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Home | Articles | Highlights: Rembrandt's Late Religious Portraits

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606–1669),
The Apostle Bartholomew, Dutch, 1661. Oil on canvas, 34Z, x 29Cv in. Courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum; gift of J. Paul Getty. (c) J. Paul Getty Trust.
Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA
June 7–August 28, 2005
For information call 310.440.7300
or visit www.getty.edu

Between the late 1650s and the early 1660s, Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669) entered a phase of increased creativity despite adverse circumstances. A significant number of the portraits he executed during this period, remarkable for their spiritual and emotional intensity, are the subject of this international loan exhibition. On view are 16 paintings from collections around the world, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and London’s National Gallery, as well as from museums in Rotterdam, Helsinki, Zurich, Munich, and Amsterdam. Remarkable for their somber color and vigorous brushwork—in contrast to the
smooth style and higher keyed palette of his earlier works—
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606–1669), Self-Portrait as the Apostle Paul, Dutch, 1661.
Oil on canvas, 35ZCzn x 30Bzn in. Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
the reason for the existence of this group of paintings is shrouded in mystery. Who commissioned them? Why did Rembrandt execute them? In largely Protestant Holland, images of saints did not play a devotional role in religious life. One theory is that Rembrandt’s personal struggles, marked by the death of his wife and his financial burdens, led him to create these paintings of biblical subjects. For over 80 years, scholars have wondered if the works were part of a series. This exhibition provides the first opportunity to view a large number of these works side by side and to assess their stylistic and thematic relationships. Works on show include Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul (1661) and Apostle Bartholomew (1661). Previously seen at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the exhibit will make its only West Coast appearance at the Getty Center.

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