You may be surprised to learn that the Detroit Institute of Art’s collection includes a portrait study of Jesus by Rembrandt, the very study the Dutch master used for his Supper at Emmaus. Curator Graham W. J. Beal’s dream to see the works side by side was realized a few years ago with a special exhibit at the D.I.A. called Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus. I was fortunate to see that exhibit while visiting Janice’s family for the holidays.
Organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Musée du Louvre, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the exhibit included paintings, prints and drawings of Jesus by Rembrandt and his students from museums throughout the world. I marveled at the seven or eight small portraitures of Jesus. They were simply breathtaking. I’d seen one of them previously in Berlin, but it was extraordinary to see them together for the first time since they were created in his studio.
Breaking from the traditional, idealized form based on Greek sculpture, Rembrandt painted an all-too-human likeness of Jesus. Moreover, he used a Jewish model, probably a Sephardic Jewish immigrant. (Rembrandt and his wife lived in a Jewish section of Amsterdam). Rembrandt literally changed the face of Jesus. What you get is a humble, human, caring Jesus. A servant, not a superhero. A life marked by compassion that was simply divine.
I want to invite you to join me on Monday nights at 6:30pm or Thursday mornings at 10am beginning January 25 for “Meeting Jesus Again: Part 1,” an exploration of a credible Jesus for the 21st Century. We will be joined by 25 experts for a conversation around the relevance of Jesus for today in this video-based study. Together let’s learn more about the One we’re called to follow.