Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — Two unknown and “exceptionally rare” paintings by Rembrandt were discovered in a private collection in the United Kingdom.
The two private paintings, which depict close relatives of the Dutch artist, are expected to sell for between $6.25 million and $10 million at auction.
The two paintings bear the artist’s signature and the date of their drawing, which dates back to 1635, and depict an elderly couple who are related to Rembrandt through marriage.
The two paintings show the wealthy plumber, Jan Williams van der Bluem, and his wife, Japgen Carls, who were from a prominent family in the Dutch city of Leiden.
Their son, Dominicus van der Pluem, married Rembrandt’s relative, Cornelia van Switbroeck.
The couple had only one child, Karel van der Bluem, and is believed to have trained in painting with Rembrandt, and included in his will the artist’s only surviving heir, Titus.
Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd
In 1635, the year the two paintings were painted, the duo acquired a garden next to Rembrandt’s mother’s garden in Leiden.
The experts at Christie’s, which is handling the sale, said in a press release that the paintings are “exceptional, and their line of provenance is almost unbroken.”
The two artworks remained within the duo’s family until 1760, a year after the death of their grandson, Martin ten Hoff.
Then the two paintings were transferred to Warsaw, in the private collection of Count Vincent Potocki, before being placed in the collection of Baron Devry in Paris in 1820, for a short period, and from there to the collection of the first Baron Glenyon, James Murray.
In June 1824, Murray offered them for sale at Christie’s, where they were described in the sales brochure as follows: “Rembrandt – lively and delicate colours.”
Since that sale, the two artworks have remained in Britain in the private collection of the same family, and experts have not known about them.
He did not reveal the identity of their current owners.
In a phone interview with CNN, Henry Pettifer, Christie’s vice-president of international master paintings, said the discovery was made two years ago as part of a “routine home inspection.”
“The two paintings were immediately of great interest,” Pettifer said, adding that their owners were also amazed.
He also said, “I don’t think they looked into it.”
Pettifer told CNN he was “incredibly excited” to see the paintings, but didn’t jump to any conclusions at that point.
Details of the previous sale at Christie’s in 1824 paved the way, and a long period of research followed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where the two artworks were subjected to scientific analysis.
“What is extraordinary is that the two paintings are so completely anonymous, that they are never mentioned in any of the records centered on Rembrandt in the 19th or 20th centuries,” Pettifer added.
The identity of the couple was confirmed by researchers at the Rijksmuseum.
Pettifer told CNN that the “very intimate and spontaneous” nature of the two paintings indicates a close relationship with the artist.
“They are not large official paintings that he was commissioned to paint,” he said. He added, “I think they are among the smallest paintings that (the artist) painted, which we know about.”
The paintings are scheduled to be shown in New York and Amsterdam next month, before returning to London for a pre-sale exhibition and auction on July 6.