Rembrandt et la Figure du Christ

February 7, 2010By Paris UpdateArchive

Rembrandt’s “Supper at Emmaus” (1648). © 2010 Musée du Louvre: Philippe Fuzeau


Hasn’t everything possible already been said about Rembrandt? Apparently not, and thank the art gods for that. No one can ever get enough of Rembrandt. The current exhibition at the Louvre, “Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus,” focuses on one narrow aspect of the master’s work: his depiction of Christ.

The curators want to show that Rembrandt was the first to break from traditional majestic, idealized depictions of Christ and took a revolutionary approach in portraying the god-made-flesh as a real, anguished, suffering human being.


Along the way, our attention is sidetracked by paintings that are included to show how much attention Rembrandt paid to the reactions of the figures around Christ and to theorize that in the end Rembrandt based his image of Christ on


Rembrandt’s “Portrait of a Young Jew” (1663). © Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas/Art Resource, NY, Distr. RMN


Jewish models whose portraits he painted with great sympathy. This theory is supported by two works, one of them the affecting “Portrait en Buste d’un Jeune Juif” (1663).

But who can complain about looking at works by Rembrandt, Mantegna, Dürer and other masters? We have here Rembrandt’s restored masterpiece “Supper at Emmaus” (1648), with its marvelous composition and rather goofy-looking, spaced-out Christ seated behind a table under a ceiling-high niche in a gloomy room, surrounded by three reverential pilgrims, one seen from the back. The light on the white tablecloth seems to come from Christ himself.

One other quibble: why does the museum bother translating the wall text into English if it is not going to translate the labels on each painting, which in this case added interesting discussions of individual works. I suppose they assume that everyone will rent the audio guides, ignoring the fact that many people dislike them.

This exhibition will travel to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Aug. 3-Oct. 30) and the Detroit Institute of Arts (Nov. 20, 2011-Feb. 12, 2012).

Rembrandt fans will also want to visit the Institut Néerlandais to see “Rembrandt and his Circle: Master Drawings from the Frits Lugt Collection,” which includes 20 drawings by the master and works by his followers. The exhibition opens on June 30.


Musée du Louvre: Hall Napoléon. Métro: Palais-Royal-Musée du Louvre. Open Wednesday-Monday, 9am-6pm (until 10pm on Wednesday and Friday). Closed Tuesday. Admission: €11.00. Through July 18.

Institut Néerlandais: 121, rue de Lille, 75007 Paris. Métro: Assemblée Nationale. Tel.: 1 53 59 12 40. Admission: free. June 30-Oct. 2. June 30-October 2.

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© 2011 Paris Update


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