Sunday, 30 March 2014
Rembrandt Clothed in Rubens
I was recently in Switzerland and was taken out for lunch by a friend, SH, whom I knew from eternity but haven’t seen for ages.
After lunch and before my flight is due back home I still had a couple of hours to spare. SH offered to take me for sightseeing which I enthusiastically accepted. Shortly after SH discovered that the back window of his car would not close so we took a detour to head to his house in the country to change the car.
Upon entering the house, SH disabled the alarm. I was rather curious, as this would be the last part of the world where one would need alarm for a house. I could not leave this question unanswered.
“Well its pretty safe here but always better to have one, particularly if you have this thing around”, SH replied, turning on the spot light that shone onto a painting hanging on the wall directly opposite the entrance.
“It’s a Rembrandt”, SH added.
You can of course imagine my utter astonishment at facing this masterpiece in a not- so-extravagant house in a rural part of Switzerland.
The portrait was a man in dark garment with a hat, not unlike this one shown to the right here in style, except that it has been in the private possession of SH’s family since the time of SH's grandparents.
“You know how I found it?” SH continued, “in the cellar when I inherited this house from my parents”.
Well people inherit things in their cellars but what I was about to hear next could only be regarded as ethereal.
“I saw this carton box in the cellar marked ‘Rubens’ so I called my parents asking what was inside. My parents said it was a painting by Rembrandt. Of course I asked why the box was however marked as Rubens? They said this was to confuse people so they wouldn’t steal it”.
Yea, a Rembrandt “disguised” as a Rubens. That would surely fend off a few art-thieves.
This, I must admit, got to be one of the most quirky stories I have ever heard.
But Switzerland is not short of quirky people either. SH also told me that he uses a foot reflexologist, who charges sixty Swiss Francs per hour, and who also owns a luxurious safari lodge in Botswana. Being a seasoned visitor to Africa, I sense that this can not be your ordinary foot masseuse. Indeed, she is a major shareholder of a major fortune 500 hundred company and is only worth a few billion dollars.
Only in Switzerland!