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Rembrandt's The Shipbuilder and his Wife arrives in Hull

Release date: Saturday, 1 April 2017

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The first of five exceptional works of art from the Royal Collection has gone on display at Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, to mark the start of a five-year partnership between the gallery and Royal Collection Trust. On loan during the year that Hull is UK City of Culture, Rembrandt's The Shipbuilder and his Wife will be on show from 1 April until 28 August 2017, and is the first ever painting by the artist to visit the city.

Masterpieces in Focus will see a work of art travel to Hull each year from 2017 to 2021, including works by renowned artists such as Hans Holbein and Canaletto, and a spectacular jewel cabinet made for Queen Victoria which was displayed at the Great Exhibition in 1851. The partnership will build on an existing relationship with the Ferens, following the display of the Royal Collection Trust touring exhibition Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration in 2012.

Rembrandt van Rijn's famous double portrait The Shipbuilder and his Wife, 1633, shows a couple identified as Jan Rijcksen and his wife Griet Jans. Jan Rijcksen was a shareholder in the Dutch East India Company and, from 1620, its master shipbuilder. In paintings of this time, married couples are usually shown in two separate portraits, but Rembrandt has created a composition where the figures overlap and their interaction is vivid: we are to imagine that Griet Jans has burst into the room, interrupting her husband with a message which seems to her (if not to him) of the utmost urgency. The work was painted by Rembrandt in 1633, during the height of his success as a portrait painter, when his art was also at its most naturalistic, especially in the depiction of textures and surfaces.

Kirsten Simister, Curator of Art at Ferens Art Gallery, said: 'We are thrilled to be working with Royal Collection Trust again, and are enormously excited that the UK City of Culture year brings a painting by Rembrandt to Hull for the first time. We are delighted to have secured this picture as the first of an amazing series over the next five years which will continue to offer visitors something very special to enjoy.'

Rembrandt's The Shipbuilder and his Wife is at Ferens Art Gallery from 1 April to 28 August 2017.