Past Exhibition

Divine Encounter: Rembrandt’s Abraham and the Angels
May 26, 2017 to August 20, 2017
oil painting of group, including men and angels, seated on earthen floor

Beginning in the late 1630s and increasingly through the 1640s, Rembrandt shifted away from the dynamic movement of his earlier work towards imagery characterized by stillness and calm. These are the defining qualities of the artist’s Abraham Entertaining the Angels of 1646, in which a momentous episode of divine revelation unfolds in the most hushed of ways — dramatic action replaced by subtle gesture and an astonishing luminosity, all within a panel measuring fewer than nine inches wide. On loan from a private collection and displayed publicly for the first time in more than ten years, this extraordinary painting was the centerpiece of a small exhibition dedicated to Rembrandt’s depictions of Abraham and his various encounters with God and his angels, as recounted in the book of Genesis. In the panel and in the other works included in the show — a tightly focused selection of prints and drawings and a single copper plate — Rembrandt explored, in different media, the nature of divine presence and the ways it was perceived.

Divine Encounter: Rembrandt's Abraham and the Angels was organized by Joanna Sheers Seidenstein, Anne L. Poulet Curatorial Fellow. The exhibition was accompanied by a scholarly catalogue published in association with D Giles Limited and by a variety of educational programs.

Major funding for the exhibition was provided by the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund, a Bader Philanthropy; the David Berg Foundation; and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support was generously provided by Otto Naumann Ltd., the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Netherland-America Foundation. 

Rembrandt, Abraham Entertaining the Angels, 1646. Oil on oak panel, 6 3/8 x 8 3/8 inches. Private collection. Photo: Michael Bodycomb.

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