Christ’s Hipster Brother

A picture from Rembrandt’s studio, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where it is (mis?)titled “Christ With a Staff”. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) The painting is on loan to “Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus,” the show I just wrote about at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. When this image is seen alongside so many of Rembrandt’s other Christs, an old suggestion for its subject becomes almost completely convincing: It is very probably a picture of the apostle known as Saint James the Lesser, who was considered a near relation (even a younger, and so “lesser”, brother) of Christ’s, and a kind of look-alike for him, although extra handsome. This subject presents the painter with a challenge. How to make someone indubitably Christ-like, without simply confusing him with Christ? The answer is to compile the classic features of the “Lentuline” Jesus – pale mid-parted locks, straight nose, a tidy beard – and then alter them subtly. Christ’s usual one-piece beard-and-mustache pairing now has its mustache as a separate, almost rakish patch of facial hair. Saint James looks like he could be Christ’s stylish junior sibling, and even his extra-long hair matches a description of James as never getting a haircut. Read more.

Via The Daily Beast


~ by The 1955 Hudson on September 29, 2011.

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