Through the patronage of Alfred Bader’s son, the Bader Collection continues to grow.
On Friday, May 3, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre revealed a new painting to the public, Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair.
Painted in 1659 by Rembrandt, the painting was donated by Daniel Bader and his wife Linda to honour Daniel’s late father, Alfred Bader.
For decades before his December 2018 passing, Alfred Bader was a patron of the arts at Queen’s, donating three other Rembrandt works to the Agnes—including Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo, Head of a Man in a Turban, and Head of an Old Man in a Cap.
According to Jan Allen, Agnes director, Alfred gave his son the painting in 2001 because it was Daniel’s favourite. Daniel gave the painting to the Agnes in April 2019, but it was framed and hung for display to public audiences at the start of May.
The piece was painted at the end of Rembrandt’s life and at the peak of his career.
The old man in the painting is unknown, but Allen explained it’s believed he may have been the subject of a character study—the practice of depicting the same figure repeatedly to reveal characteristics and personality.
This subject looks similar to many of the male saints that appear in other Rembrandt paintings, so he may have been the model of multiple works, says Allen.
In this piece, the brush strokes are blurred, revealing the realistic depiction of the man from a distance. Allen referred to this technique as quick motion painting, contributing to the fluidity of the piece.
The blurred effect gives the piece an air of mystery. The subject gazes into the viewer’s eyes, similar to the subject in Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo.
Its technical aspects are similar to many of his other works, but the most notable characteristics of this painting are the result of techniques adopted by Rembrandt later in his career.
The attribute of the donated piece that stands out the most is the person it honours.
The patronage pays homage to the generosity of Alfred Bader throughout the years. His son’s donation will hang in the Agnes indefinitely. “We have no plans to move it,” Allen told The Journal.
The painting’s place on the Agnes’s wall holds a personal significance for the community, says Allen. Beside the framed piece is large text explaining Alfred and Isabel Bader’s past contributions to the gallery.
It refers to their generosity as having “a profound impact.”
The significance of this acquisition reaches further than the Kingston community alone. As this year is the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death, the homage is poignant.
For viewers who wish to see the piece, it’s hanging in the Bader Collection near the Rome, Capital of Painting exhibit.
The tribute will hang with its inscription, reminding viewers of the notable legacy Alfred left on the Kingston and Queen’s community.