The Stoning of Saint Stephen
Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669)
Date1635; 17th century impression
DimensionsSheet : 3 5/8 x 3 1/4 in. (9.21 x 8.25 cm)
Credit LineThe Sarah and Grace Collection
LabelAccording to the Book of Acts, Saint Stephen was a disciple of Jesus and a deacon in the early Christian church who was stoned to death by the Jewish community in Jerusalem for preaching that Jesus was the true Messiah. He is considered to be the first Christian martyr. The story of Saint Stephen’s unwavering belief in Christ and willingness to die for his faith resonated strongly with both Catholics and Protestants in 17th century Holland, and Rembrandt may have chosen the subject deliberately for its crossover market appeal. This print is closely related to a painting of Saint Stephen’s martyrdom that Rembrandt created in 1625. It was relatively common for artists in 17th and 18th century Europe to design prints based on successful paintings. Because they could sell multiple impressions of the prints and distribute them more widely, this strategy helped artists to build their reputations and increase their earnings.