GALLERY
 
 
REMBRANDT, THE LIFE OF CHRIST: Introduction
 

Part 3
The etching Christ Healing the Sick, also called "The Hundred Guilder Print" because of the high price it fetched even in Rembrandt's day, is perhaps one of the turning points in his process of self-discovery. It is a work that only Rembrandt could have executed.
In this print we may explore every conceivable relationship among men - the full range of their pride, doubt, and need comes to life. The paintings done after this are relatively small. Rembrandt's new artistic approach reflected his close personal relationships among Jewish scholars. Their faith in the coming Messiah and the redemption of the world he had already known after his marriage to Saskia, and the years they had spent living in the large house in the Jewish quarter.

To me, the most humble and humane of all of Rembrandt's depictions of Christ may be found in his Christ at Emmaus, now hanging in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Here he gave Christ the face of a modest servant of mankind, filled with the goodness and grace that had for him become a reality in his faith in Christ.

In this, Rembrandt became truly an artist of "free" expression. Centuries before the Russian philosopher and poet, Osip Mandlestam, Rembrandt seemed to have hit upon a similar realization- - that an artist could be made free because of his faith. Somehow the redemptive act of Christ freed the artist from, what Mandlestam referred to in his letter to the composer Scirabin, "necessity." We might rephrase this, by saying that Rembrandt had discovered the freedom of forgiveness.

Whatever the underlying motivation, a particular inspiration illuminated Rembrandt's paintings from within. While it might appear that he departed completely from the artistic conventions of his time, in fact he exploited them for his own designs, conforming every technique and expression to accommodate his own, animated vision. Even the most casual perusal of Rembrandt's paintings reveals a work of unimaginably rich light, and an unequaled ability to represent shadow and darkness, or chiaroscuro, and indirect reflection to tell his story. Gradually, we begin to understand the profound feeling Rembrandt felt for his subject, that of an artist more concerned with his own personal expression of spirituality, than with the mere reproduction of external features.