Circle of Rembrandt, 17th Century
One of the museum’s most treasured pieces, Head of Christ was most likely painted by an associate or pupil of Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn and modeled after a now-lost sketch. Among the many such portraits attributed to the group referred to as the Circle of Rembrandt, this particular depiction communicates a more personal, sympathetic view of the Savior. Rembrandt’s renowned ability to illuminate the soul of his subject is echoed in this painting by an unknown artist who was directly associated with Rembrandt and his studio. The soft, luminous glow of light in the background enhances the powerful concentrations of warm light on Christ’s face. Characteristic of Rembrandt’s own paintings, this light infuses life into the figure, creating a personal, intimate, portrait-like depiction of the Savior. The light works as a metaphor for holiness, loving-kindness and salvation, inviting viewers to contemplate the divine nature and mission of the Son of God.