Christ before Pilate, 1635-1636

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The priests sought Christ's execution, but only Pilate had the authority to issue the order. He believed Christ was innocent and attempted to refuse the staff judgment. The crowd wanted blood and the soldiers pressed forward. We know how the story ends, but Rembrandt depicted the moment when a man of greater inner strength than Pilate could have averted injustice.

Made as prequel to The Descent from the Cross, this print was not based on a painting meant for sale. Instead, Rembrandt made a monochrome oil sketch on paper for Van Vliet to follow. Rembrandt again inserted himself into the image, this time as a beret-wearing soldier leaning over a parapet to watch the drama. The collaboration of painter and printmaker ended in 1636, when Van Vliet married into a wealthy family and Rembrandt was busy building his business in Amsterdam.

Christ before Pilate
Artist Life
c. 1600/10–1668
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
H.143 iv/v; Holl. 77 iv/v; B.77; B-B.35-K iv/v
Curator Approved

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