Rare Rembrandt sells for $25.8M


NEW YORK (AP) – A rare late work by Rembrandt depicting the Apostle James in prayer was sold Thursday for $25.8 million, the auction house said.

“Saint James the Greater,” painted by the artist in 1661, was described by the vice chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master paintings, George Wachter, as ” one of the most important works by Rembrandt that Sotheby’s has ever handled.” The painting was purchased by an anonymous telephone bidder, Sotheby’s said. It measured 36 inches by 20 inches.

es, had been in the collection of Stephen Carlton Clark, the grandson of the founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company and brother of Sterling Clark, founder of The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass.

It recently was donated to a foundation that consigned it for sale, Sotheby’s said.

The painting’s presale estimate was $18 million to $25 million.

The work, offered as part of an old masters sale, is from a group of single figure half-length “portraits” of religious figures Rembrandt painted in the late 1650s and early 1660s.

It shows the patron saint of pilgrims with his hands clasped in prayer. His face is weathered and sad, and a wooden staff rests against a wall beside him.

“The hands of the apostle are particularly moving,” Wachter said in a statement. “The gradations of color, browns and grays, are absolutely breathtaking.”

Its early provenance includes Sir John Charles Robinson, the first curator of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, who owned it in the 19th century, and the renowned German collector Edmund Friedrich Weber.

At the turn of the 20th century, it was purchased by the automobile magnate John North Willys of Toledo, Ohio, and later by the theater producer “Broadway” Billy Rose. The Clark family acquired it in 1955.

“Saint James the Greater” recently was shown in exhibits at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Staatliche Museum in Berlin.

On the Net: www.sothebys.com

AP-ES-01-25-07 1255EST