Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities
2008—2009 Forum on Change
Assistant Curtor, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Rembrandt's Image of Jesus
After painting biblical scenes for twenty years, the seventeenth-century Dutch artist Rembrandt changed his image of Jesus in the middle of his career, choosing a young Jewish man as model in nine small paintings, one of them now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This was the first ethnographically accurate Christ in history, an experiment typical of the culture of the Dutch Golden Age. Two panels were installed in his bedroom in 1656; thus, the series marks how Rembrandt thought about change in his own life during his affair with Geertge Dirckx. This series shows Rembrandt’s new ways of thinking about Jesus and a youthful and idealized corollary to his realistic self-portraits of the period.