The exhibition has been organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
From the museum website
The National Gallery of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum are organizing an exhibition focused on one of the most fascinating aspects of Rembrandt’s extraordinary artistic career in the late 1650s and early 1660s, his brooding and pensive half-length images of religious figures. Many of these majestic figures depict apostles and evangelists, but among these works are also representations of Christ, the Virgin, and unidentified saints and monks. The men and women in these powerful images peer out of the dark recesses of dimly-lit interiors, burdened by the weight of their spiritual and emotional concerns. Rembrandt’s Late Religious Portraits will be shown at the National Gallery of Art from January 30 to May 1, 2005, and at the J. Paul Getty Museum from June 7 to August 28, 2005.
This exhibition is the first devoted to the late paintings of Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669). It is also the first to assemble a large group of his religious portraits—sixteen in all. In the last decade of his life, Rembrandt painted a group of apostles, evangelists, and related figures of haunting beauty and psychological intensity. He rendered them in a vigorous and highly individual technique, sculpting faces and hands in paint. Nothing is known about Rembrandt’s reasons for creating so many images of this type around 1660. He had recently endured bankruptcy and the loss of his house and possessions. His rough brushwork and restricted palette had also become less popular with collectors. Perhaps he painted these works for particular patrons or as part of an ambitious new business venture. These late religious portraits reveal Rembrandt’s empathy for the great figures of the church as well as his idiosyncratic approach to traditional subjects. Rembrandt minimized the traditional symbols of religious figures, such as the instruments of their martyrdom. Instead, he emphasized their inner spiritual life, uncertainties, and convictions.
Rembrandt’s late religious portraits aims to bring together a discrete group of about fifteen to twenty powerfully evocative paintings. Their juxtaposition will raise questions about their relationship to one another, and, in a broader sense, to Rembrandt’s life and career.
Rembrandt’s late religious portraits by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. with Peter C. Sutton and contributions by Volker Manuth and Anne T. Woollett.
This 152-page book features thirty-five color and fifty-three halftone illustrations focusing on one of the most fascinating aspects of Rembrandt’s extraordinary artistic career—his brooding and pensive half-length images of religious figures from the late 1650s and early 1660s. Many of these majestic paintings are identified as apostles and evangelists, but among them are also representations of Christ, the Virgin, and unidentified saints and monks. The fully-illustrated catalogue will include essays by a number of Rembrandt scholars, including Arthur Wheelock; Volker Manuth, Professor at the University of Nijmegen; and Melanie Gifford, Research Conservator at the National Gallery of Art. Catalogue entries will be written by Arthur Wheelock and Peter Sutton, Director of the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut.
Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art (30 January-1 May 2005)