It's an endearing image, especially at this time of year: Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus huddled in the glow of a single candle. But it's not a Rembrandt, experts concluded after taking a second look.
The Rembrandt Research Project, which has been working since the late 1960s to verify all of the works credited to the prolific Dutch master, said Wednesday it is convinced that Rembrandt didn't paint "The Holy Family in the Evening," a beloved oil-on-canvas hanging in Amsterdam's prestigious Rijksmuseum.
Instead, researchers now believe the unsigned Christmas scene from 1645 was done by an unidentified student of Rembrandt who probably painted it in Rembrandt's own workshop -- possibly under the supervision of the master himself.
Though careful study showed that the wooden panel the canvas is mounted on is of the same unique type used by the master, and the words "Workplace of Rembrandt" are etched on the edge of the painting, experts found the fuzzy, diffuse light of the tender scene uncharacteristically emotional for Rembrandt.