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Saul and David

Painting, 1658, 130×164.5 cm

Description of the artwork «Saul and David»

History paintings "Saul and David" from the collection of the Royal gallery Mauritshuis in the Hague is an art detective. The painting, which the Museum acquired in 1898, was originally attributed to Rembrandt, but in 1969 was "demoted" in status and has lost much of its charm. However, in 2015, after eight years of research and restoration experts have returned to her original authorship. But in the process of analyzing a masterpiece, the specialists had to solve a lot of puzzles.

Critics came to the conclusion that the painting, "Saul and David" was written in two stages, from about 1651 to 1654 and 1655 to 1658, the first few years. It is first mentioned in the records of the Paris auction of 1830. The web is then moved from meeting to meeting, while more than a hundred years ago it was purchased by former Mauritshuis Director Abraham Brediusa (Abraham Bredius).

After his death in 1946 masterpiece became the property of the gallery. However, in the late 1960s, an expert on Rembrandt Horst Gerson (Horst Gerson) has questioned the authorship of the painting, which depicts a scene from the old Testament: king Saul, touched by the game of David the harp edge of the curtain wipes a tear from his eyes.

In 2007, in order not to depend on the opinion of one person, the Museum has collected an international team of experts, arming it with all the available latest technologies. The specialists tried to go "reverse" and prove that "Saul and David" was written not by Rembrandt. But each time I am convinced that before them — the canvas of this master.

The researchers were able to see through a few layers of paint that were imposed during previous restorations. It is established that the picture is painted using the original pigments, which Rembrandt painted in the XVII century. The samples showed that the soil on the canvas typical of the Studio of the Dutch painter in the 1650's and 1660's.

Digital studies have shown that the picture for many years been subjected to a number of unusual and mysterious interventions. For example, the canvas was cut into several pieces, then stitched together was the image of Saul and David, and to the upper right corner of the embedded piece of a different fabric. Experts believe that the disappeared fragment could be another character.

The canvas repeatedly repainted, Stripping the dye and its initial size in the past has changed. A masterpiece of ill-treatment in several restoration campaigns.

Experts are faced with a number of other surprises. Looking through the paint, they found out that the painting represents, in the literal sense of the mosaic puzzle. The analysis revealed that it actually consists of 15 different pieces. It's three main parts — Saul, David and pasting from the old picture in the upper right corner — plus trimming all the edges. So this is a real patchwork quilt.

Why the picture in the past been subjected to such executions is not yet clear.
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Literary scene

Style of art: Baroque, The Golden age of Holland

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1658

Size: 130×164.5 cm

Artwork in selections: 34 selections

Exhibitions history