Rembrandt comes to Queen’s

Agnes is home to third Rembrandt painting

Agnes curator Jacquelyn Coutré.
Agnes curator Jacquelyn Coutré.
Supplied by Agnes Etherington Art Centre

On Dec. 1, Principal Daniel Woolf announced that the Agnes Etherington Art Centre has received another Rembrandt painting to add to the Bader Collection. 

The collection already contains two Rembrandt character studies, which had already made them the only art gallery in Canada with more than a single work by the artist. Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, a 17th-century Dutch painter, is renowned as one of the great European painters. During his lifetime, he produced hundreds of portraits and character studies.

Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo, the third Rembrandt painting to find a home at Queen’s. (Photo supplied by Agnes Etherington Art Centre)

The painting, titled Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo (1658), was donated by Drs. Alfred and Isabel Bader. Alfred Bader graduated from Queen’s, and he and his wife Isabel Bader have since become two of the University’s most generous benefactors.  

Dr. Alfred Bader (Sc ’45, Arts ’46, MSc ’47, LLD ’86) and Dr. Isabel Bader (LLD ’07) have donated approximately 200 paintings to the Agnes, including the three Rembrandts. 

“[Alfred Bader] is so dedicated to bringing the study of art first hand to students,” Jacquelyn Coutré, the curator of the Bader Collection at the Agnes, said.

The new portrait joins two other Rembrandt’s in the Bader Collection, Head of a Man in a Turban and Head of an Old Man in a Cap. Both paintings are character studies — artwork that depicts the personality and individual characteristics of subjects — rather than portraits, which focus more on physical appearance.

“We’re very fortunate to have examples of his very early work and his late work,” Coutré said. “You can trace [Rembrandt] on a visual timeline of how he evolves and how his students respond to him.”

Coutré said the portrait provides a new context for the rest of the collection, as it’ll give a sense of Rembrandt’s influence on his students.

“Many of [the other paintings in the collection] are portraits by students of Rembrandt. [Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo] gives a context to those other portraits done in the orbit of the artists.”

Although the Rembrandt paintings will be a major resource for the Art History department, Coutré said the collection will have a broader role at the university. She said even nursing students can benefit from the collection.

“They come in and spend some time looking at the paintings and honing their observation and communication skills by describing what they’re seeing, so they can further articulate the symptoms that they are observing in their patients.”

The piece will be on display starting May 2016. It will be part of the 200-piece Bader Collection in the Agnes, which includes the other two Rembrandts.

— With files from Victoria Gibson


December 5, 2015

While the Bader family has donated around 200 paintings to Queen's, Dr. Alfred Bader was not involved in the arts as an undergraduate student at Queen's.

Isabel Bader did not graduate from Queen's, although she did receive an honorary degree in 2007.

Inaccurate information appeared in the Dec. 3 issue of The Journal.

The Journal regrets the error.

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