Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Head of Christ

Artist:
Style of Rembrandt (Dutch, 1650s)
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
16 3/4 x 13 1/2 in. (42.5 x 34.3 cm); with added strips 18 5/8 x 14 5/8 in. (47.3 x 37.1 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection, Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917
Accession Number:
17.120.222
Not on view
Rembrandt painted this subject a number of times; three examples, one described as "Een Christus tonie nae't leven" ("a head of Christ done from life," that is, from a model probably found in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam), were cited in the 1656 inventory of the artist's possessions. Of the dozen bust-length portraits of Christ known today, only the small panel in Berlin is universally accepted, but several others are obviously the work of pupils. The present picture, which is sensitive both in conception and execution, must be either by Rembrandt or by one of his most gifted followers. The issue, as so often is the case, is complicated by the fact that the paint surface has been flattened and badly abraded.
Forthcoming
Jan Wandelaar, Amsterdam (until d. 1759; his estate sale, September 4, 1759, no. 13, for fl. 5.10 to Enschedé); Johannes Enschedé, Haarlem (from 1759); [Sedelmeyer, Paris]; Maurice Kann, Paris (by 1883–d. 1906); his nephew, Edouard Kann, Paris (1906–10; sold to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, Paris and New York, 1910–12; sold for $55,000 to Fletcher]; Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher, New York (1912–his d. 1917)
Amsterdam. Stedelijk Museum. "Rembrandt Schilderijen," September 8–October 31, 1898, no. 109 (lent by Maurice Kann, Paris).

Paris. Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume. "Grands et petits maîtres hollandais," 1911, no. 134 (lent by F. Kleinberger, Paris).

Hempstead, N. Y. Hofstra College. "Metropolitan Museum Masterpieces," June 26–September 1, 1952, no. 21.

Brooklyn Museum. "Religious Painting, 15th–19th Century," October 2–November 13, 1956, no. 17.

Indianapolis Museum of Art. "Treasures from the Metropolitan," October 25, 1970–January 3, 1971, no. 65.

Tokyo National Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 10–October 1, 1972, no. 80.

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 8–November 26, 1972, no. 80.

Wichita Art Museum. "5000 Years of Art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 23, 1977–January 15, 1978, no. 46.

San José, Costa Rica. Museo de Jade. "Cinco siglos de obras maestras de la pintura en colecciones norteamericanas cedidas en préstamo a Costa Rica," May 6–June 30, 1978, no. 18.

Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Museum of Art. "Masters of the Portrait," March 4–April 29, 1979, no. 7.

San Diego Museum of Art. "5000 Years of Art from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 10–December 6, 1981, no. 49.

Champaign-Urbana. Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois. "5000 Years of Art from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 10–March 7, 1982, no. 49.

Mobile, Ala. Fine Arts Museum of the South. "5000 Years of Art from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," March 30–May 9, 1982, no. 49.

Midland, Mich. Midland Center for the Arts. "5000 Years of Art from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 13–August 25, 1982, no. 49.

Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "5000 Years of Art from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 19–November 14, 1982, no. 49.

Hamilton, N.Y. Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University. "Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 6–April 17, 1983, no. 8.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 10, 1995–January 7, 1996, no. 35.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.

Paris. Musée du Louvre. "Rembrandt et la figure du Christ," April 21–July 18, 2011, no. 46.

Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus," August 3–October 30, 2011, no. 46.

Detroit Institute of Arts. "Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus," November 20, 2011–February 12, 2012, no. 46.

Wilhelm [von] Bode. Studien zur Geschichte der holländischen Malerei. Braunschweig, 1883, pp. 522–23, 597, no. 295, as in the Maurice Kann collection; attributes it to Rembrandt, dates it about 1656, and calls it unfortunately damaged; states that it may be identical with a work, described by Thoré-Burger, from the Saulcy collection in Paris.

Eugène Dutuit. Tableaux et dessins de Rembrandt. Paris, 1885, pp. 51, 60, 69, no. 78.

Alfred von Wurzbach. Rembrandt-galerie. Stuttgart, 1886, text vol., no. 301.

Émile Michel. Rembrandt: His Life, His Work, and His Time. English ed. New York, 1894, vol. 2, p. 239.

Illustrated Catalogue of 300 Paintings by Old Masters of the Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French, and English Schools. Paris, 1898, p. 168, no. 149, ill. p. 169.

C[ornelis]. Hofstede de Groot. De Rembrandt Tentoonstelling te Amsterdam. Amsterdam, [1898], unpaginated, no. 109, as painted about 1660.

Malcolm Bell. Rembrandt van Rijn and His Work. London, 1899, pp. 84, 157, erroneously as from the Saulcy collection.

Wilhelm [von] Bode with the assistance of C. Hofstede de Groot. The Complete Work of Rembrandt. Vol. 6, Paris, 1901, pp. 8-9, 60, no. 414, pl. 414, dates it about 1659.

Adolf Rosenberg. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1906, p. 426, ill. p. 331.

Adolf Rosenberg. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. Ed. W. R. Valentiner. 3rd ed. Stuttgart, 1909, p. 590, ill. p. 393.

Alfred von Wurzbach. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon. Vol. 2, Vienna, 1910, p. 414.

Wilhelm von Bode. La Collection Maurice Kann. Paris, 1911, p. 8.

W[ilhelm]. Martin. "Ausstellung altholländischer Bilder in pariser Privatbesitz." Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft 4 (1911), p. 504.

Wilhelm Martin. "De Tentoonstelling van Oud-Holl. Schilderijen te Paris." Elsevier's Geïllustreerd Maandschrift 21 (July–December 1911), p. 173.

Catalogue of 150 Paintings by Old Masters . . . from the Kleinberger Galleries. Paris, 1911, pp. 74–75, no. 59, ill.

C[ornelis]. Hofstede de Groot. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Ed. Edward G. Hawke. Vol. 6, London, 1916, p. 117, no. 160.

"Obituary for Isaac D. Fletcher." American Art News 15 (May 5, 1917), p. 4.

Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Rembrandt wiedergefundene Gemälde. Stuttgart, 1921, p. 126.

C[ornelis]. Hofstede de Groot. Die Holländische Kritik der jetzigen Rembrandt-Forschung. Stuttgart, 1922, p. 41, as from the J. W. [sic] Fletcher collection.

D. S. Meldrum. Rembrandt's Paintings. London, 1923, p. 202, pl. CCCCVII.

Alan Burroughs. "Rembrandts in the Metropolitan Museum." The Arts 4 (November 1923), p. 272.

W. R. Valentiner. "Bust of Christ by Rembrandt." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts of the City of Detroit 12 (October 1930), p. 3, as one of several busts of Christ painted by Rembrandt about 1648, "obviously from the same Jewish model".

Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Rembrandt Paintings in America. New York, 1931, unpaginated, no. 101, pl. 101, dates it about 1648, suggesting that it uses the same model as the picture in the Johnson collection; states that the same model appears in the version in Lord Melchett's collection in London [later Harry John collection, Milwaukee].

A[braham]. Bredius. Rembrandt Gemälde. Vienna, 1935, p. 27, no. 626, pl. 626.

Introduction by William M. Ivins Jr. The Unseen Rembrandt. New York, 1942, pls. 25–26 (overall and detail).

Josephine L. Allen. "The Museum's Rembrandts." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (November 1945), pp. 75–77, ill. on cover (color), accepts a dating in the second half of the 1650s; suggests that the Melchett [later Milwaukee] portrait was copied from the MMA work before it was cut down.

W. R. Valentiner. Rembrandt and His Pupils. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. Raleigh, 1956, unpaginated catalogue, under no. 20.

H.-M. Rotermund. "Wandlungen des Christus-Typus bei Rembrandt." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 18 (1956), pp. 220–21, fig. 174.

James Henry Duveen. The Rise of the House of Duveen. New York, 1957, p. 234.

Kurt Bauch. Rembrandt Gemälde. Berlin, 1966, p. 11, pl. 196, as painted about 1648; erroneously as on wood.

Horst Gerson. Rembrandt Paintings. Ed. Gary Schwartz. Amsterdam, 1968, pp. 346, 498, no. 258, ill. p. 347, calls it a genuine Rembrandt which has suffered; believes it should be dated later than 1648 [see Ref. Bauch 1966].

Paolo Lecaldano in L'opera pittorica completa di Rembrandt. Milan, 1969, p. 114, no. 296, ill., as an autograph work; dates it about 1650.

Horst Gerson, ed. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings. By A[braham]. Bredius. 3rd ed. London, 1969, p. 614, no. 626, ill. p. 527.

J. Richard Judson in Rembrandt After Three Hundred Years. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. [Chicago], 1969, p. 39, under no. 18.

Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 189 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].

Erwin Panofsky. "Rembrandt und das Judentum." Jahrbuch der Hamburger Kunstsammlungen 18 (1973), p. 100, fig. 22.

Christopher Wright. Rembrandt and His Art. New York, 1975, pp. 63, 67, colorpl. 51.

J. Bolten and H. Bolten-Rempt. The Hidden Rembrandt. Milan, 1977, p. 193, no. 376, ill.

Maryan W. Ainsworth et al. Art and Autoradiography: Insights into the Genesis of Paintings by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, and Vermeer. New York, 1982, p. 97 n. 5.

Jacques Foucart. Les peintures de Rembrandt au Louvre. Paris, 1982, p. 52.

Christian Tümpel. Rembrandt: Mythos und Methode. Königstein, 1986, pp. 344, 422, no. A20, ill. p. 345 (color).

Paul Jeromack. "Être Rembrandt ou ne plus l'être." Connaissance des Arts no. 441 (November 1988), p. 108, ill. (color).

Leonard J. Slatkes. Rembrandt: Catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1992, p. 126, under no. 63.

Walter Liedtke in Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, "Paintings, Drawings, and Prints: Art-Historical Perspectives."New York, [1995], pp. 122–24, no. 35, ill. (color), as by a follower of Rembrandt.

Hubert von Sonnenburg. Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 1, "Paintings: Problems and Issues."New York, 1995, pp. 53, 74, 118, 120–22, no. 35, ill. (color) and figs. 60 (color detail) and 61 (x-radiograph detail), as by an artist in the circle of Rembrandt, attributing it to a member of the Dordrecht school.

Important Old Master Paintings. Sotheby's, New York. January 11, 1996, under no. 261.

Albert Blankert and Marleen Blokhuis in Rembrandt: A Genius and His Impact. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne, 1997, p. 198 n. 7, under no. 31.

Catherine B. Scallen. Rembrandt, Reputation, and the Practice of Connoisseurship. Amsterdam, 2004, p. 363 n. 99, pp. 374–75 n. 49.

Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), p. 37.

Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 2, pp. 708, 749, 758–62, no. 172, colorpl. 172, calls it "one of about ten known bust-length pictures of Christ that were evidently painted by Rembrandt pupils during the 1650s".

Lloyd Dewitt et al. in Rembrandt et la figure du Christ. Ed. Lloyd Dewitt et al. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2011, pp. 72, 113, 143 n. 4, pp. 153, 245, no. 46, ill. p. 245 (color) and colorpl. 2.11, as by Rembrandt's workshop, after a lost work by Rembrandt, about 1650.



This picture is one of about ten known bust-length images of Christ in a number of poses painted by Rembrandt pupils during the 1650s. Other versions of the subject include compositions at the Fogg Museum, Cambridge; Detroit Institute of Arts; Museum Bredius, The Hague; Philadelphia Museum of Art; a work formerly in Tilburg; and one in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (considered to be perhaps authentic). The MMA work is slightly larger than these examples, which are all about the same size (about 25 x 20 cm), and is the only one on canvas. Its support was cut down and mounted on a slightly larger canvas at an early date. It may have been originally the same size as the version formerly in the Harry John collection, Milwaukee, and sold at Sotheby's, New York, January 11, 1996, no. 261.

Three examples of this subject, one described as "Een Christus tronie nae't leven" ("a head of Christ done from life," that is, from a model probably found in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam), were cited in the 1656 inventory of the artist's possessions (nos. 115, 118, and 326).

Ref. Bode 1883 identifies this work with one in the Saulcy collection in Paris, but the Philadephia version is more likely to be the ex Saulcy picture.
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