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Kenwood House loans Rembrandt self portrait to Gagosian gallery - which was accused of selling borrowed art

PUBLISHED: 16:01 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:59 18 April 2019

Rembrandt's Self Portrait with two circles. Picture: Terry Long Imagery/Creative Commons

Rembrandt's Self Portrait with two circles. Picture: Terry Long Imagery/Creative Commons

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A historic painting owned by Kenwood House is to go on loan to a gallery previously accused of selling pieces of artwork it had borrowed.

Rembrandt's 1665 Self Portrait with Two Circles will be on loan to the Gagosian gallery in Mayfair for five weeks from English Heritage.

The loan is part of a new tie-up between the Gagosian, an international network of art galleries, and English Heritage, which runs Kenwood.

It will provide much needed cash for Kenwood, which costs £2million a year to run, and the Gagosian will help with the conservation of the painting's 18th century wooden frame.

It has been supported by the Friends of Kenwood House and the 4th Earl of Iveagh, whose grandfather donated Kenwood and its art collection to the nation.

In 2011, the Gagosian was sued by British art collecter Robert Wyldefor selling him a painting for £2.5million, which had been promised instead to the American Metropolitan Museum of Art by its owner, Jan Cowles.

A year later, Ms Cowles claimed the gallery sold another painting from her collection without her consent.

Hampstead activist Jessica Learmond-Criqui said: “There is a worry as to whether a hard-driving international ultra-commercial US gallery is the best partner for a gift left to the nation, just as there are worries about insensitive events shoehorned into the heritage landscape of Kenwood.”

The piece will be on display in the Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now until May 18. It also features works by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Pablo Picasso.

The painting is set to return to Kenwood after the exhibition finishes, in time for an event in October marking 350 years since Rembrandt's death.

In a joint statement from the Gagosian and English Heritage, Anna Eavis, English Heritage's curatorial director, said: “This partnership will raise much needed funds for the conservation of Kenwood. We'd encourage everyone to see the exhibition – the Gagosian is free for people to enjoy.” The 4th Earl of Iveagh, Edward Guinness, has backed the move.

Christine Mathez-Davey, chair of The Friends of Kenwood, said: “[We] are delighted that Gagosian are supporting English Heritage and through them, Kenwood. This will help raise awareness of Kenwood's magnificent art collection and help attract much-needed funds. [We] will be funding Kenwood's exciting exhibition in the autumn.”

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