Rembrandt Discovered in Bathroom Cabinet

Lately there have been some connections between bathrooms and the discoveries of great/important art. Yep – I’m not kidding. Remember the couple that discovered a Raphael copy in their apartment? They found the copy after they decided to build a new bathroom in their home. And now, once again, the bathroom comes into play for another discovery:

The History Blog posted today about a Rembrandt etching that was discovered in the back of a bathroom cabinet (see above). Father O’Connell, president of the Catholic University of America (Washington, DC) found this etching in the bathroom of his office – he was looking for paper towels and ended up discovering a much older (and non-utilitarian) piece of paper. No one is sure how the etching ended up in the cabinet.

The etching was appraised and authenticated as a Rembrandt last year. This week, Catholic University of America opened a new exhibition which features this new discovery. The exhibition will be open until the May 24th.

This story sounds so bizarre – who would shove a Rembrandt in a bathroom cabinet? All I can say is, I’m positive that there’s nothing that significant in my bathroom.

  • heidenkind says:

    HOW WEIRD. So someone just stuck the print in this cabinet and no one notice until that guy was looking for paper towels?

  • e says:

    That brings up a good point — HOW DO THESE THINGS END UP IN SUCH ODD PLACES?

    Has anyone ever written an article examining why these priceless pieces of work end up in such crazy places?
    I like to think of all the ways it's happened over history — maybe people were hiding them for safekeeping (or because they stole them?) and never told anyone before they died. Or, maybe, the places these art pieces end up in used to be something great and then were remodeled over time from a beautiful art studio to a bathroom. It's kind of fun to think about.

    Also, I'm pretty excited that this is on display at Catholic University. I'm going to read on their website and see if it costs to get in. If it's free, I'll have to head up to that part of town and check it out.

    Have you been to Catholic University? Interestingly enough, it's kind of nestled right in the middle of some ROUGH areas. Like, ROUGH. But, the good thing about going to see this is that there is a whole lot of graffiti all over place in that area. So, I'll feel like I'm seeing ALL kinds of art in addition to the Rembrandt!

  • Breanne says:

    yikes, I am going to go check out my bathroom…

  • M says:

    Yeah, the story is really weird. My mind started wandering like you, e, and I wondered if maybe this etching was stolen. So far, no one has come forward or made that claim…but the whole thing is really bizarre.

    Breanne, if you find anything in your bathroom, let me know before you do anything else! I'll jump on a plane and be there when you make your public announcement. I totally want to jump on this bathroom/art discovery bandwagon.

  • M says:

    BTW, e, if you go see the exhibit, will you take some pictures of the graffiti along the way (as long as you feel safe doing so)? I want to better visualize the type of "art" that surrounds the Rembrandt exhibit. 😉

  • ixoj says:

    ha! that's very strange.

  • kashurst says:

    These kinds of things only happen on the East Coast. Never over here in the west!

  • LHZ says:

    This reminds me of the case of the bronze Chellini Madonna by Donatello that was found in the American Embassy (I think in London)where it was being used as an ashtray. John Pope Hennessy recognized it as a Donatello and it is now displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

  • M says:

    Wow, LHZ, I never knew that story about the Chellini Madonna. How crazy! After seeing your comment, I read a little bit about the discovery on the Victoria and Albert Museum website (if anyone is interested, see here. Boy, I'm glad that sculpture isn't being used as an ashtray anymore.

    It's mind-boggling how significant works of art can end up in such strange places.

  • e says:

    I went and saw the Rembrandt today.

    I shall write something up about it, but needless to say, I thought it was lovely.

  • M says:

    For anyone who is interested: E posted some pictures from the Rembrandt exhibit on her blog. I think it's especially interesting that there was a letter included with the engraving (which helped to attribute the piece to Rembrandt).

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This blog focuses on making Western art history accessible and interesting to all types of audiences: art historians, students, and anyone else who is curious about art. Alberti’s Window is maintained by Monica Bowen, an art historian and professor.