Rembrandt's Jesus illuminates Philly

A Dutch master's rare images of Jesus call up biblical and cultural history.

Washington, September 20 – The 17th century Dutch master painter Rembrandt van Rijn may have given the world some of it’s most popular and enduring images of Jesus Christ, and several of his works are at thePhiladelphia Museum of Art through October. The exhibition contains rare paintings that have not been assembled together since 1656, and some are in the U.S. for the first time. 

“Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus,” an exhibition of 22 paintings, 17 drawings and nine prints from public and private collections in Europe and the U.S., explores Rembrandt’s changing depictions of Jesus’ image over the artist’s decades of output.  

Though he painted at the beginning of his career a more traditional Jesus with pale skin, high forehead and flowing hair – an image which dominated Christian iconography and art for a millennium - Rembrandt offered up a clearly Jewish Jesus in later works.

Scholars believe this evolution may have emerged from the artist’s interaction withAmsterdam’s Jewish community of the day.  

Rembrandt is considered one of the most prolific painters of biblical subject matter, and the exhibition has several choice examples of what he and his pupils left form their work from 1643 through 1655. Included is The Supper at Emmaus (lent by the Louvre) and The Woman Taken in Adultery.

Admission to the “Faces” exhibition is by timed ticket and prices range from $12 for children through age 12, to adult general admission at $25. Museum “conversation” events are on the late September and October museum schedule, including one on Sunday, October 9th about the Sephardic Jews in Amsterdam at the time of Rembrandt. The event will be co-presented by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Museum of American Jewish History, one of the city’s newest museums on Independence Mall. 

Read more of Ruth Hill’s travel columns at Contemporary Christian Travel in the Washington Times Communities.


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Ruth Hill

Ruth Hill writes for magazines and newspapers about the business and pleasures of travel. Read more about her views and news of Christian heritage travel around the world at

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