The Stoning of St. Stephen, 1635

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

Etching

The William M. Ladd Collection Gift of Herschel V. Jones, 1916 P.1,266

Not on View

Rembrandt chose the martyrdom of Saint Stephen as the subject of his first painting, completed in 1625 at the age of 19. Some ten years later, he reprises the theme in this dramatic etched portrayal of the saint's murder by stoning. According to the Acts of the Apostles from the Bible, Stephen was a disciple of Jesus and deacon in the early Christian church who was assigned to distribute food and charities to widows and needy members of the community. His teachings espousing Jesus as savior and arguments against traditional Jewish beliefs had offended the authorities of certain synagogues, who falsely accused him of preaching against the Temple (blasphemy) and sentenced him to death. Considered the first martyr of Christianity, Stephen is compassionate to the end, imploring God to forgive his murderers of their sins.

Image: Public Domain. The William M. Ladd Collection Gift of Herschel V. Jones, 1916

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