At Large  May 31, 2017

Divine Encounter: Rembrandt’s Abraham and the Angels

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 is 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 is organized by Joanna Sheers Seidenstein, Anne L. Poulet Curatorial Fellow at The Frick Collection, who also wrote the accompanying catalogue. Sheers Seidenstein comments, “We are privileged to have the opportunity to exhibit this painting, which contains one of Rembrandt’s most creative treatments of the divinea glowing figure who appears to dematerialize from mortal flesh into light before our eyes. We hope our audiences will enjoy 2 engaging deeply with this work and with Rembrandt’s other treatments of the Abraham story, which fascinated the artist throughout his career.”