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Rembrandt van Rijn was born in Leiden in the Dutch province of South Holland in 1606. He died in Amsterdam in 1669.
With the dimensions 15 x 12.2 cm, the stolen oil painting “Self-Portrait” from 1630 is unusually small. The base material is not linen or wood, but copper primed with lead white, completely covered with gold leaf. The painting was stolen from the Stockholm National Museum on December 22, 2000. It reappeared in September 2005.
The small oil painting was in the possession of Elias van der Hoeven from Rotterdam until it was acquired by Johan van der Marck Aegidiusz at a city auction in 1768. Five years later a Mr. Fouquet received the painting “Self-portrait”, later Comte Duchatel bought it in Paris, then Comtesse Henri Delaborde, then Frits Lugt from The Hague. The painting once again went to a private collection in Vienna, where it was bequeathed to the museum in 1956 in connection with the Rembrandt exhibition at the National Museum in Stockholm.
Rembrandt painted the self-portrait at the age of 24. It shows a concentrated, serious artist, with a slightly questioning look in search of his artistic identity. The very fine brushstrokes are characteristic.
Only five paintings by Rembrandt are known to have been applied to copper, three of them with primed gold leaf like the self-portrait from 1630.
The other two, almost identical in size, are “An Old Woman at Prayer” in Salzburg and “The Laughing Soldier” in The Hague. All three paintings are dated 1630. Rembrandt's early self-portraits are very similar in structure and use of light. All self-portraits have very fine brushstrokes, whose painting technique is a masterpiece, especially in the small self-portrait from 1630.
The art robbery of December 20, 2000 sounds like an excerpt from the script of a James Bond film: several masked people enter the National Museum in Stockholm with machine guns. At the same time, two car bombs explode in another district of Stockholm. As a precautionary measure, accomplices will use nail locks on car tires on the neighboring streets of the museum. The professional diversion maneuver with the car bomb detonation allows the men to steal three paintings: Rembrandt's “Self-Portrait”, Renoir's “Young Parisian” and his artwork “Conversation with the Gardner”. Then the thieves fled with a motorboat.
Together, the paintings are valued at $ 30 million. The number and selection of the stolen paintings suggests that this art theft was a commissioned work. A few weeks later, eight men were arrested. But it took another year for the first painting to be found again: a drug raid by the Swedish police found Renoir's “Conversation with the Gardener”. In 2005, Rembrandt's "self-portrait" was confiscated during an attempted trade in a hotel. Then Renoir's “Young Parisian” reappeared.