Rembrandt—the mere mention of his art nowadays raises the issue of authenticity. As famous paintings have been withdrawn from the canon of his autograph work, journalists have played up the sensational news with stories of fakes or lost monetary value. The public, for which the very name Rembrandt has been synonymous with the word masterpiece, may well be perplexed about the processes by which the master's authorship can be established. The purpose of the present exhibition is to demystify the kind of research that goes on at a museum like the Metropolitan by demonstrating the different approaches that art historians and art conservators take in reaching their conclusions.
The Metropolitan Museum possesses one of the most significant groups of paintings, drawings, and etchings by the master, his pupils, and imitators—about eighteen paintings ascribed by common consent to Rembrandt, and about twenty-five that were once thought to be by him but are now recognized as works by pupils, followers, or, in a few cases, later imitators, as well as a large number of authentic drawings and etchings along with some problematic examples in these media. We have, therefore, limited the exhibition to the Museum's holdings. This has permitted us to focus more closely upon the works presented than would have been possible with loans from other museums.