Rembrandt: The Biblical Etchings


Born in 1606 in the Netherlands, Rembrandt van Rijn is regarded as one of the greatest of the Old Masters. His skill with oils is well known; however, it is in his etchings that we isolate his skills as a master draftsman. Rembrandt’s etchings reveal his understanding of the Bible, his faith in God, and his compassion for the human condition. Of his some 1,500 authenticated pieces, one-third are of Bible subjects. Portraying truth became his primary objective. He sought to portray the scriptures in all their depth, without relying on sectarian traditions.

At his death in 1669, an inventory of his holdings was short. It included only one book—his well-worn Dutch Bible. On his easel stood an unfinished painting of a biblical scene, Simeon and the Christ Child in the Temple.

The Church recently acquired 17 of Rembrandt’s 70 biblical etchings. Several are shown here. They are now featured together with many other Rembrandt etchings of the scriptures in an exhibit that will run through the end of December 2005 at the Museum of Church History and Art. To view the current exhibit online, visit www.lds.org/churchhistory/museum/exhibits/current.

Self-Portrait(click to view larger)

Self-Portrait Leaning on a Stone Sill Facsimile, signed “Rembrandt f. 1639” Courtesy of Museum of Art, Brigham Young University

Christ and the Woman of Samaria(click to view larger)

Christ and the Woman of Samaria See John 4:10, 14 Signed “Rembrandt f. 1658” Actual size 5″ x 6.38″

Christ Ministering(click to view larger)

Christ Ministering See Matt. 19:13–14 Unsigned, about 1640–49 Actual size 10.75″ x 15.3″

Joseph Telling His Dreams(click to view larger)

Joseph Telling His Dreams See Gen. 37:5, 9–11 Signed “Rembrandt f. 1638” Actual size 4.38″ x 3″

Return of the Prodigal Son(click to view larger)

Return of the Prodigal Son See Luke 15:18–20 Signed “Rembrandt f. 1636”Actual size 6.25″ x 5.38″

Peter and John at the Temple Gate(click to view larger)

Peter and John at the Temple Gate See Acts 3:1–2 Signed “Rembrandt f. 1659” Actual size 5.25″ x 8.38″

Judas, Pharisees in the Temple(click to view larger)

Judas, Pharisees in the Temple See Matt. 27:3–5 Signed “Rembrandt f. 1648” Actual size 9″ x 5.3″

Presentation in the Temple(click to view larger)

Presentation in the Temple See Luke 2:27, 34 Unsigned, about 1639 Actual size 8.5″ x 11.38″

[illustrations] All images courtesy of the Museum of Church History and Art, except as noted.