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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 deattributions 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 (i.e. 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. (Take note of the video and the maquette image).

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 compartmentalised. 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 1:00 pm). 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.

The advert for my talk at the Wallace Collection