Kenwood's Rembrandt masterpiece to be displayed at Gagosian

The Gagosian's new exhibition opens next month and will also include self-portraits by Picasso, Bacon, Freud and contemporary artists including Damien Hirst and Jenny Saville

Rembrandt's masterpiece 'Self-Portrait with Two Circles' (c.1665)
Rembrandt's masterpiece 'Self-Portrait with Two Circles' (c.1665) © Historic England

A 17th century Rembrandt masterpiece that usually hangs at Kenwood will go on display at Gagosian Grosvenor Hill in London as part of a new partnership.

The Gagosian, an international gallery with several spaces including London, will feature Rembrandt's Self-Portrait with Two Circles as the centrepiece of its new free exhibition of self-portraits.

Other artists in the exhibition include Picasso, Freud, Bacon and Basquiat. Their works are joined by portraits of a number of leading contemporaries including Jenny Saville, Urs Fischer, Georg Baselitz and Damien Hirst.

Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now will feature at Gagosian Grosvenor Hill from 12 April to 18 May 2019. 

Kenwood exterior in north London
The portrait will return to Kenwood in north London later in the year

About the partnership

The partnership between English Heritage and Gagosian will be launched at the new exhibition. It will see the gallery supporting the charity and its sites, artworks and artefacts.

Through the partnership, Gagosian will support the conservation of the 18th-century frame for the Rembrandt's Self-Portrait with Two Circles.

There will also be a number of future events involving the two organisations.

Anna Eavis, Curatorial Director at English Heritage, said:

'Working with Gagosian will allow us to create exciting juxtapositions between our collections and theirs.

'We're delighted to be starting with Rembrandt's self-portrait, which usually hangs at Kenwood. It's one of the world's great paintings and - despite its considerable antiquity - a work of extraordinary modernity.'

Behind the painting

Self Portrait with Two Circles is considered to be Rembrandt's best late self-portrait.

Painted when he was about 60, Rembrandt shows himself at work as an artist, wearing a white linen cap. He's holding his brushes, palette and mahlstick, which is used by artists to support the hand holding the paintbrush.

The shapes in the background possibly relate to an attempt to paint the perfect circle. It's believed that Rembrandt's serious gaze suggests his concentration and may reflect his personal troubles as he was struggling with bankruptcy.

The portrait was purchased in 1888 by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh; he later left it, along with 62 other paintings and the Kenwood Estate.

Since 1986, Kenwood and its collection of art has been in the care of English Heritage. In accordance with the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood remains open to the public for free.

After the Gagosian exhibition, Self-Portrait with Two Circles will return to Kenwood. In October 2019 it will be the subject of a special new display timed to coincide with the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt's death.

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