A young Rembrandt

19 March 2013 - 02:25 By Sapa-AP

A painting donated to Britain's National Trust has been identified as a Rembrandt self-portrait worth £20-million, the heritage body said yesterday.

The painting was given to the trust in 2010 by the estate of Edna, Lady Samuel of Wych Cross, whose property-developer husband was a major collector of Dutch and Flemish art. It hangs in Buckland Abbey in southwest England, the former home of 16th-century seafarer Francis Drake.

The portrait was long thought to have been done by one of Rembrandt's pupils and was credited as in the "style of" the 17th-century Dutch master.

But an investigation led by Ernst van de Wetering, the world's leading Rembrandt expert, has determined it was by the artist himself, the trust said.

The painting features Rembrandt's signature and is dated 1635, when the artist was 29.

Though the painting has been valued at £20-million, the trust, whose mandate is to safeguard Britain's heritage, is not allowed to sell it.