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Excitement builds for Rembrandt reveal

Alfred and Isabel Bader, two of the university’s most generous benefactors, donated Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo to Queen’s late last year. 

[Man with Arms Akimbo]
Rembrandt van Rijn, Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo, 1658, oil on canvas, 107.4 x 87.0 cm, Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2015 (58-008) (Photo courtesy of Otto Naumann, Ltd.)

Madeleine Leisk spent last summer helping develop a new exhibition at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre as an Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellow, a program run by University Research Services.

She didn’t know at the time that the exhibition, Singular Figures: Portraits and Character Studies in Northern Baroque Painting, would eventually feature a Rembrandt masterpiece that has been unavailable to scholars for much of its existence.

Alfred and Isabel Bader, two of the university’s most generous benefactors, donated Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo to Queen’s late last year. The Agnes will unveil the painting to the general public at its season launch event on April 29. The painting will be installed alongside the Agnes’s two smaller studies by the Dutch master in Singular Figures, which is co-curated by Stephanie Dickey, Queen’s Professor and Bader Chair in Northern Baroque Art, and Jacquelyn N. Coutré, Bader Curator and Researcher of European Art at the Agnes, with contributions from Ms. Leisk.  

“An image in a textbook cannot replace the impact of seeing a work of art in person,” says the fourth-year art history student. “Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo is a wonderful addition to the European collection at the Agnes and a great resource for European art history classes at Queen’s. The new Rembrandt will offer a unique learning opportunity for students from all faculties.”

Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo, signed and dated 1658, features the artist’s signature ruwe, or rough, style, showcasing the artistic brilliance associated with Rembrandt’s late work. The painting joins two other Rembrandt paintings in the Agnes’s collection, Head of an Old Man in a Cap (c. 1630) and Head of a Man in a Turban (c. 1661). In addition to the three Rembrandts, Alfred and Isabel Bader have donated more than 200 paintings to the Agnes over the past 50 years.

Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo is truly the pinnacle of the Bader Collection, which includes many distinguished Dutch and Flemish works from the Baroque period,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes. “We are excited to welcome visitors and give them the opportunity to discover the ways in which this new acquisition illuminates and contextualizes the other portraits in the collection that were painted by artists in Rembrandt’s circle.”

Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo is a wonderful addition to the European collection at the Agnes and a great resource for European art history classes at Queen’s. The new Rembrandt will offer a unique learning opportunity for students from all faculties.
— Madeleine Leisk (Artsci'16)

History student Jack Pirie has a strong desire to see the painting after taking “The Portrait,” an art history class taught by Dr. Dickey during the winter term. He believes that students across all disciplines – not just history – should be excited about the unveiling of the painting.

“This painting gives Queen’s students yet another reason to be proud of their university,” he says. “Thanks to the generosity of Alfred and Isabel Bader, we can all say that we are part of a community that is home to one the best university collections of Northern European art in North America.”

Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo can be seen for the first time during the spring/summer launch event at the Agnes on April 29. The members’ preview will take place from 5-6:30 pm followed by the public reception from 6:30-8 pm.

Singular Figures: Portraits and Character Studies in Northern Baroque Painting will remain on display at the Agnes until December. Admission to the gallery is free for Queen’s staff, faculty and students. Admission to the Agnes will also be free for everyone as of April 29.

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