Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus


Supper at Emmaus, c. 1629
An exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art shows how the great Dutch painter arrived at a new, more intimate image of Christ in the 1640s. Earlier in his career, Rembrandt was more given to turbulent scenes from the Gospel, full of sharp light and emphatic gestures, as when he first attempted to depict the "Emmaus" episode from the New Testament in a painting that appeared only in the first venue of this exhibition, the Louvre. Going for maximum drama, he rendered Christ as a dark silhouette against blazing light, while a disciple, recognizing for the first time that his mysterious dinner companion is the risen Christ, stares at him in pop-eyed astonishment.

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