A dendrochronological analysis of 1638 Landscape with arched bridgelong considered the work of Govert Flinck, a pupil of the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, showed that the work is most likely the work of the revered teacher himself, Artnet News reports. Researchers point to similarities between the painting, housed in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, and the 1637 landscape with stone bridge, in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Close examination of the works via technical photography showed not only that both paintings were executed in Rembrandt’s mature chiaroscuro style, but that Landscape with arched bridge was probably painted before landscape with stone bridgedespite the 1638 date long attached to the earlier work.
The discovery follows years of speculation as to the creator of the disputed work. A 1989 study by the Rembrandt Research Project noted the “surprisingly deep stylistic, technical and thematic similarities” between the painting in the Gemäldegalerie and that in the Rijksmuseum and concluded that Flinck must have been an astute copier of Rembrandt’s work. The recent discovery that the Berlin landscape was almost certainly painted before the Amsterdam work seems to confirm that Landscape with arched bridge is not a later copy.
The Gemäldegalerie, then run by Rembrandt specialist Wilhelm von Bode, acquired Landscape with arched bridge, thought at the time by the Dutch master, in 1924. It is only later that scholars name Flinck as the painter of the work. Before entering the collection of the Berlin institution, the painting had belonged to Grand Duke Friedrich August von Oldenburg. When the monarchy was abolished after World War I, the painting failed to sell; the Gemäldegalerie received it among a slice of works arriving from the Kaiser Friedrich Museum as part of an exchange. The reattribution of the painting sets the number of landscapes by the famous artist at eight and means that the Gemäldegalerie now has a total of twenty works by Rembrandt.