About Us

14 July 2016

Unique Rembrandt etching to get showing at Duff House

Work of the Dutch master which was rediscovered two years ago to go on display in Scotland’s north east

A general view of the splendid facade at Duff House.

A unique Rembrandt etching showing an Amsterdam preacher from 1633 – which was rediscovered in Edinburgh two years ago and was established to be the work of the Dutch master himself – is to be displayed at Duff House, in Banff.

Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jan Cornelis Sylvius will go on public view at the Georgian mansion tomorrow, Friday 15th July, for 17 weeks.

The rare red ink print was previously thought to be a copy of a print by Rembrandt (1606-1669). However, specialist research carried out following its rediscovery in the Scottish National Gallery’s Print Room, in 2014, led to the conclusion that it is in fact not the work of a copyist, but of the Dutch painter and etcher himself.


Copyright: Scottish National Gallery

Renowned as one of the most skilled printmakers in the history of art, Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn produced at least 314 etching plates throughout his career, dating from around 1626 to 1665. Only 22 impressions from these etchings are known to be in red ink – which were all printed in the 18th century, following Rembrandt’s death – with only five being portraits. This particular work is one of these five rare examples.

Graeme Curran, Manager of Duff House, which is operated by Historic Environment Scotland, said: “This display will showcase a truly unique red ink etching – the only one of this subject that is known to exist – from one of the greatest painters and printmakers of the 17th century and in the history of art.

It’s wonderful that two years on from its rediscovery, people will now have the opportunity to view this rare Rembrandt etching at Duff House. As well as having the chance to find out more about how this particular work was rediscovered, visitors will also be able to take a closer look at this unique artwork while learning more about the artist’s skill and capability as a printmaker.”

Rembrandt made his Portrait of Jan Cornelis Sylvius shortly after moving to Amsterdam from his native Leiden. The preacher and subject of this work was a relative of Saskia van Uylenburgh, who Rembrandt married in 1633. Sylvius became the godfather to their first child and baptised their daughter Cornelia in 1638, the same year he died.

This display is being held in partnership with The National Galleries of Scotland. The Print Room of the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh holds more than 100 impressions of Rembrandt etchings.

Commenting on the Rembrandt etching being displayed at Duff House, Dr Tico Seifert, Senior Curator for Northern European Art at The National Galleries of Scotland, who also rediscovered the etching, added: “This particular Rembrandt print has a fascinating story that came to light in 2014. It had been previously catalogued as a copy, however, I found that all known copies of this print are in reverse and upon further comparisons and speaking with colleagues in Amsterdam it soon became clear that this was an etching by Rembrandt himself and, moreover, that it is the only impression of this plate in red ink.

“Duff House makes for a wonderful setting for people in the north east of Scotland to take the opportunity to view this small, but significant art work.”

Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jan Cornelis Sylvius is on show in Duff House’s marble lobby from tomorrow, Friday 15th July, until Sunday 30th October, entrance to view this unique work is included in the cost of admission to the House and is free for members.

About Duff House:

Duff House is a masterpiece of baroque architecture and one of the most important buildings in the north of Scotland.  It was designed in 1735 by the renowned Scottish architect William Adam and is now a five-star visitor attraction, run in partnership by Historic Environment Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council.  The National Galleries provides most of the artworks on permanent display in the House, including important paintings by El Greco, Gainsborough and Raeburn, and contributes to the regular programme of exhibitions and displays.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • As of the 1st October 2015, Historic Scotland and RCAHMS came together to form a new lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. The new body Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland is a sub brand of HES.
  • View our press pack and keep up to date by registering for media release email alerts. If you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us..

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

2016 is the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design (IAD). Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland's position as an "innovation nation", its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and supported by a variety of partners.

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

Follow Historic Environment Scotland

Twitter: @HistEnvScot | @welovehistory 

Facebook: @HistoricEnvScotland @VisitHistoricScotland


For further information

Grant Thomson 
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct Line: 0131 668 8603
Mobile: 07580 702 611