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The incredible story of a Chinese collector who claims to have a Rembrandt in Ushuaia


Liu Zhijiang bought the work in San Telmo. Experts from the Tres de Febrero University confirmed that the painting dates from 1600. It could be worth more than 100 million dollars.

In "End of the World" a collector claims to have a Rembrandt in his hands.

This is the Chinese citizen, Liu Zhijiang, who is convinced of having accidentally bought

a work

in Buenos Aires that would belong to the Dutch artist or at least would have left the classrooms where his students worked.

The work in question is

"Jacob and Rachel's Meeting at the Water Well"

which would date from 1600, according to the collector.

The approximate date was corroborated by experts from the University of Tres de Febrero.

Rembrandt's works are sold in the world's leading auction houses for figures of around

US$170 million


The "Rembrandt Project" concluded that there are 340 authenticated works by the painter, but there are others that came out of his workshops and belong, in truth, to his students.

The discussion about who did what in this sense is vast and complex.

However, the number 340 is internationally accepted.

Chinese citizen Liu Zhijiang, who lives in Ushuaia, claims to have accidentally bought a Rembrandt in Buenos Aires.

Zhijiang submitted the painting to the Research Center for Art, Matter and Culture of the Tres de Febrero University for analysis.

The work of the experts, who also took care of restoring the piece, concluded that the materials match those used by Rembrandt.

The pigments and fabric were verified to date from the 1600s.

According to the work of the experts from the study center, they identified "pigments with ochres, siennas, earths, oxides, umbers, lead white, bone black."

"Lead white has the quality of being highly refractive, which gives the paintings made with this material optical qualities that no other material provides, by appearing to have more light than they really do, a fundamental element of Rembrandt's painting. It matches perfectly with Rembrandt's paintings," the report explains.

Rembrandt, in an oil self-portrait from 1659. Photo Wikipedia

“The original fabric is made from

tree roots

, it is exactly linen, it perfectly coincides with Rembrandt's time”, he continues.

The study center has not made any public statement in this regard, although the photographs of its work are published on the networks.

Zhijiang would have spread them.

The story of the painting that could be by Rembrandt

It all began, according to the collector, on a walk through San Telmo.

“I was unaware of the value of the painting when I bought it four years ago in San Telmo, Buenos Aires, from a relative.

The work came from Germany.

I have around 300 paintings of European origin, but I did not realize that it could be an original work from the 1600s. I took it to the University of Tres de Febrero (Buenos Aires) to study it, where the painting is still there," Zhijiang told

El End of the World newspaper.

"As the main and most important element in painting, the use of lead white was identified, the first synthetic pigment that was widely used by artists in the year 1600, a fundamental element in Rembrandt's works," adds this Fuegian by adoption who He plans

to found a museum in the world's southernmost capital city

and would have around 300 works by various authors.


tried to communicate with Zhijiang but there was no response.

As far as is known, the Chinese citizen owns the company Prodesur SA. The Argentine fishing firm has been operating in Ushuaia since 1991 and produces surimi on board the TAI AN vessel.

“The original fabric of the painting is made of natural fibers of vegetable origin, specifically linen, and the fabric of the canvas is a taffeta whose density shows that it is a pre-industrial fabric, consistent with the dating of the year 1600 approximately and used by the Baroque artists”, he adds.

The reasons why the work would not be by Rembrandt

Of course, if it were an original it seems unlikely that the restoration would be undertaken by institutions or galleries that are not specialized in the painter.

It is one of the weak points of the collector's story.

Another element that casts doubt on authenticity is the statement in 2019 by Jan Six, the world's greatest specialist in the artist.

“I can confirm that there is no Rembrandt that has appeared on the market in the last ten years that I have not been associated with in some way,” he told the

Dutch Gazette.

The Zhijiang painting portrays a scene from the Old Testament in which Jacob meets Rachel and her father Laban by a well.

Drawing at the MET in New York: “The Meeting of Jacob And Rachel at the Well”.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York has in its catalog a work called

"The Meeting of Jacob And Rachel at the Well"

, a drawing awarded to the Rembrandt School and dates from between 1640 and 1649.

The work in question is done in "pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, enhanced with white gouache, with a pen and brown ink framing line," the MET catalog indicates.

However, the drawing

does not look like a

work in progress

of the painting that belongs to Zhijiang, so it could not be taken as an antecedent either.

For one of the greatest experts in Flemish and Dutch painting, the motif of the painting and its characteristics seem a "little early" within the work of the famous painter.

"I haven't seen it, seeing a work like that does a lot of things, being able to observe the canvas, the painting," explains Ángel Navarro, curator of the National Museum of Fine Arts and one of the leading experts in Flemish and Dutch painting in the country.

“At first it seems to me a very early work.

It is too early for him to have done it between 1622 and 23 because Rembrandt was focused on other topics then.

He still had not moved to Amsterdam ”, he adds.

“The question of the materials and their dating are technical issues that make up a very low percentage 22/23 to give an authorship.

It is complementary, ”he continues.

“The image and the circumstances of the painting are rare, it is also very rare because the artist's catalog has been very well studied.

Much has been said and much written.

It is a bit difficult for it to be a Rembrandt, but I am not going to definitively deny that one can appear

”, He points out.

Navarro relates by way of context that there is a not entirely written history about the

works that were brought from Germany to Buenos Aires when Adolf Hitler was in power


Could this be the case?

In the past, paintings from the Rembrandt School have been detected that were initially classified as false and then their authorship was corroborated.

Although the Zhijiang painting does not appear in the catalogs of the main collections of the legendary painter to which one can have free access.

Rembrandt did paint works whose themes he drew from the Bible such as

"The Raising of Lazarus"


"David Offers Goliath's Head to King Saul"


"Repentant Judas Returns the Silver Pieces"


"Christ Before Pilate"


"The Resurrection of Christ”


Among other artists, the Naples painter Luca Giordano also painted a work that portrays the same moment of Genesis called

"Jabok and Raquel at the well"

and which dates from 1653. For his part, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo portrayed the biblical scene in his work

" The Meeting of Jacob and Rachel at the Well”


Murillo lived from 1617–1682.

There are other examples.

The one about the Chinese collector in the "End of the World" is reminiscent of other stories in which a work awarded to a great master generates debate.

In the Harry Moses documentary

“Who the fuck is Jackson Pollock?”

, from 2006, relate the episode of a truck driver who bought a painting in a warehouse for US$5 and it turned out to be a work similar to those of the famous American painter and that although it did not have his signature, it did contain his fingerprints.

The work was not resold despite the comparisons made by specialists.




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Source: clarin

All life articles on 2023-03-22

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