The Rembrandt Secret

The Rembrandt Secret by Alex Connor Read Free Book Online

Book: The Rembrandt Secret by Alex Connor Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alex Connor
Tags: Fiction, Action & Adventure
from the flames.
    ‘But what if she did tell someone? Her husband, for example? Couples talk and exchange confidences all the time. Perhaps she confided in Abraham Claesz when it turned out that they couldn’t have children. Perhaps they argued and he told her that it was her fault that she was barren. Wouldn’t she have retaliated? What pleasure would it have given her to brag about the now famous father of her illegitimate child? Or what if – when she was firmly ensconced in his home and life – she told Rembrandt himself ?’
    Intrigued, Marshall reached out to warm his hands.
    ‘Where was Carel Fabritius by this time?’
    ‘Being raised in Beemster. By judicious planning, Pieter Fabritius was an amateur painter, so Carel’s talent wouldn’t have seemed out of place. And when he reached his teens his father, seeing a perfect opportunity for advancement, entered Carel into Rembrandt’s studio as a pupil. All very neat.’
    ‘When was that?’
    ‘Early 1640s. Geertje entered Rembrandt house in 1643.’
    Curious, Marshall considered the facts. ‘Did she know who Carel was?’
    ‘Your father believes that she did,’ Samuel replied. ‘Your father thinks that Geertje knew only too well that Carel Fabritius was her son. And that when Rembrandt’s wife died, it was the perfect opportunity for her to re-enter the painter’s life.’
    ‘But if Rembrandt knew about Carel—’
    ‘Ah, but your father doesn’t think he did know that Carel was his illegitimate child. Not at first, anyway. He’d probably never even seen his illegitimate son. He would have thought the whole matter was over and done with long ago. Rembrandt was on a high – famous, ambitious and arrogant. He might be very pleased to see Geertje again, and fall back into their old love affair whilst she nursed his young son, but did Rembrandt know that his pupil was the bastard he had with his girl lover? Unlikely. He’d hardly have risked such a scandal by taking Geertje in, would he? To have his own bastard as a pupil? While he slept with the mother? No, I don’t think so.’
    ‘But if Geertje knew,’ Marshall said carefully, ‘God, what a hold she’d have over Rembrandt … Of course, there’s one other big question.’
    ‘Which is?’
    ‘Did Carel Fabritius know who his real parents were?’ Sighing, Samuel sank back into his seat, his spindly legs stretched out on the Long John in front of the fire, his old slippers curling upwards at the toes.
    ‘Has your father never told you about any of this?’
    ‘No, never.’
    ‘Perhaps you should ask him.’
    ‘ You tell me,’ Marshall urged him. ‘You can’t stop now, it’s too good a story. Did Carel Fabritius know he was Rembrandt’s son?’
    ‘Your father doesn’t think so. He thinks that Carel found out later.’
    Marshall frowned. ‘So what’s Rembrandt’s monkey?’
    ‘Not what, who . Apparently there were some letters, written by Geertje Dircx, which corroborated the whole story,’ Samuel replied, smiling enigmatically. ‘Your grandfather left them to your father.’
    Stunned, Marshall leaned towards the old man.
    ‘So why hasn’t he gone public? Why hasn’t he sold them? They’d make a fortune—’
    ‘And create a scandal. Undermine the whole art market, especially in a recession,’ Samuel said quietly. ‘Your father loves everything about the art world, and he’s not the kind of man to set out to destroy the reputation of one of the greatest painters who ever lived.’
    Marshall’s eyes narrowed. ‘You haven’t finished the story. You still haven’t told me who Rembrandt’s monkey is.’
    ‘It’s not my place to tell you.’
    ‘So you just told me enough to whet my appetite?’
    Samuel nodded, his eyes cunning. ‘Ask Owen for the rest. Let him have the triumph of telling you, it might help you both. You said you were staying with your father at the weekend? Well, ask him then. It would take his mind off his worries and he’d love to think you were

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