Rembrandt and the Passion investigates Rembrandt’s Entombment Sketch, which is one of the greatest old master paintings collected by pioneering museum founder Dr. William Hunter (1718-1783). It is a focus exhibition of 40 works, including 7 paintings and 6 drawings. These include important paintings and drawings not seen before in Scotland and will appeal to scholars of Dutch painting and general public alike. The exhibition and publication will present new scholarship that examines every aspect of the making of the Entombment panel.
The Entombment Sketch is connected with an important commission, for 5 paintings amounting to a series of the Passion of Christ, which Rembrandt made between ca. 1632 and 1639 for Frederik Hendrik, Prince of Orange.
The Sketch will be juxtaposed with Rembrandt’s finished canvas of the Entombment that was part of that series, as well as with paintings, prints and drawings that influenced him. The key relationship is with the Passion imagery of Rubens, but the exhibition will also present prints and drawings of the kind that Rembrandt owned in order to show his Entombment image also has roots in the designs of Renaissance masters.
As a second important strand in the exhibition, the materials and techniques used in its making have been examined in the Scientific Department of the National Gallery. Analysis of this new scientific data will allow a more accurate assessment of the painting’s date and function. Since its listing in Rembrandt’s 1656 bankruptcy inventory, the painting has been known as the Entombment Sketch, a title possibly provided by Rembrandt. It is not clear, however, in what sense it is a sketch. The exhibition and publication will question the accepted notion that the panel belongs to a group of oil sketches made 1632-5 as designs for prints. It will present a clear view on the question of the painting’s function, combining information gleaned from scientific analysis, comparison with the finished Entombment painting, related oil sketches, and the great passion subject etchings of the 1650’s.