REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
(b. 1606, Leiden, d. 1669, Amsterdam)

Descent from the Cross

Oil on canvas, 158 x 117 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Catalogue number: Bredius 551.

In 1633 and 1634 Rembrandt produced several painted and etched versions of this subject, reflecting a search for the most expressive arrangement and lighting and his gradual movement away from Rubens's composition. This canvas can be regarded as the final stage of that quest. Rembrandt uses light of varying intensity to pick out not only Christ but also Mary on the right and the women on the left, shifting the sense of tragedy from the event to how those close to Jesus experienced it.

A later (1651) version of the painting is in the National Gallery of Art, Washington.