Visual Arts

What's so funny? Barn-find Rembrandt at the DAM

A tiny oil on copper painting--less than 9x7 inches--was put on display yesterday at the Denver Art Museum in the European and American art galleries in the Ponti Building. The painting, entitled "Rembrandt Laughing," by -- you guessed it -- Rembrandt, was discovered in 2007 at a country auction in England. The piece was once ascribed to Frans Hals, but the Rembrandt Research Project identified it as actually being a Rembrandt based on the almost invisible signature, made with the handle end of a brush while it was still wet, found on panel by experts. The painting is thought to have been done when the artist was only 21 or 22 years old, and it's believed to have been painted while he looked at his own reflection in a mirror.

"This is an incredible rediscovery of a very personal creation from The Netherlands' most famous painter. It's as exciting as discovering a lost Shakespeare sonnet or finding a new drawing by Leonardo da Vinci," said Timothy Standring, the Gates Foundation curator of painting and sculpture at the DAM. "Rembrandt Laughing," which is on loan to the DAM from a private collection, will be on display through November 30. In the meantime, check out the video about it above, produced by the DAM.

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia