Rembrandt van Rijn, Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet (1657). © private collection
A £40 million Rembrandt masterpiece which has hung in Bangor's historic Penrhyn castle since the 1860s has gone on display at National Museum Cardiff in a move described by Ministers as a "real coup" for the flagship Welsh cultural centre.
The Dutch painter's 1657 Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, a wealthy Amsterdam woman, will accompany original etchings and Dutch portraits from the Museum's own highly-respected collection in the Rembrandt in Focus display, running until March.
When the Dutch capital's Rijksmuseum borrowed the piece to mark the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt’s birth, in 2007, the Dutch Culture Ministry gave serious consideration to buying it for the national state collection.
"Next to having the Mona Lisa on loan, I cannot think of any better must-see attraction that we could possibly have in the National Museum," said First Minister Rhodri Morgan.
"Having the opportunity to display the Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet is a real coup. I know that many thousands will want to visit the Museum to enjoy the sight of this portrait in our National Museum in our capital city."
The Welsh Assembly Government has subsidised the costs of the exhibition, allowing the Museum to offer free entry for visitors.
"There are very few privately owned paintings by Rembrandt in the UK, the Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet one of these," said Keeper of Art Oliver Fairclough.
"We are grateful to the Trustees of Penrhyn Settled Estates for allowing us to share this masterpiece, which is usually central to the displays at the Castle."
Open until March 21 2009.