Office of Advancement
Office of Advancement

The BadersFirst it was a 15th-century English castle, then it was a world-class performing arts centre. Now Alfred (Sc’45, Arts ’46, MSc’47, LLD’86) and Isabel Bader (LLD’07) continue their legacy of landmark donations to Queen’s with the gift of a storied work by one of the world’s most celebrated painters.

Thanks to another generous gift from the Baders, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre is poised to welcome Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo, a 42 x 34-inch oil-on-canvas painting by Rembrandt.

Painted in 1678, Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo is one of Rembrandt’s last paintings. It has spent most of its existence in private collections and has only recently been exhibited publicly. Previous owners include Columbia University, the heirs to the A&P and Johnson & Johnson empires, and more recently, casino mogul Steve Wynn.

An avid collector of Baroque-era Dutch and Flemish art, Alfred Bader has had his eye on Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo for several years. He believes Queen’s is an ideal home for the painting. “It is the best Rembrandt in Canada and Queen’s is the best university in Canada,” he says. “It is very fitting.”

After graduating from Queen’s in 1947, he completed a Ph.D. at Harvard.  In 1951 Dr. Bader founded the -Aldrich Chemical Company, now Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, a company that makes specialty chemicals used in universities and laboratories around the world.

His generosity to Queen’s spans seven decades. Last year, the Baders donated 68 Baroque paintings to the Agnes, solidifying the gallery’s reputation as a North American hub for European art. “The rest of the collection feeds around Rembrandt’s practice -- the people who taught him, the people he taught, his collaborators, and his competitors,” says Agnes Director Jan Allen.  “This painting will be the pinnacle of the collection.”

The Bader Collection also includes two smaller portrait studies by Rembrandt.  With the acquisition of Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo, Queen’s becomes the only university in Canada to house three Rembrandt originals.

Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo will be available for viewing at the Agnes in the spring.