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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #109008: Mystery about a portrait by Rembrandt
    > Other English exercises on the same topics: Speaking | Tales | Making portraits, describing [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - Vocabulary: greeting people - Vocabulary: on the phone - On the phone - Interacting with someone - Describing a face - Dialogue : What time...? - Conditional clauses - Differences between Like and As
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    Mystery about a portrait by Rembrandt

    Self-portrait / Rembrandt


    With the fur collar
    Without the fur collar


    Portrait of a 17th-century servant.



    The woman looks elderly with a stolid and severe face. She is wearing the

    whitish bonnet of a servant but also a luxurious dark fur collar. Why was a woman of her class painted in such a manner?


    When the painting was first received, the experts considered it a Rembrandt.

    Afterwards, they changed their minds for two essential reasons:

    On the one hand, there was a mistake in the way the woman was dressed. Rembrandt would never have painted a servant with a whitish bonnet and a wonderful expensive fur collar.

    On the other hand, Rembrandt would never have made a technical mistake.

    The light reflected on the woman's face seemed to come from the dark fur collar. That was impossible, the dark collar should have absorbed the light.


    They came to the conclusion that this portrait couldn't be a genuine “Rembrandt”.

    However a few years later, Mr Van der Wetering, a well-known expert and a former head of conservation for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, was intrigued by the portrait.

    For this expert, there was no doubt about it. It was a Rembrandt.

    His reasons:


    1. The way the bonnet was painted: the wisps of hair spilling out of the bonnet. (Rembrandt was known for adding these sorts of details).

    2. The portrait's wood panel was the same as the one Rembrandt used to paint his self-portrait, with a hat (1633), which is in the Louvre.

    3. Foremost, the light falling obliquely from behind the servant  left her face in shadows. Only Rembrandt was able to paint that way.


    The expert added: 'The fur collar had been painted and had been added by someone”.

    X-rays tests of the pigment confirmed that the oil of the collar was not the same as the rest of the portrait.

    The fur collar was removed and underneath a white collar appeared.

    It was actually a genuine Rembrandt. The light on her face was reflected off the white collar.


    Adapted from  

    The Case of the Servant With the Fur Collar  By CAROL VOGEL  Published:  New York Times Arts, September 22, 2005  



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    English exercise "Mystery about a portrait by Rembrandt" created by taiji43 with The test builder. [More lessons & exercises from taiji43]
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    1. In that period, a servant Dutchwoman was wearing a

    2. A servant wouldn't be wearing a

    3. The servant's were not correct.

    4. There was another technical mistake involving the reflection of .

    5. Would a dark collar reflect a light on the servant's face?

    6. Rembrandt had added a detail on the servant's face like a

    7. The self-portrait of Rembrandt with a hat (1633) is in the

    8. The fur collar was removed and appeared; This portrait was a genuine Rembrandt.

    9. The fur collar was added by

    10. The tests of the pigments attested to the fact that the oil of the collar was not the same as that of the rest of the portrait.

    End of the free exercise to learn English: Mystery about a portrait by Rembrandt
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