Rembrandt's Dutch 'Kim and Kanye' back home after 400 years

Visitors look at Marten and Oopjen, two Rembrandt portraits of a wedding couple jointly bought by the Netherlands and France, and that are displayed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, on July 1 2016 (AFP Photo/Koen van Weel) (ANP/AFP)

Amsterdam (AFP) - Almost four centuries after Dutch master Rembrandt painted a young married couple, their two portraits are back home in The Netherlands thanks to a unique joint 160-million euro purchase with France.

Dating from 1634, the portraits show wealthy Dutchman Marten Soolmans, 21, and his new wife Oopjen Coppit, 23, both wearing black with white lace as they mark a year of marriage.

"It's the first time that they are in public hands, and can be seen" by millions of people, the director of collections at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Taco Dibbits, told AFP.

In a historic deal in January, France and the Netherlands agreed to jointly buy the two large Rembrandt tableaux for 160 million euros ($174 million) from the French branch of the Rothschild family -- one of world's the wealthiest and most influential art collectors.

After several months on show in the Louvre in Paris, they were unveiled at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on Friday ahead of an exhibition opening Saturday.

The paintings have been in private hands for almost four centuries, and have belonged to the Rothschilds since 1877. Prior to going on show in the Louvre, they had only once been seen in public in 1956.

Some nine million people have already flocked to the Louvre to see the couple -- dubbed by the Amsterdam museum as "the Kim Kardashian and the Kanye West of the Golden Age".

The Rijksmuseum -- which is hanging the portraits next to Rembrandt's seminal work "The Night Watch" -- hopes millions more will come and marvel at the pictures until the exhibition closes on October 2.

To celebrate the couple's return, entry to Saturday's opening day will be free.

Towering more than two metres (six feet) height, they almost resemble "black and white photographs," said Dibbits, with Rembrandt creating a third dimension thanks to his use of light and shade.

Marten is seen holding a leather glove in his left hand, while Oopjen's belly is already rounded, showing she is expecting their first child.

Culture Minister Jet Bussemaker told AFP the negotiations with France had been "complicated and complex".

But she said she was "very happy with the outcome. I think it's also important to show that, at a time where there is so much instability in the EU, two countries can come together and jointly own paintings".

After the Amsterdam exhibition, the paintings will be renovated and then go back on show in the Dutch capital for five more years, before returning to the Louvre for the next five.

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