Detroit Institute of Arts to Present “Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus”

artwork: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn - "The Supper at Emmaus", 1648 - Oil on mahogany panel, 26 3/4 x 25 9/16 inches (68 x 65 cm). Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus, at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) from Nov. 20th, through February 12, 2012, brings together for the first time many of Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn’s finest paintings, prints and drawings that portray Jesus and events described in the Bible. The exhibition has been organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Musée du Louvre and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  The exhibition of 64 works includes approximately 52 small, intimate paintings, prints and drawings by Rembrandt and his students that illustrate how Rembrandt broke from traditional 17th-century representations of Jesus. In addition to the organizers, works come from more than 30 lenders, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Metropolitan Museum in New York, the British Museum, and the National Gallery in London.

artwork: Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch; Head of Christ, 1648/1650, Oil on oak panel.

Western portrayals of Jesus in the 17th-century were based on ancient Greek sculpture and Renaissance imagery, and represented him as either heroic in action or as the embodiment of profound suffering. Rembrandt’s own initial renderings of Jesus conformed to this tradition.

In the 1640s, Rembrandt developed a radically different concept. He was the first Western artist to present Jesus as Jewish, likely based on models from Amsterdam’s vibrant Jewish neighborhood where he lived and worked. Additionally, he depicted Jesus as vulnerable and humble, one whose existence compelled reverence in the minds and imaginations of those around him. In Rembrandt’s art, Jesus became an object of meditation not because of his suffering, but through his presence as an affirmation of goodness and a source of deep spiritual inspiration.

“Rembrandt’s images were a bold departure from traditional renderings of Jesus by Western artists—both of his time as well as before and well after him,” said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. “Visitors will have a rare opportunity to see how Rembrandt developed this image and how he employed his famous ‘chiaroscuro’—light and shadow—to profound spiritual effect”

Two masterpieces in the exhibition illustrate the significant shift in Rembrandt’s approach: Supper at Emmaus, a hauntingly beautiful painting of the biblical account of Jesus’ appearance to his followers after his resurrection; and Christ Healing the Sick, also known as The Hundred Guilder Print, which shows Jesus preaching before a crowd. The Hundred Guilder Print showcases Rembrandt’s unparalleled mastery of printmaking, as every printmaking style and technique in his repertoire was used to create its stunning effect.

artwork: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn - Christ Preaching ('La Petite Tombe'), ca 1652 Etching with drypoint and engraving - Photo by Christie's.

Rembrandt and his apprentices also painted a series of small, contemplative portraits of Jesus on oak panel. These paintings clearly held deep personal meaning for Rembrandt, who hung one in his back parlor and another in his small studio. Seven of these exquisite panels exist today, including one held by the DIA. These portraits are together for the first time since they were in Rembrandt’s more than 350 years ago.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has one of the largest, most significant art collections in the United States. In 2003, the DIA ranked as the second largest municipally owned museum in the United States, with an art collection valued at more than one billion dollars.  With over 100 galleries, it now covers 658,000 square feet (61,130 m²); a major renovation and expansion project completed in 2007 added 58,000 sq. ft. (5,388 m²).  The museum building is highly regarded by architects. The original building, designed by Paul Philippe Cret, is flanked by north and south wings with the white marble as the main exterior material for the entire structure. It is part of the city’s Cultural Center Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The early 20th century was a period of prolific collecting for the museum, which acquired such works as a dragon tile relief from the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, an Egyptian relief of Mourning Women and a statuette of a Seated Scribe, Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Wedding Dance, St. Jerome in His Study by Jan van Eyck and Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna and Child. Early purchases included French paintings by Claude Monet, Odilon Redon, Eugene Boudin, and Edgar Degas, as well as Old Masters including Gerard ter Borch, Peter Paul Rubens, Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. A Vincent van Gogh self-portrait and The Window by Henri Matisse were purchased in 1922 and were the first paintings by these two artists to enter an American public collection.

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Source Link:  Art Knowledge News





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