Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum reopened Monday after its coronavirus closure to include a new work in its vast collections.
The piece is a Dutch 16th-century painting by Bartholomeus Spranger titled “Body of Christ Supported by Angels.” The dramatic image of Christ lifted from his tomb by three angels was a gift, and a work that the museum director had quietly coveted earlier at an art fair.
General Director Taco Dibbits told the AP, “This gift came and it was a moment of light.” The museum had been losing about one million euros per day during its shutdown.
Dibbits had viewed the painting in March at TEFAF, The European Fine Art Fair, before it closed early due to the pandemic.
The piece was shown by Dutch dealer and collector Bob Haboldt, who maintains multiple international offices, and it sold early in the fair. When the pandemic took hold of Europe, the sale was canceled.
Haboldt then decided to donate the painting “in memory of the victims of COVID-19, not only those who died but also those who suffered,” he told AP, and to inspire others in the arts. He chose the Rijksmuseum for its large audience.
Dibbits said: “That in a time where there’s so much uncertainty, also for the art market and the dealers — that a dealer decides to donate a work when he doesn’t know where his future is going, I think that’s something very special.”