrum towards a loose impressionistic style remains imperative.

  • 10:57 - 04.07.2008

    See Nigel's YouTube Contribution to the campaign to unseat Sir Nicholas from his 21 Year reign at the Tate Gallery London. Sir Nicholas Serota Considers a New Aquisition for the Tate Gallery

    Take this link



Current Rembrandt Scholarship....