Christ Before Pilate

Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, late 1600s - late 1660s)
1636; 17th-18th century impression
Etching and drypoint
Plate : 21 1/2 x 17 1/2 in. (54.61 x 44.45 cm)
Credit Line
The Sarah and Grace Collection
Object Number

This print portrays Pontius Pilate presenting Jesus to the people of Jerusalem for judgement. It is one of Rembrandt’s most ambitious etchings and took more than a year to complete. Scholars now think that Christ and the other figures in the center of the image were drawn by Rembrandt himself, but that the surrounding parts of the composition were completed by Rembrandt’s workshop assistants. One of the figures in the central group who appears wearing a plumed cap and leaning over the balustrade bears a striking resemblance to Rembrandt’s self-portraits, and may have been included by the master as an amusing allusion to the status of artists as observers and interpreters of history. The bottom margin of the print is inscribed with the Latin words cum privile, meaning “with privilege.” This phrase was used in the 17th and 18th centuries as a kind of copyright notification and was meant to discourage other artists from copying the image and selling it under their own name.

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