Director: Oeke Hoogendijk | 95 min | 2019 | Netherlands
“A unique and intimate behind-the-scenes peek into the exclusive world of Dutch old masters.
Unsurprisingly, films about great painting tend to focus on the painter. But here director Hoogendijk takes her passion for Rembrandt into an exploration of the relationship between the owners of his works and “their” paintings.
Through her encounters with an eccentric Scottish aristocrat, Baron Eric de Rothschild and a philanthropic American business couple who like to “liberate Rembrandts from the private domain into the public domain", using "Old Masters to further the cause... of humanism", Hoogendijk shows that we can discover whether these Rembrandt obsessives are scholarly or vainglorious, timid or competitive, introverted and private, or in need of constant validation.
This art documentary has surprisingly dramatic twists and turns when focused on an individual who tries to find and reveal unknown Rembrandt masterpieces.
Hoogendijk’s central protagonist is Jan Six XI (the Eleventh), a direct descendant of Jan Six (the First), a friend of Rembrandt’s whose portrait was painted by the artist. An art dealer, Six XI is obsessed with a lifelong dream of uncovering “new” Rembrandts.
Sometimes as a documentary maker you strike it lucky. Little did Hoogendijk know that as Six guided her around his world that he would find not one but two possible Rembrandt works.
But Six's little empire comes under attack when he's accused of cheating a colleague, the son of a restorer Six employed to rescue the painting that would make him famous.
Hoogendijk might have expected that Six would stop her filming as his world fell apart.
She could not have foreseen that the Paris-based Rothschild’s decision to sell two Rembrandt portraits would trigger a tough political battle between the Rijksmuseum and the Louvre, provoking a diplomatic incident between the governments of the Netherlands and France.
“In the end, it’s not really a film on Rembrandt,” said Hoogendijk. “It’s about what he does with us. Because he still has a grip on us. It’s like a mirror, reflecting what Rembrandt brings out in people. It could be love, it could be jealousy or greed, and it could be a betrayal.”