Is this a real Rembrandt? Experts think it could be!

030920-'Head of a Bearded Man' possible Rembrandt-Meridian
'Head of a Bearded Man' has been installed at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford Credit: ITV News

A painting first thought to be a 'fake' Rembrandt, experts now determine has come from the Dutch Master's workshop.

'Head of a Bearded Man' has been languishing in the basement of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for the past 50 years.

In 1982 the painting was examined and rejected by the leading authority on his work, the Rembrandt Research Project. But this summer, as the museum was preparing an exhibition about the artist, they decided to take another look.

An Van Camp, Ashmolean's curator says: "When I heard about this little painting lurking in the basement, I was very intrigued. So when I first looked at it I thought 'this looks like a Rembrandt'. That is because he was really fascinated by old age, and I think it is because his parents were already in their 60s when Rembrandt became a painter. So when I saw that painting I thought 'that really fits."

It had been sitting in the basement of the Oxford museum for 50 years. Credit: ITV News

Jevon Thistlewood, Conservator of Paintings, says: "Most people will be familiar with the idea that you count the ring of a tree to see how old it is. The dendrochronologist is recording and observing where those growth rings are. Then once they have all their measurements, they are then looking at historical records, trying to establish how this panel fits into a large pattern."

The investigation revealed that the painting had been done on a panel of wood that comes from an oak tree in the Baltics, which is the same tree that was used for a Rembrandt that now hangs in the Hague. 

Experts believe with more studies, they could determine whether this is a true Rembrandt.

The work done so far does not prove this is a genuine Rembrandt, however it does come from his workshop.

The next steps will include x-rays, infrared technology and lots of discussion with experts in the Netherlands to determine if this 'Head of a Bearded Man' was indeed created by the Master's hand.