'Amazing Gift' for Queen's

Thanks to Alfred and Isabel Bader, Queen’s art centre has added another Rembrandt painting to its collection – this time a remarkable, late-career masterpiece that had been privately owned and unavailable to scholars for much of its existence.

Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo, signed and dated 1658, will become part of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s permanent collection. The painting is a significant example of a dated portrait by Rembrandt from the 1650s, and one of the last works from the artist’s late career to enter a public collection.

“I am grateful the Baders have entrusted us with this remarkable work of art,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “This gift distinguishes the art centre at Queen’s as the destination in Canada for the research, study and enjoyment of Rembrandt and his followers, and places the Agnes among the premier university art galleries in North America for the study of European art.”

Over a period spanning nearly 50 years, the Baders – two of Queen’s most generous alumni and benefactors – have donated to the Agnes more than 200 paintings, including two other works by Rembrandt, Head of an Old Man in a Cap (c. 1630) and Head of a Man in a Turban (c. 1661).

Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo will be a centrepiece for the many portraits by the artists in Rembrandt’s circle currently in The Bader Collection at the Agnes. I’m truly grateful to Alfred and Isabel Bader for their vision in shaping this collection, and for this amazing gift,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes. “Across the university, researchers from many disciplines, from art and art history to psychology, business, theatre and medicine will take advantage of access to this painting. Most of all, we’ll treasure this piece for its extraordinary quality, and as an example of the highest aspiration of painting, which is to capture the human spirit.”

The Agnes is currently preparing Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo for installation. The painting will be unveiled to the public in May 2016.

“This painting is a dazzling demonstration of the artist’s signature ruwe, or rough, style, embodying the painterly brilliance so associated with Rembrandt’s late work. It also beautifully demonstrates the artist’s consummate skill in capturing the psychological presence of his subjects,” says Dr. Jacquelyn N. Coutré, Bader Curator and Researcher of European Art at the Agnes.

The Baders’ most recent gift is a significant contribution to Queen’s Initiative Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university’s history. The campaign seeks to nurture a supportive campus community, enhance the student learning experience, and secure a global reputation in discovery and inquiry.

When asked about the motivation for his generous gift, Dr. Bader explains, “It is the best Rembrandt in Canada, and Queen’s is the best university in Canada. It is very fitting.”

Alfred Bader (Sc’45, Arts’46, MSc’47, LLD’86) and Isabel Bader (LLD’07) are among Queen’s most generous benefactors, supporting the university for seven decades. They have given back to Queen’s in countless ways: transforming the campus, enriching the student experience, supporting scholarship, and helping to enhance the university’s reputation as a top-tier educational institution. In an extraordinary philanthropic gesture, the couple funded Queen’s purchase of a 15th century English castle – Herstmonceux – that has been meticulously restored and is now home to the Bader International Study Centre. Last year, the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts opened, thanks to another transformational gift from the Baders.