Posted by: Kath Usitalo | February 2, 2012

Still Time To See Rembrandt’s Jesus In Detroit

Rembrandt and The Face of Jesus has been hanging around the Detroit Institute of Arts since late November but you’d better hurry if you plan to catch this special exhibition, which closes February 12. Despite attracting throngs that necessitated extended hours and daily use of the “Sold Out” sign at the ticket office, there’s no chance that the show will be extended.

The assembled prints, drawings and paintings depicting Jesus and Biblical events by Dutch master artist Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) and others are on loan from more than 30 collections, and must be returned to Paris and the Louvre, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the British Museum and the National Gallery in London, and elsewhere.

(Detroit Institute of Arts photo)

Several works come from the DIA’s notable collection of 17th century Dutch art including a Rembrandt masterpiece, The Visitation (1640), an oil painting of Mary, pregnant with Jesus, and Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist.

It’s an example of his expert use of light and illustrates the exhibit’s description of Rembrandt as “one of the most powerful storytellers in European art.”

One gallery holds portraits of Jesus by Rembrandt and several of his apprentices who apparently interpreted the same model, a young Jewish man.

Seven of these paintings were last together under one roof in 1656 at Rembrandt’s home/studio in Amsterdam.

They represent an important shift in the imagining of Jesus: it was Rembrandt who broke from tradition and portrayed him as Jewish.

This exhibit also illustrates a change over the years in Rembrandt’s depiction of Jesus from a heroic and suffering man in electrified settings to a humbler figure in quieter, more contemplative poses and surroundings.

A timeline shows events—many of them tragic—in Rembrandt’s personal life and what works of art he produced at each phase. I especially liked a small etching from 1636, a self-portrait with his wife Saskia, who would die in 1642.

An introductory dimensional display sets the scene for the art that unfolds in six galleries by describing Rembrandt’s Amsterdam. It puts into perspective the importance of the port city and the seismic changes brought by the shipping industry, such as the impact that exotic imported goods and arrival of foreigners had on Dutch culture and on Rembrandt.

Allow two hours to contemplate the more than five dozen art works, read the descriptive material and utilize the helpful audio/visual guide, which is included in the ticket price. Then pop upstairs to see more art from the Dutch Golden Age in the DIA’s permanent collection. (Or rather, the balance of the collection that hasn’t been moved temporarily to the Rembrandt exhibit.)

Last I checked tickets for the Rembrandt exhibit were still available at select time slots through February 12, including late afternoon on Sunday, February 5—a super alternative to the Super Bowl.

Tickets are $16 for adults, $8 for youth, and reservations for timed slots are required.

The DIA collection includes "Perspective Box of a Dutch Interior," a dimensional work of oils, mirror and wood created in 1663; viewers looked through the hole in the panel (left) which was on the front of the box. The DIA provides a recreated version of this cool contraption for visitors to experience the piece.

Visitor Info Clicks:

Detroit Institute of Arts


Pure Michigan


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