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DIA exterior at night
DIA exterior at night

Detroit Institute of Arts Presents Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus - First exhibition to bring together many of Rembrandt’s finest paintings, prints and drawings featuring image of Jesus

Friday, August 19, 2011

(Detroit)—Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus, at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Nov. 20, 2011–Feb. 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.

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.

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 studio more than 350 years ago.

A 255-page catalogue is available in hardcover for $55 and soft cover for $45.

Tickets are timed and include museum admission and an audio tour. Advance purchase is recommended. Adults: $16, groups of 15 or more, $12 per person; Youth (ages 6–17): $8; DIA members: Free.

Tickets go on sale Oct. 26 and can be purchased at the DIA Box Office,, or 866.DIA.TIXS (866-342-8497). A $3.50 handling charge applies to all non-DIA-member tickets, except those sold at the DIA Box Office.

In Detroit, the exhibition is generously supported by a gift from the Cracchiolo family. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Hours and Admission
Museum hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for ages 6-17, and free for DIA members. For membership information call 313-833-7971.


The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA's collection is known for its quality, range, and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from the City of Detroit.

Contact: Pamela Marcil 313-833-7899