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The relationship of Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669) with the Jewish population of Amsterdam is a remarkable story.

Rembrandt's etching and drypoint on laid paper titled
Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669); Abraham and Isaac, 1645; etching and drypoint on laid paper; Collection of Howard and Fran Berger, Gift to the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art.

Rembrandt lived and worked in Amsterdam during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. Although most residents of Amsterdam during Rembrandt’s lifetime practiced Dutch Calvinism, the city was renowned for its welcoming spirit toward immigrants, especially the Sephardic Jews who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition. Rembrandt never formally joined any church, but he was an astute student of the Bible. At times, he turned to Jewish theologians for insight into his depictions of Old Testament imagery. He also hired models from the Jewish community and received commissions from Jewish patrons.

This exhibition contains 21 etchings by Rembrandt and one drawing by Rembrandt’s teacher Pieter Lastman (Dutch, 1583-1633). These works highlight the artist’s nuanced relationship with Amsterdam’s citizens of the Jewish faith and the keen insights Rembrandt brought to interpretations of Old Testament Bible stories.

Rembrandt’s legacy as an etcher is characterized by the new and innovative techniques he introduced to printmaking. He broke with longstanding, traditional depictions of biblical narratives; instead, Rembrandt added emotional and psychological depth to his subjects through expressive faces, dramatic body language, and his bold use of shadow and light.

Rembrandt and the Jewish Experience is organized by Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California. The presentation of this exhibition at Telfair Museums is curated by Courtney McNeil, Chief Curator & Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs.

Docent-led tours are available Monday–Friday at 2pm.

Want to learn more about the artwork in this exhibition?

View the Mobile Gallery Guide »

Exhibition support provided by: Ellen Byck, Sylvaine and David Neises Fund for Exhibitions, Susan G. and Thomas V. Reilly Fund for Exhibitions, Mrs. Peggy G. Good, Toby W. Hollenberg, Mrs. Robert O. Levitt, Phillipa and Jim Montag, Lorlee and Arnold Tenenbaum.

Annual exhibition support provided by Director’s Circle Council Members:


Bob Faircloth
Jules and Doug Bain
Mr. and Mrs. Dale C. Critz, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. Dale C. Critz, Sr.
Alice and Bob Jepson
Mr. and Mrs. Theodore J. Kleisner
Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Levy
Wilson and Linda Fisk Morris
Cathy and Philip Solomons
Mr. and Mrs. Dwaine L. Willett
Ms. Susan Willetts and Mr. Alan K. Pritz
Malcolm and Julia Butler
Jan and Lawrence Dorman
Dr. David M. Hillenbrand
Mr. and Mrs. Angus C. Littlejohn
Dr. and Mrs. William T. Moore
Dave and Sylvaine Neises
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Roelle
Carl and Barbara Sassano
Jacqueline and Ken Sirlin
Dr. Victor L. Andrews
Leda Chong and Kevin Dewalt
Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Coker, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. F. Reed Dulany III
Lindsay and Brent Harlander
Mr. and Mrs. Patrick J. Haynes III
Kelley and Josh Keller
Carolyn Luck
Linda and Tom McWhorter
Courtney and Jay Neely
Mr. and Mrs. David E. Paddison
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Rabinowitz
Thomas V. and Susan G. Reilly
Ms. Swann Seiler
Randall and Valerie Stolt
Mr. and Mrs. John L. Tucker
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