Rembrandt & the Speaking Image of Christ by Mary Podles

A THOUSAND WORDS: Mary Podles on Christian Art

Rembrandt & the Speaking Image of Christ

In seventeenth-century Holland, many Protestant preachers were regarded as popular celebrities, and their parishioners and admirers hung their portraits on their walls. In response to popular demand, in 1641, the artist Rembrandt van Rijn published a portrait etching of the Mennonite preacher Cornelis Anslo (Figure 1). Seeing it, the poet Joost van den Vondel (known as “the Dutch Milton”) responded with the epigram Ay, Rembrandt, mal Cornelis stem:

Ay, Rembrandt, paint Cornelis’s voice.
The vi . . .